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Are You an All or None Dieter? Medical Minutes Episode 9 with Doctor Craig Primack

Welcome to Another Medical Minute.

Today’s topic is about all or none dieting

Unfortunately, all or none dieting, it’s very, very common in the patients that I see in my clinic.

To describe what all or none dieting is, if you are all on the dieting side, it’s you begin a new plan, you say, “I’m going to do it right this time. I’m not going to eat this food and that food”, and you set up very strict rules about staying on course for your diet.

Unfortunately, occasionally, for one reason or another, we do break those rules. We eat the food that we say we weren’t going to eat and unfortunately, that causes us to go to none.

When we are none on our diet, we’re eating indiscriminately foods that do make us feel good at the time, but bring a lot of guilt on later. During that time, we’re also unfortunately likely gaining weight. And then a few days go by, the guilt gets strong enough, it becomes most likely Monday, it’s time to start the diet again, and what happens? We go back to all.

Unfortunately, going back and forth in this sense is not great for our long-term weight success.

What I want you to think is have an analogy that we call “dimmer thinking”.

If I change the subject and I think about a light or a lamp that you have in your house, if it is an all or none switch for that lamp, sometimes what we call the rocker switch, in one setting it’s all the way on and then it’s all the way off. That is not always the best way to light our homes.

Sometimes we want it somewhere in the middle and so we attach a dimmer switch to it. In the dimmer switch, we can have a full light, we can have a medium light, or if we need to even a quite dim light, but it still is not zero. So if you think of your diet in that way, when we’re all the way on it’s like that switch is all the way up. If we eat the food that we said we were not going to eat, most likely our light, or our diet, is not going to zero. It’s going from 100% of light to 95 or 90, or even say it was something really out of the ordinary, it was 85% of our diet right now at this one meal. Well, guess what? It is not zero. We still have 85 to 90% of our diet still going.

If you then did something during the day that was healthy for you…

if you went for a walk, if you took a nap because you were tired or such, you did something good for your body, you go from 85 or 90%, maybe up to 92 or 95%. Now our diet’s just a little bit less than 100%. You go to sleep that night, restful you wake up in the morning and, guess what, your diet is at 100% again.

So in the future, if you have been an all or none dieter in the past, think about not being an all or none dieter.

Think about becoming like that dimmer switch.

You may be at 100%, you may be a little less, 95, 90, even 85%, but doing something good for yourself, exercise, doing a hobby, meditating can bring those numbers right back up.

Thanks and I’ll see you next week.


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