TED Talk: Why Dieting Rarely Works

Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt explains the science behind dieting flaws, providing interesting insight into how our brains manage our bodies. She also shares some personal facts about herself to illustrate the scientific approach to dieting and provides some tips on living a less diet-obsessed life. ) In the US, 80% of girls will have been on a diet by the time they’re 10 years old. That is an awful way for a young girl to think about her body, which is why I think this is a really important talk, presented in a very new light. Aamodt also points out that girls who diet early on in their lives are far more likely to become overweight later on in life. This is related to the concept of intuitive eaters vs. controlled eaters, which is eating when you’re hungry, instead of necessarily being strict in your eating habits, denying yourself food. Also, the typical outcome of dieting is gaining weight rather than losing it in the long run. tedtalkdieting6 Aamodt promotes eating mindfully as an alternative to dieting, that is, you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. Pretty simple, right? And way less stressful, I can imagine. Her talk is fascinating. I like reading and writing about body image, or trending diets, or photoshop snafus, but learning about the actual science behind weight loss is incredibly interesting. She explains how the hypothalamus is the part of your bran that regulates weight, and uses a thermostat analogy to explain how your brain always wants you to return to your “set point” (which is actually a misleading term as it is usually a range of 10-15lbs). Even if you think you need to lose weight, if your brain disagrees with you it will push you into a weight that it considers normal. tedtalkdieting4 When I work out and eat well I feel good. I often don’t lose weight. On occasion my clothes fit a bit better, but generally the number on the scale dips by a pound or two and that’s it. Listening to this makes me feel a bit better about that, not because it gave me anything to do to combat that, but because it gave me a different way to look at it. I should continue to work out and eat well to feel healthy and to prevent weight gain, not to necessarily promote weight loss. It’s not the most feel good TED Talk of the year, but definitely an important and difficult thing to hear. Also, it’s not entirely hopeless, Sandra Aamodt points out that it’s still very easy to take control of your health, even if you can’t talk control of your weight. tedtalkdieting

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