Why Diets Make Us Fat | Sandra Aamodt

Summary of: Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss
By: Sandra Aamodt

Introduction

Embark on a transformative journey as we unravel the misconceptions about weight loss in ‘Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss’ by Sandra Aamodt. Get ready to challenge society’s outdated mindsets on dieting and willpower, as we delve into the science of the human body’s weight regulation mechanisms and energy-balance system. Learn about the adverse impact of weight discrimination and fat shaming on our mental and physical wellbeing. Finally, discover the art of mindful eating and understand why building healthy habits and incorporating regular exercise is a more sustainable and effective approach to overall health, rather than focusing on mere weight loss.

The Brain’s Weighty Defense System

Your body has a built-in mechanism to defend its weight within a certain range. This energy-balance system keeps your weight close to what your brain considers normal. However, the system is easily upset by the body’s reward system, which evolved to help our hunter-gatherer ancestors survive. The reward system triggers a feel-good response when we eat calorie-rich foods, pushing us into a loop of overeating. Dieting can amplify this response, leading to even more overindulgence. This means it’s easier to raise your body’s defended weight range than to lower it. Therefore, finding a sustainable healthy range is key to maintaining a healthy weight.

The Folly of Relying on Willpower

The human capacity for willpower is limited, and relying solely on it makes achieving long-term goals like weight loss difficult. Studies have shown that willpower is effective for short-term tasks, but it’s not equipped to handle repeated actions over a prolonged span. Even after investing your willpower, it needs time to recharge. Scientific research has shown that willpower is least effective when regulating food intake. On the other hand, willpower can regulate automatic behavior. Habits, therefore, play a crucial role in forming a healthy diet as they don’t require ongoing willpower to maintain. In conclusion, one must not rely entirely on willpower to meet the weight loss goals, but instead, develop good eating habits to stay on track.

The Harmful Effects of Fat Shaming and Media Distortion on Body Image

Fat shaming does more harm than good as it leads to weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. This affects people of all ages, especially children and teenagers who are more vulnerable. The pervasiveness of unrealistic body images in the media also causes mental health issues related to weight. A study conducted in Fiji showed how foreign media can distort local cultures and ideals of beauty, leading to a dramatic change in the relationship with food and the body. This highlights the urgent need to address the negative effects of fat shaming and media distortion on body image.

The Genetics of Weight Gain

Evolution and genetic makeup are why we easily gain weight but struggle to lose it. For centuries, humans had to cope with famine, which made our bodies exceptional at holding onto weight. Overeating was also discouraged by the constant threat of starvation. As readily available food became more common in recent centuries, these evolutionary adaptations have become a disadvantage for our waistlines. Genetic makeup also plays a role in one’s predisposition for obesity – even subtle differences in gene expression can lead to significant variations in weight gain. Studies on identical twins consuming and burning more calories highlight the power of genetic makeup in determining body weight. If you want to know your predisposition to weight gain, you can take expensive genetic tests or look at your family’s waistlines.

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