Welcome to reality! Most of these principles will be familiar to you by now, but some special information is essential to your success—your lasting success. First of all, remember that what you are going to do requires you to maintain a complete paradigm shift from the traditional diet approach. Food is no longer your enemy—it’s your best friend.
Your body is designed to resist anything that brings disequilibrium, which is a state of imbalance, and naturally opposes changes—even beneficial ones. Consequently, when you get securely off the feast or famine cycle, your weight will plateau for a time. This interval is necessary for your body to reestablish equilibrium while it tests the change in the food supply, whether it is temporary or lasting. This plateau period is different for everyone and depends on many variables. Your job is to stay focused on the food supply—the quality and adequacy of food you are eating.
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Remember the five adaptive responses to dieting? They are increased appetite, lowered metabolic rate, cravings for sweets and fats, preoccupation with food and eating, and avoidance of physical activity. When the dieting stops, and the pro-active quality eating begins, the body doesn’t have to struggle to adapt to limited food any more with these five mechanisms. So, what does it do? Through biochemical changes, these five adaptations reverse.
Re-Adaptation to a New Food Supply
1. Decrease in Appetite
This change doesn’t happen all at once, but when it does start to show up, the people who experience it become almost giddy with excitement. They just can’t believe that their bodies are capable of doing this amazing thing: They simply do not want as much food. Sometimes, people are so skeptical of this that they try to keep eating the amount of food they’re used to, but they get uncomfortable and have to back off. They start eating lighter foods, smaller portions, and leaving food on their plates. The lowered appetite announces a new need in a body; a need to use up excess fat that has become maladaptive in this new environment of an optimal food supply.
Sometimes this shift is not obvious and can be missed. Sometimes bodies resist this change because it is stressful. If you are off the feast or famine cycle for several months and your weight and eating are stable, you can be confident that your body is ready for a fuel reduction in terms of both quality and amount of food. Move toward more plant based foods and/or stop eating just before your fullness signal. You should know your body well enough by now to do this easily. But you must make changes gradually and be sure you don’t get back on the cycle. You should tolerate a lowered food intake well
if your body is ready for it. If it isn’t and you have feast or famine cycle symptoms when you back off on your eating, then wait a week and try again.
Is this lowering food intake just another form of dieting? No. It requires that you first stay off the fat producing cycle as you lower your intake of food. As long as you remain free of cycle symptoms, you know you and your body are not in a war but are working together. You and your body have to cooperate to decrease your overall food intake in order to lose weight for good. Without the chemical influence of a famine, this adaptive change is finally possible!
2. Increased Metabolic Rate
A body’s conserving energy when fuel is limited is simply logical. So reversing this formula by supplying plenty of high-quality fuel makes sense, too. A depressed metabolism that goes with dieting can cause symptoms of depression, lack of motivation, poor of energy, low body temperature, and weight gain. Maybe you’ve had some of these symptoms as a dieter. The good news—speeding your metabolic rate up—will happen gradually as you eat better. Eventually, your metabolism will be humming along at its optimal level because your body will be appropriately fueled. Naturally, this shift will contribute to gradual weight loss, and just plain feeling better.
There are two ways to stimulate the metabolism: Everybody knows one of them—exercise! But no one ever talks about the other one: eating! Isn’t that wonderful? When you eat, your body has to use up calories to digest food for its energy needs, and that stimulates your metabolic rate. Instead of conserving calories, your well-fed body can afford to waste energy in the form of heat.
3. Loss of Interest in Pleasure Foods
Besides clearer body signals, your appetite for poor-quality foods—sugary, fatty, processed foods that you used to be drawn to will dwindle. They will start to look much more like what they really are: unappetizing, poor excuses for food. As you consistently eat high-quality foods, your need for these make-up foods will wane dramatically. When you were waging a war against your body, cravings for make-up foods were probably a source of anxiety, frustration, guilt, confusion, remorse and shame. You may have associated these cravings with your emotional or psychological inadequacy. But always remember; these cravings are symptoms. They aren’t symptoms of your defects, but symptoms of your body’s attempts to manage your eating patterns to stay alive. Now you can kiss your fat-producing cravings goodbye. It’s a wonderful experience to realize these poor quality foods have no power over you anymore.
If after a month or so in recovery you still crave these poor-quality foods, then something may be wrong. Either you are still recovering from your last diet, or you aren’t eating enough good food throughout the day.
4. Focus on Life
Your attention has been over-focused on food as a dieter because you haven’t been getting enough of it consistently while trying to lose weight. Now that you’re getting plenty of good food whenever you need it, you can get on with your life and pay attention to other important things, letting your body and your commitment to food quality manage your food intake. It’s a wonder how ex-dieters go from preoccupation to nonchalance in their attitude toward food. Aside from making sure there is enough quality food around, those in recovery just don’t worry about eating. In fact, it bores them—something some complain about. But they don’t complain too much because they say they finally have time, energy, and focus to live their lives, free from obsessing about their eating and their weight. There’s more on this significant shift coming up.
5. Desire for Physical Activity
With the energy supplied by plenty of great food, and the increase in metabolic rate, your interest in moving around is going to take a leap. Bodies are built to move around, and it’s only when we abuse them that this instinct is suppressed. Now that you understand what you’ve been doing to yourself, you feel better about yourself, and you feel better about your body—even while you are still overweight. And, you feel more like actually doing more physically. You probably never thought it would happen, but it did—or it will. So, go with it! Keep moving around more, teaching your body that it doesn’t have to struggle against a lousy food supply anymore. Tell your body you’re sorry, that you didn’t know, and that you’re changing the whole plan, for your body’s sake, for your sake, and for goodness sake!
Review of re-adaptation to the new food supply—reversing the five adaptive responses to the feast or famine cycle:
1. Decrease in appetite
2. Increased metabolic rate
3. Loss of interest in pleasure food
4. Focus on life
5. Desire for physical activity