Are you about to start a new diet to lose weight? You might want to take a second look before you do. According to neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, diets don't work. In her TED Talk and research , she explains how our bodies gain and lose weight, why dieting isn't the best way to get healthy, and how to retrain your brain and body to eat better.
Your Brain Keeps You in Check
According to the TED Talk, you have a normal weight range that your body wants to stay within. If you gain or lose too much weight, your brain will send the signal to try and level back out. It's like the thermostat in your house. Aamodt compares it to opening the windows in your house during the winter to cool it down. The heat will kick back on to bring the temperature back down to a set range. When you gain or lose too much weight, your brain signals your body to adjust back to your range. If you try to fight it, and stay too thin, you might end up causing your body to gain weight once the diet ends.
Lifestyle Factors into Health
One of the best ways in general to stay healthy is to change your lifestyle, incorporating more fruits and vegetables, moderate exercise, not smoking and limiting alcohol. Aamodt mentions a study that looked at the lifestyle factors for obese, overweight and healthy subjects. Each subject identified if they had one, two, three or four of these factors in their lives. Having more improved health, but no matter how much they weighed, having all four factors kept them at the same level of health. This means that according to the study, you can be healthy no matter what weight you are, as long as you have a healthy lifestyle.
Become a Mindful Eater
Another topic Aamodt addressed was to change the way you eat and become a mindful eater. She stated that some people are naturally more intuitive eaters, meaning they don't stress over what to eat, have small indulgences and weigh less. On the other hand, controlled eaters try to control their weight through strict dieting, tend to bounce up and down in weight, and often binge after a small indulgence. She says the way to become more intuitive is to become a mindful eater. Mindful eating means you eat when you are hungry, work with your appetite instead of against it, stop eating when you are full, and pay attention to how you feel after you eat. This is how she naturally lost 10 pounds without gaining it back or feeling hungry.
Aamodt sums it up perfectly in her talk: “If diets worked, we'd all be thin already.” Her talk focuses on the idea that instead of dieting, simply eating better, improving your lifestyle, and staying in your natural weight range might be the key to staying healthy.