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How to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting Once and for All

Woman eating pizza

It seems that with every new year, a new fad diet pops up. Paleo, Keto, Atkins, South Beach, intermittent fasting, juice cleanses… you’ve tried them all.  


They all work, right? At first. Then, things change. 


Then you give in to your cravings and your diet is over. All the weight that you lost at first comes rushing back, sometimes with a couple more pounds. With the weight gain, you feel the need to start a new diet.


The new diet works… at first. Then the same thing happens again. Rinse and repeat. 


This cycle is called “yo-yo dieting”, and if you struggle with it, you’re not alone. Nearly 70% of women are stuck in this cycle gaining and losing at least 10kg over and over, not only that but yo-yo dieting can also affect your heart health. Being stuck in this cycle can lead you to wonder how to stop yo-yo dieting, and if breaking the cycle is even possible.


I have some great news for you – food & body freedom is possible, and you can learn to stop dieting. Ending the yo-yo dieting cycle starts with learning how to love and respect your body instead. 


The Problem with Yo-Yo Dieting 

Learning how to stop yo-yo dieting starts with learning about your body. Yo-Yo dieting is harmful because your body loves consistency. The more familiar something is, the more you’ll like it. This is called the mere exposure effect, and it’s why you keep coming back to dieting even when it makes you miserable. 


In order to break that cycle, you’ll need to start looking at the effects dieting has on your body, not just on your weight. 


One of the most important organs that yo-yo dieting can affect is your thyroid. Your thyroid is a gland that helps maintain body temperature, weight, and healthy organ function. Rapid weight loss or gain can have a harmful effect on your thyroid. This is because the weight gain cycle causes stress in your body.


Stress in your body from restrictive dieting can lead to thyroid damage because your thyroid is there to keep things consistent. The yo-yo dieting cycle is a tough thing for your thyroid to keep up with. The longer you’re in this cycle, the harder it gets for your thyroid to heal. 


A damaged thyroid could lead your metabolism to permanently slow down. This means that your body burns fewer calories, so when you leave your diet, your body doesn’t speed up your metabolism to compensate. 


Rapid weight gain and loss also upsets the most important organ in your body: your brain. Research suggests that weight cycling can lead to mental distress, like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. In other words, if you’re unhappy with your body, dieting is part of the problem, not the solution.


These kinds of negative mental health effects are made worse by the financial and social stress yo-yo dieting causes. When learning how to stop yo-yo dieting, it’s important to pause and think about just how many things you “can’t do” because of diets. 


Chasing fad diets leaves you always spending money on the latest “health foods”. There’s a new supplement, ingredient, recipe book, or meal kit to buy all the time. Even when you aren’t cooking at home, going out with friends is a nightmare. 


Making plans to see a film or go to brunch ends up being something you dread. You’re surrounded by unhealthy snacks at the cinema, and your favourite forbidden foods everywhere. 


Friends might pressure you to give in and “cheat”, but more likely the pressure to stick to your diet is internal. Dieting reinforces negative thought patterns and gives you reasons to criticise and judge yourself. 


When you’re stuck in the pattern of dieting, this happens constantly. Wanting to “cheat” on your diet leads you down a path of self-judgement and self-hatred. You think poorly of yourself, you believe you are a failure and you are bad for wanting to eat “naughty” foods.


This self-judgment leads to fear of slipping up in front of others. You start to worry that if you give in to the cravings, you’ll be found out. Everyone will know you’ve “failed”. 


The fear of being “caught or found out” and the self-judgment might keep you on your diet for a little while… but not for long. Eventually, you binge on those “bad” foods – often it’s to cope with the stress and anxiety of all that fear and self-judgement. 


After a binge, the guilt, shame and self-judgment are stronger than ever. You might be tempted to punish yourself, by abusing laxatives or exercise, restricting food, or other forms of self-punishment. At the very least you go back to restricting your food choices, and the cycle happens over and over again.


Worst of all, even if you do restrict yourself, you still won’t be happy with yourself or your body. This can lead to emotional eating, where you turn to food to cope with negative emotions. Yo-yo dieting is one of the biggest emotional eating signs to look for on your journey to food & body freedom.


