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Here's Why Your Diet Isn't Working (According to Science)

This interview is from the Like Mind, Like Body podcast. You can listen to the full interview below, on iTunes or Google Podcasts.

Why do diets make you feel so hungry? Why do some people only lose weight when they stop counting calories? How come you can exercise just as much as your peers, but not see the same results? Stanford professor and mindset researcher Dr. Alia Crum has been focused on answering these questions for the past decade. Join us as we investigate just how much of an impact our thoughts and feelings have on the effectiveness of diets, exercise, trips to the doctor, and more.

Does the impact of our exercise have a lot to do with our mindset and expectations about it?

I think a lot of people sort of equate mindsets with just sort of “power of positive thinking,” but the effects of mindsets are very specific. And the negative consequences of mindsets in medicine, often called nocebo effects, are equally as powerful. So if you are getting a lot of exercise, but feel like you’re not getting enough, or it’s not the right type, or you’re not getting as much as people your age, those are very specific negative mindsets that can trickle down and have effects on your direct physiology, your mood, your motivation. And through all of these channels, they can have these lasting effects on our health and our well-being.

Does a “restrictive mindset” have an impact on the effectiveness of diets?

We wonder why diets don’t work, and we think it’s in part because of this. Because even if you are restricting calories, the mindset of restricting is working against you - slowing your metabolism and keeping your hunger levels high. and you know, it’s a lot broader that a traditional “diet.” We’ve shown in another study recently that the mindset that healthy foods are “depriving” and kind of “distasteful” is actually really deep and pervasive in our society.

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