I love peanut butter. As a kid, I used to eat it out of the jar, spoon first. Although I grew out of the spoon phase, I still love it with bread and honey, with chocolate and in nearly any candy bar.

What I never did know about my love for peanut butter, is that it made me feel sick. I was so out of touch with my body and the effect of food on my body that I never realized that the sick feeling in my stomach was the result of the food I just ate.

It took time of working on my food and body image issues to put it together and even longer to realize that my tummy rejects peanut butter only when I have eaten more than my body can handle. This is good to know because now, when I get that sick feeling, I just stop eating peanut butter for a while and then I can eat it again later, if I want. Of course, I always have the choice to eat it, and sometimes I do choose it, even when I know I may not like how I feel later. But, I have a choice and the choice is mine.

Although this does not fully demonstrate why diets don’t work, it does show the result of dieting and/or listening to what others tell us to eat. When you diet, you stop listening to your body and you start listening to what others say you "should" or "shouldn’t" eat. You may become overwhelmed because there are SO MANY others telling you what to eat (doctors, diet creators, mothers, fathers, friends, grandparents, siblings, nutritionists, magazines, TV, radio, the internet, personal trainers, even therapists). As children, you know exactly what your body wants and needs. You eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. As you grow up, you begin to trust others more than yourself. You start to diet because you think that is how you become a good, successful, attractive person. After all, that is what the diet industry and society tells you.

Dieting doesn't keep you from not thinking about your favorite foods, you think about them more.

What does a diet tell you to do? Eat this, don’t eat that, this is good for you, that is bad. But, have you noticed that the "bad" food is usually always your favorite foods? And, even if you love the "good" food, if you eat it long enough, you will eventually hate it.

So, when you stop eating the food you love because the "diets" tell you to, you may lose some pounds, but, when the diet stops, you eat your favorite foods again. However, you rarely will just eat a little of it. Your body and mind think you starved yourself and now you can’t get enough of it. You eat more and more. It may become an obsession. If you go back on the diet again, you think you don’t know if you can ever eat it again (because the "diet" said it was bad for you) and so you binge on it just before the diet. You all know this… the "my diet starts tomorrow" philosophy.

In addition, when you do "lose it" and start bingeing on the "bad" foods (even just thinking about the food can trigger this for some), you think you are bad, weak, or undisciplined for eating it. Of course, for many, that bad feeling just leads to more bingeing.

And, there you are, right in the middle of the binge/purge cycle. Even if you don’t use vomiting to purge, you purge emotionally just by beating yourself up for eating. "Bad food" becomes "Bad me". Bad me leads to bingeing.

Diets don’t work. In fact, diets even make you fatter. Researchers are finally looking into the diet phenomenon and discovering this. I have recently noticed diet ads have started to include "results not typical". They certainly can leave you feelings more out of control with food. And, studies show that people who diet gain more weight over time and the yoyo weight gain and loss can lead to more health problems as it is hard on your body to go through this cycle.

Lastly, not dieting is way more fun! Imagine eating what you want and having your favorite foods in the house for weeks, without fearing you will eat it all in one sitting! It is absolutely possible and a great way to live your life.

Suggested Exercise:
Pick your favorite food and eat it as much as you want! Give yourself full permission to eat it and to enjoy it.

Notice and pay attention to when you start to get bored with it, this may even take less than one week. Notice as your favorite food becomes less and less appealing until you don’t even crave it anymore. Don’t worry, though, you will crave it again.

What you will notice is that when you let yourself eat when you want, the crazy feeling you have toward food will naturally lessen. You won’t be eating it out of reaction to feeling bad about yourself or because you’re not supposed to eat it. You now have a choice about eating it.

Author's Bio: 

I know first hand what it is like to deal with food and body issues. For years, I struggled with food issues and hating my body. I compared myself to every woman I saw and resisted exercising refusing to give into what other people told me I should do and how I should look. I ate to hide how I was feeling and to avoid being close to anyone. I thought I couldn't be loved if I was fat.

12 years later, I am pleased to say all that has changed for the better. I no longer use food to cope. I feel good about myself, my body, and my life. I am now passionate about helping others recover as well. I love that my job as a counselor is helping you to eat whatever you want and feel good about it.

Along with my personal and professional experience with eating disorders, I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon. I hold a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University, Santa Barbara, CA.

My counseling experience spans 8 years and has included studying and working with experts in the eating disorder field, teaching counseling and communication skills classes, and assisting and managing several personal growth seminars and support groups. I have provided counseling to people with a variety of relationship issues, including adults who were abused as children.