How to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting

Next on our journey of how to stop yo-yo dieting is learning how to love and accept your body. The constant binge starve cycle might be why you can’t lose weight, but it definitely harms your relationship with yourself and your body. 


Your relationship with yourself is where all this starts. Until you believe you are worthy of care, caring for yourself will be so much more difficult than it needs to be. That’s because until you learn to practise self-care, self-love and self-compassion, you’ll be hurting yourself mentally and emotionally every day. 


Hurting yourself mentally and emotionally all the time makes it impossible for your mind to heal. You’ll be stuck in that stressful place of self-loathing and self-judgement, criticism, and an unhealthy cycle simply because you can’t move on from that. 


Moving away from yo-yo dieting includes replacing unhealthy habits with healthy habits. I’m not just talking about food here, but truly healthy habits that heal both your mind and body. This includes rediscovering the joys of all foods, and moving your body in whatever way feels right for you, it could be going to the gym or a walk in the fresh country air and practising self-care….. 


These healthy habits can help your body naturally drift to what we call “set point weight”. What is setpoint weight? It’s a range of weights that your body likes to stay at. In other words, a natural, healthy weight that fits ‘your’ body.


More importantly, healthy habits can help you be happier and guide you on your path to food & body freedom. 


Food & body freedom. Imagine for a moment: you don’t have anxiety about food or your weight. You can eat your favourite “junk” food and not feel guilt or shame. There’s no more searching for a diet, no more hating yourself for the number on the scale, no more calorie counting or no more fighting with all your power not to have ‘naughty’ foods. 


It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?


The best news of all is that food & body freedom is achievable. You can find peace with your body & food by following my food & body freedom programme. 


When most people hear about this, their first question is, “Can eating intuitively help me lose weight?” Well, maybe and maybe not. Eating intuitively and weight loss don’t always go hand in hand, but listening to your body will help bring you to a healthy weight for you and your body.


That might mean weight loss or weight gain, but when you’re practising eating intuitively it won’t matter. All that matters is listening to your body and being kind to yourself. 


The three tips I have for learning how to stop yo-yo dieting can be summed up in one mantra: “I will listen to my body, I will eat what I want when I want, and I will speak kindly to myself when I pass by the mirror.”

Let’s dive into these in a little more detail. 


“I will listen to my body”

The first part of our mantra is the cornerstone to food & body freedom. The best and only way to successfully break the dieting cycle is to learn how to listen to your body. Just like being unkind to ourselves, most of us have ignored our bodies for years and years. 


We’re all born listening to our bodies. Babies cry when they’re hungry, no matter how recently they ate. Toddlers run, jump and move their bodies as much as they want to then they’ll drop off to sleep when they’re tired, even in the middle of the afternoon. 


Learning how to stop yo-yo dieting means you need to learn how to listen to your body again. What are your hunger cues? How do you know when you need some exercise or rest? Be patient, learning to listen to your body will take time, consistency and lot’s of practice. 


Start checking in with yourself. Are you happy? Sad? Angry? Bored? Then, think about how your body feels. Are you fatigued? Is your stomach growling? Are you thirsty? Finally, give your body and mind what they need. You might need to rest, have a snack, find an outlet for your emotions, or take some time for movement you enjoy.


Bingeing doesn’t feel good on our minds OR bodies, but the more we are kind to ourselves after a binge and know it is ok the less likely we are to binge again. The problem isn’t the foods we choose. The problem is the state of our minds when we choose them. How do we feel before the binge? What are we trying to ignore? 


“I will eat what I want when I want”

If you’re in the same place I was a few years ago, this phrase probably sends you into a panic. Eating WHATEVER you want, WHENEVER you want? It’s a recipe for disaster, right? Actually, no. 


Remember, the problem isn’t the food. The problem is ignoring your mind and body. It won’t be food freedom if you don’t eat what you want whenever you want. The first step when learning how to stop yo-yo dieting is letting of all restrictions and giving yourself permission to eat all foods. 


This means no more restricting of what you eat or when. Even if you want to eat a whole chocolate cake at 10 am! 


