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Making of a Serial Dieter

I’ve always been curious as to why some people are more prone to dieting than others.

I have clients at both ends of the spectrum and I’ve always wondered what makes their attitude towards dieting so different. I have clients who have been on diets on and off since they were a teenager (until they joined TNA) and then I also have clients who have never been on a diet or even considered going on a diet their whole lives.

So what makes someone more likely to be a ‘dieter’ ?

I read a really interesting article the other day which looked at teenage dieting, and it said that if you start dieting as a teen, you are very likely to continue dieting throughout your adult life. This made a lot of sense to me because I know that dieting can become a cycle - you go on a diet, you lose weight so you come off the diet, then you put the weight back on so you start the diet again - it seems never-ending! One of the first things we do when you join TNA is help you break this cycle for good.

As you would imagine, there's never a single answer to a question like 'what makes a serial dieter?', instead there’s a whole host of different reasons why certain people are more likely to grow up to be dieters than others.

A big factor of course was gender; it’s no surprise that women are much more likely to start dieting than men. This is actually one of the reasons why I chose to only coach women because women are often so deep-rooted in diet culture, they cannot see another way - and it's my job to show them. I love to see my clients' confidence and happiness grow as they shed the weight of dieting they've carried for so many years.

Another big one was low self-esteem. Teens that lack confidence and control, and do not feel happy with the way their body looks may use dieting as a way to feel better about themselves. I can see this in myself a lot because when I was younger, I dieted endlessly as I thought I needed to look like the girls on tv, in the magazines, and on social media.

Parents are also likely to have a large influence on whether or not a teenager will become a dieter. Research shows that if parents diet themselves and encourage dieting at home, the teen is more likely to diet too. Also, if a parent criticises a child’s weight or if they are teased about their weight at school, that child is more likely to become a dieter in the future.

One of the most shocking things in the article was that dieting as a teenager may actually have the opposite effect over time than intended: teen dieters are likely to gain more weight over time than non-dieters. This shocked but did not surprise me since dieting can cause unhealthy eating habits like binge eating and an obsession with food.

Many of my fabulous clients are super mums too, so as a mum, what can you do to help your children grow up with a healthy relationship food?

  • Ditch the diet for good - your kids look to you as a role model so if you’re constantly dieting, they probably will too.

  • Teach them to be wary of fad diets especially diet pills meal replacement shakes.

  • Explain that exercise is great for many different reasons, not just weight loss.

  • Educate them on the difference between a “healthy weight” and the “cosmetically desirable weight” promoted by extremely thin models/actresses etc in the media.

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