We’re going to spend the next few weeks discussing the myths surrounding dieting. These sections will be quoted directly from the best-selling book by Yoni Freedhoff, MD, The Diet Fix. I couldn’t recommend this book enough for those who want to take control of their weight. We’ll begin this series with the first myth of dieting.
MYTH 1: People Lack Willpower
I hear all the time, not only from thin folks who just don’t understand weight management, but even from folks who’ve themselves struggled for decades, that the reason people struggle is that they lack willpower; that they just can’t resist temptation. Could it simply be that in just 50 short years the world has gone from a willful place to one filled with weakness? Do you feel the same way? I can’t agree.
Here you are. You’ve battled your weight ever since childhood. You’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on various dieting efforts, and you’re blaming your own lack of willpower? As I see it, as evidenced by your own commitment over the years, you have incredible amounts of willpower. I’d go as far to wager that in all likelihood, you have spent more willpower on weight management than on any other area of your life. So, is it lack of willpower that has led to tripling of childhood obesity rates over the course of the past 40 years? Have we suddenly raised a generation of toddlers and elementary school kids who just don’t have the same stick-to-itiveness of prior generations? Of course not.
It’s not about willpower. If it were about willpower, if it were about just wanting it enough, the world would be skinny. So, if it’s not about willpower, what is it about?
It’s about change, and it’s about beliefs.
In terms of change, the world is a very very different place from what it was 50 years ago, and there are many things that have an impact upon a person’s weight.
These days, cheap calories are everywhere and everyone’s telling us to eat them. Where we used to go to buy gas, there are now junk-food supermarkets. Where eating out used to be a rare treat, it’s now convenient and affordable enough to be a multiple-times-a-week occurrence. Where we used to have family dinners, now there are weekly pizza nights. Where there used to be only water fountains, there are now school chocolate milk programs where each glass of the stuff contains up to double the calories of Coca-Cola, along with 20% more sugar. And of course, there are newly super-sized portions and tens of billions a year of food industry advertising now to contend with.
It’s a different world now, and the default in this world is weight gain, and simple, brute force will-power doesn’t stand a chance.
In my opinion, dieting has proved itself to be a tremendous failure over the years. But from all angles, we are taught to believe the opposite: that diets work. It’s we who fail. And belief matters. But couldn’t it be that the fault for our never-ending diet failures doesn’t lie with us individuals, but rather how we approach dieting as a whole? A paradigm shift was needed for ancient astronomers to realize that the true nature of the world around them was round, rather than a flat earth. If we’re going to make sense and success of dieting, diets need a new underlying belief; an integral art of which must include rejecting the notion that willpower is enough to see us through.
Stay tuned for more myths of dieting.
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