First, check in with yourself emotionally. Why do you want to eat a whole chocolate cake at 10 in the morning? Did something happen that led you to find comfort in food? Are you having a productive day and feel the need to reward yourself with something sweet? Or is it that the chocolate cake just really looks delicious?


If you’re just craving it, just eat the cake. Take your first bite. And then check in with yourself. How does your body feel? Does this feel comfortable? Am I enjoying eating it? If the answer is yes, keep eating. If the answer is no, stop eating. Your body will always tell you.


Keep checking in with your body as you eat, and stop when you’re satisfied. I just bet you’ll be done with your cake before the cake is gone.


If eating intuitively had restrictions, it would just be another diet. Food & body freedom is all about, well, freedom. No more obsessing over what you eat and when. Eat when you’re hungry, eat what sounds good, and stop when you’re satisfied. It’s as simple (and as difficult) as that. 


“I will speak kindly to myself when I see myself in the mirror”

For thousands of women, this is the hardest thing on the list. We’ve all spent years and years picking ourselves apart in the mirror. 


I invite you to start noticing your inner voice. This can be hard to do, since hating ourselves and being critical is second nature, so take a moment to be truly mindful. Stand in front of a mirror and observe the thoughts that come to your mind about yourself and your body.


Would you say any of these things to a best friend or a beloved family member? Chances are, the things you tell yourself are things you would never say to someone else. So why are you speaking to yourself this way?


Stop yo-yo dieting and learning to love yourself means breaking this bad habit, but that’s easier said than done. The first step will be giving yourself dedicated time to practise speaking to yourself with a positive inner voice. 


This can be done any time of day, but you’ll need to remind yourself. You might set an alarm to help you remember, or do it at a certain time of day, like every time you get out of the shower. Stand in front of the mirror, and find three things you like about your body. Then compliment yourself on them. If you can’t find three, start with one. Just start. 


This might look like this: 


“I love the way the curve at my hip catches the light.”


“I love the way my eyes sparkle.”


“This scar tells a story that I get to carry with me always.”


“These stretch marks are proof that I’ve grown my beautiful baby inside me”


You deserve to be spoken to kindly and so does your body, especially from yourself. Your body is beautiful just as it is


Switching your internal narrative won’t happen overnight. After all, you’ve been criticising your body for many years, maybe without even realising it! It will take lots of hard work, but gradually, you can start to love and accept your body instead. Speak kindly to yourself and your body, both in front of and away from the mirror.


Breaking the Yo-Yo Diet Cycle and Finding Food & Body Freedom

Breaking any cycle is incredibly difficult. Girls as young as five years old can start thinking about dieting, and these thoughts are usually coming from their mothers. This means that the dieting cycle has continued for generations. No wonder it’s so hard to stop dieting! 


No matter how long you’ve been doing it, it is possible to learn how to stop yo-yo dieting. When you stop that cycle, you can start feeling comfortable in your body. You can find food & body freedom and enjoy all kinds of foods without shame or guilt. 


And you can be happy with what you see in the mirror. Yes, really! Just think of how wonderful it will feel to wear what you want without finding a reason to hate your body. 


Changing old patterns can be difficult to do on your own. That’s why I created my Signature Coaching Programme – Food & Body Freedom. You deserve to have help and support while learning how to stop yo-yo dieting and find food & body freedom. No matter how you choose to embark on your journey, food & body freedom and a happier life await you. You can do this! 


If you are struggling with binge eating, emotional eating, yo-yo dieting or poor body image and you want some clarity on why you are stuck – I offer a limited number of FREE 30-minute calls each month.


On the calls, we will

  • Get clarity on what is the root cause of your binge eating/emotional eating
  • Identify your biggest struggle
  • What is stopping you from achieving your goals?


“After my work with Tania, what used to feel chaotic and overwhelming in my life now feels effortless and exciting. Nothing has changed in my external world, but the way I think about it has completely transformed. I have balance, I can relax without guilt, I have boundaries, and I like the person I see in the mirror for the first time in my life (yes, even naked!). After years of disordered eating, obsessive macro counting, daily weigh-ins, and secret binges, releasing this 24/7 obsession I had with food feels like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders – one I didn’t even know I was carrying.” – Averi


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