If you want to lose weight, you should go on a strict diet and eliminate an ongoing list of unhealthy foods. Or so we think. But new research is shining a light on the theory of dieting, and researchers are suggesting that if we want to lose weight, we’re doing it all wrong.
A new study just came out of the University of Helsinki in Finland. The researchers looked at a wide cohort of men and women who were successfully losing weight and keeping the weight off, and what they found surprised them: By eating more, people lost more weight.
Ulla Kärkkäinen is a weight loss researcher and a licensed nutritional therapist through the university that conducted the study. “Often, people try to prevent and manage excess weight and obesity by dieting and skipping meals,” says Kärkkäinen in a press release about the study. This might be counterintuitive.
Kärkkäinen warns that such all-or-nothing, black-and-white approaches to food and dieting can backfire. “[Diets] seem to accelerate getting fatter, rather than prevent it,” says Kärkkäinen.
What Did the Study Show?
This new dieting and weight loss study was part of a larger research study. The university followed nearly 5,000 participants over the course of an entire decade.
The researchers mapped out not only how people were dieting, but they also looked at the participants’ overall lifestyle, including habits, schedules, etc.
In the end, most of the participants in the weight loss study weren’t able to successfully keep the weight off over the study’s 10-year period. But the ones who did all had one thing in common: Consistency.
How The Study Applies to Your Weight Loss and Dieting Journey
It’s easy to get caught up in the latest diet trends and fads, but this is where we go wrong, warns Kärkkäinen. Instead of zeroing in just on losing weight and a specific diet, the researchers suggest that we look at our overall lifestyle and find constant, consistent ways to invest in our health and happiness.
“Our findings demonstrate that weight management would benefit from…perceiving the factors that impact human well-being and the sense of meaning in life as a broader whole,” suggests Kärkkäinen.
When you take your food out of context and look at your diet as simply a list of dos and don’ts, you may not see how other areas of your life are impacting your wellness and happiness, and how that, in turn, affects your ability to stick with a healthy eating plan.
To apply this surprising new study to your life, consider the following:
- Focus on eating regular, healthy meals. Avoid trendy “detoxes” and “cleanses” that reduce or eliminate entire food groups or meals during the day.
- Find ways to take care of your overall wellbeing. This may include finding hobbies and passions that increase your sense of happiness.
- Invest in your joy. Find what gives you a greater sense of presence, and makes you feel that your life has meaning.