Breaking the Eat Repent Repeat Diet Cycle

By: Carlene Helble-Elite Nutrition Intern

A buzzword you may be hearing in the dieting world right now is ‘mindful eating’. Being mindful is listening to your body’s hungry full cycle without agonizing about calories and the key to breaking the eat repent repeat diet cycle.  In a teleseminar hosted by Dr. Michelle May , author of ‘Am I Hungry’, her experience as a perpetual yo-yo dieter was used to explain where some of us tend to get off track. Dr. May noticed that people who struggle with their weight, or struggle with making healthy choices are more likely to eat due to environmental and emotional situations. Being sad or lonely can trigger the consumption of salty or sweet foods, something that can really throw a diet off track!

To help us understand our eating decisions and physical activity Dr. May created the ‘am I hungry cycle?’. The cycle starts with asking yourself the question ‘why am I eating’? Are you eating because you are hungry or are you eating because you’re bored? Distracted eating, which can happen when you eat due to boredom, puts your mindfulness on hold. One activity must go on autopilot during distracted eating, and since eating is so easy for us guess which one goes mindless? When mindless eating occurs, our cues to stop, which would normally be a full sensation, becomes reaching the end of the bag, or an empty plate.

If hunger doesn’t tell you to start eating, what will tell you stop? An overeating cycle like the one above, can sometimes lead to a guilt induced restrictive eating cycle. Dr. May detailed that these rules of a restrictive cycle, like eating every three hours or always eating breakfast, are meant to get you to understand your body’s hungry full rhythm. Overeating combined with a restrictive eating cycle defines a yo yo lifestyle. We are wound up so tight with dieting rules, and then spiral out of control. The problem with a yo yo diet, is the lack of a  middle resting place. But being mindful can end yo yo dieting and help you become an instinctive eater.

Remember, the first way to practice instinctive eating is  to ask yourself ‘am I hungry?’