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Why dieting is so inefficient

femme se regardant dans le miroir

© Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Edifa - published on 05/26/21

With summer comes new commitments to lose weight -- but we need to count more than calories.

Each year, before summer holidays, women’s magazines tell us to lose weight. French endocrinologist, nutritionist and deacon, Jean-Michel Lecerf, condemns “this obsession with being thin.” 

Is going on a diet “unnatural”?

Jean-Michel Lecerf: Yes, when my body’s fuel gauge indicates that I am running on empty (that is, I don’t feel satisfied). People are often convinced that consuming something sweet is a crime. So, they become trapped in a cognitive restriction: they feel guilty when they eat sweets and frustrated when they don’t. We must start with defining our objectives: “Do I really have a weight problem? If the answer is yes, does it impact my health, and is it the right time for me to lose weight?” We must stop condemning or idealizing our weight. Instead of calculating calories, let the food surprise us and reconcile ourselves with the pleasure of eating.

Why is dieting inefficient? 

Loss of weight must come as a result of what we can change: sometimes one little thing at a time. Ninety percent of people regain the pounds they lost while dieting. There is a need for a calm educational approach. Our nutritional habits are not entirely rational; they are partially based on our emotions. Am I eating because I am bored or hungry?  Must I have another serving or just finish what I have on my plate? 

I try to help people cope with or control what they do eat: the fats, the sugars, and even how not to stuff themselves with vegetables. I’d rather speak of a “process” instead of which foods they must banish. What matters is the long-term, the positive impact on health, which is far more important than a little weight loss. The end result does not always justify the means.

Even in dealing with weight problem, you must consider the person in all their aspects, right?

As a deacon, I am attentive to the personal context. We can’t blame food for all the extra pounds we put on. Breastfeeding is a positive factor in protecting a person against the intestinal bacteria that impacts weight, while having had a C-section is a negative one. For the most part, my consultations involve helping people accept their appearance and take on healthy habits. Dieting rules are not suitable for every situation. We must determine someone’s natural body type or whether they suffer from various degrees of obesity. 

Is the body the temple of the soul?

Yes, it’s necessary to take care of this body we find so hard to love and stop torturing it. We are body and spirit. Our body is a wonderful instrument and it’s our duty to respect it.

Interview by Olivia de Fournas

Health and Wellness
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