Trying to figure out how to stop yo-yo dieting for good? It’s no secret that yo-yo dieting is unhealthy. If you have tried to stop yo-yoing before, then you know how difficult it can be. But don’t worry! We’re here to help with this blog post on how to end the cycle of dieting, weight gain, and more dieting.

How to stop yo-yo dieting permanently.  Learn what to cut out of your diet and how to control eating.

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What is yo-yo dieting?

Yo-yo dieting, also known as weight cycling, occurs when people repeatedly lose and gain weight. This process causes one’s weight to move up and down much like a yo-yo.

Dieting this way is actually quite common. In fact, roughly 90 percent of people who lose a lot of weight eventually regain almost all of it (source). And thus triggering the cycle all over again.

What causes yo-yo dieting?

The causes of yo-yo dieting are varied, but typically involve a dieter embarking on a weight loss program that was too restrive to be maintained.

Starting a new diet may seem exciting at first, but attempting to maintain extreme diet restrictions for an indefinite period of time has the potential to lead to side effects like depression and fatigue that make it difficult to sustain.

In the end, dieters revert to their old eating habits, but now with the added emotional strain of failing to maintain their weight loss goal.

This visible struggle and emotional toll cause many people to eat more than they did before dieting and thus causing them to regain the weight.

Why it’s important to stop yo-yo dieting

Yo-yo dieting can actually make it harder to lose weight because of the emotional and physiological effects:

  • leads to a higher body fat percentage and more belly fat, as fat is regained more easily than muscle mass (source).
  • increases the risk of heart disease from weight gain and fluctuating weight. The greater the change in weight, the greater the risk (source).
  • repeated weight gain leads to increased blood pressure, which can linger for years (source)
  • takes an emotional toll and  leads to feeling dissatisfied with their lives and health (source)
  • short-term thinking and short-term gain distract from long-term planning and long-term results.

Fasting, fad, or crash diets may provide short-term gains, but there are serious long-term health implications that you’ll want to consider for your overall well-being.

How to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting: Tips on Ending the Weight Cycling

The key to long-term health and weight management is to stop yo-yo dieting and learning how to eat well all the time.

This requires establishing new healthy eating habits, planning for lifestyle changes, and setting goals that are achievable.

1. Avoid processed food

Processed food is the root of most health problems in Western society.

It’s full of salt, sugar, and fat that’s designed to make you feel better quickly before it backfires with hunger and cravings later on.

Processed foods also generally high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber, both of which will work against your weight loss efforts.

Buy whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds instead. These are natural sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that’ll keep you nourished and feeling full.

2. Cook your own food

Cooking your own healthy meals to stop yo yo dieting

When you cook your own food, you know exactly what’s in your food.

When we cook our own food, the levels of salt and sugar are much lower than they would be if we ate out or bought processed foods.

Cooking your own meals also helps save money because ingredients cost less when purchased whole rather than as pre-packaged convenience items.

Eat CleanClean eating is not a fad diet.  It’s a sustainable, healthy eating habit and lifestyle.

Not sure what groceries to get? For a detailed clean eating grocery list to take with you on your next shopping trip, sign up below to get a FREE printable version!

Looking for healthy recipes?  Check out my clean eating recipes.  For additional resources from the blogosphere, check out the Top 25 Healthy Mom Blogs in 2021 for more inspiration.

3. Drink water

Water can help to keep you full and reduce hunger.

As we age, we tend to confuse thirst with hunger. So instead of drinking water we eat, resulting in weight gain.

Drinking water 30 minutes before mealtime has been shown to increase weight loss by 44% over 3 months! (source)

Not only does this keep your body hydrated, but it also makes you feel more full so you are less likely to overeat.

Is plain water too boring for you?  Try these detox waters for weight loss!

4. Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation can lead to many life problems, including weight gain.

When we don’t sleep enough the next day our bodies experience higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol. This increases your urge for sugar-laden comfort foods that lead to overeating and weight gain.

Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night so you can maintain a healthy weight.

Related Post: How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally

5. Exercise regularly

Overcoming yo-yo dieting with walking exercise

Weight loss is 90% diet and 10% exercise. Eating healthy and exercising regularly will give you the best chance at achieving your goals.

While exercise may not be the key weight-loss tool you are led to believe, it’s still key to your overall health and well-being.

Regular exercise helps you to relieve stress and sleep better. It also boosts your metabolism, giving you a higher chance of losing weight.

It’s important to find an exercise that works for you and is sustainable in order to stay consistent with it.

Try different activities like walking, stair climbing, running, or taking yoga classes until one feels right for you!

Taking more steps during your day may be all you need to get your 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Small habit changes like parking your car at the far end of a parking lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can increase the number of steps you take each day.

Related Post: How to Lose Weight by Walking

6. Eat slow

Eating slower and taking the time to enjoy each bite of food will help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.

By eating slowly, you give your body time to realize it’s full. This in turn helps with weight loss by helping us eat less than we actually need.

Remember, it takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness.  Take your time to enjoy your meals.

7. Meal plan

Meal plan and meal prep to stop weight cycling x433

Plan ahead and stock your home with healthy meals and snacks as much as possible.

Our brain likes to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Having healthy food around prevents you from going for that first junk food that you set your sights on when you are hungry.

It’s also never a good idea to go grocery shopping when you are hungry as you are likely to buy on impulse and end up with more junk food.

When you plan out your meals ahead of time, you can grocery shop more efficiently as you know exactly what you need to get.

Meal prep by spending the time to cut, chop and dice the ingredients on Sunday afternoons to make the task of putting the food on the table less daunting during the week.

Alternatively, buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables or ready-to-cook frozen vegetables to shorten your meal prep time and go straight to cooking.

Batch cook and store the leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer. Do this with a few dishes at a time, and you’ll have an inventory of easy frozen meals readily available for when you are busy or just don’t feel like cooking.

8. Eat only when hungry

The main reason we are overweight is that we overeat. We overeat because we are bored, stressed, tired, sad, or name another emotion.

In other words, we eat because we are trying to escape an emotion we are not willing to feel.

Next time you feel the urge to grab that tub of ice cream or bag of chips, pause and check if you are really physically hungry.

Look for signs of physical hunger like an empty feeling in the stomach or a rumbling stomach.  True physical hunger can be satisfied by any food.

If you find yourself craving sweets not long after your meals, your craving may not be due to physical hunger.

A practical physical hunger test would be to ask yourself will a piece of tender and juicy steak satisfy my hunger?  If yes, go ahead and eat to nourish your body.

However, if the answer is no, take a moment to understand why you have the desire to reach for food when you don’t have the physical need.

What are you feeling?  What are you thinking at that moment? It helps to sit down and put your thoughts on paper so that you can physically see what’s going through your mind.

The process of writing or journaling can help to bring insights and clarity to your feelings and diffuse the tension in your body and the desire to escape through comfort eating.

If you enjoyed this article on how to stop yo-yo dieting and are ready to commit to eating healthier and lose weight permanently, start with the clean eating grocery list on your next grocery trip by signing up below!

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