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Dieting Psychology
Are you one of those people who starts off with a diet plan and goes off track because your cheat meal turns into a cheat week? The next Monday or the first of the Month that you wait for, to start off with a plan, never arrives?

Ever questioned, why do such things happen to you? Well, it is never too late to be aware. Unless we are aware of the root cause, it will keep happening, right?! Let us take a look at how all of it can be resolved.   FOOD AND US So, we need food to survive but food is much more than just a fuel for our body. We all have an emotional connection with food. Humans have 5 sensory organs (eyes, nose, skin, ears, and tongue). When we receive positive rewards, like a praise, smiles, or pleasurable sensations from food, we are more likely to continue the same behavior. Food itself is not inherently good nor bad; our food choices, preferences and habits are a result of our social conditioning.   Indians have a habit of eating more spicy food as compared to a person living in the United States. But some food items such as chocolates or ice creams provide a positive reinforcement in the form of pleasant taste sensations and a lift in our mood. Our relationship with food is a result of thousands of other influences like advertisements, television, movies, books, magazines, our peer groups, and our culture. Remember the first time you saw a McDonalds or KFC advertisement on television? Everyone instantly developed a craving for the food shown in the advertisement even though they’d never tasted it. Our relationship with food is as important as the actual diet. It is the result of the thoughts and the experiences we have with certain food items. The Sufi poet Rumi had remarked: “The satiated man and the hungry man do not see the same thing when they look upon a loaf of bread.” Different individuals will metabolize the same meal differently. In other words, what you think and feel about food can be as important a determinant of its effect on body weight as the actual nutrients themselves. Let us take an example of a plate of rice with green veggies and chicken. Someone who wants to lose weight will see it in terms of protein, carbs, fats and calories. He/she will favor the veggies and chicken but would try to avoid the rice just in case. An athlete will look at it as a fuel for the next training. A pure vegetarian wouldn’t touch anything on the plate.   Most of the people might not be aware of this fact, but, the food that you consume and the way you feel about it, can impact your life in a big way. For example – A cup of coffee or tea may brighten your day. But this beautiful relation can get ugly. In case you missed out on coffee/ tea, it can make you cranky and it might ruin the entire day. Depending upon certain food to enhance your mood is where the slip starts. Human minds think in black and white terms. A certain food item is good or bad (‘the good carbs and bad carbs conundrum’). When this happens, consuming certain “Bad” foods can make someone feel really guilty. No food is good or bad. There is just good nutrition or bad nutrition. Good or bad rule-based eating doesn’t take hunger, craving and food habits into consideration. There’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to be slim (Yes! You heard it right! Even in 2018, some women want to be merely slim and not fit). But depriving yourself of important nutrients by doing a detox or a body cleanse diet or even cutting out certain food groups and pretending that it is all for restoring your health could be dangerous. It is bound to backfire and set off the ‘Starve, Binge, I Hate Myself’ cycle that can actually make you gain weight instead. Imagine having a parent who, after every small mistake, called you a worthless failure. When it comes to dieting many people do it to themselves. Eating sweet treats or snack foods occasionally are not a cause to feel guilty. When someone has a pollen grain allergy it is better to avoid them as much as possible. Similarly, if there are certain food items that are your weakness like Salted peanuts, candies or chocolates keeping them out of sight during the initial phase of dieting keeps them out of mind works. Many people do not realize that their relationship with food is a bit messed up. And, they are not aware of it. It involves so many aspects of life specially your mood and your well-being. It withholds the potential to prevent lifestyle disorders such as diabetes and obesity from happening. Stop comparing yourself to others. In 2018 our society is mostly governed by social media which gives us diet hacks and what not, to give us a quick fix. Stop the fads diets and focus on building your relationship with food and your body will thank you for it. Be aware of what you’re putting into your body. And most importantly stop rewarding yourself with small treats after a period of diet. This technique is used to train the animals, and there is a reason why Human is on the top of the evolution pyramid. Think about it!   Author credits: Dr. Aniket Jadhav ,BAMS, MD (Ayurveda)
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