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Why does an eating system subvert dieting

Let’s start simply and answer the question, what is a system and how does it complicate what looks like something that should require a simple answer. For example, if you weight too much, there’s either too many calories being stored because your not using up enough of them.


If this was a linear problem, the simple answer would be burn more calories or consume less. What we want to do in this article is extend from linear (straight line) thinking, first then look at systems thinking for a better explanation. Linear thinking is focussed on a single problem with a single objective:


We’re stuck focussed on a problem that we assume has only one solution. Looking at the images below, lets visualise the cycle of what we’re doing and the pattern of our weight changes.


When we’re on a merry go round of weight loss regain, we tend not to think of the past efforts because they can seem like failures. And no one likes failures. We think,

  • “maybe I didn’t try hard enough” or

  • “That birthday got in the way” or even,

  • “I feel so bad I need that family size chocolate”.


In a linear way this looks like the following pattern Resist bad foods Derive no pleasure Binge: you cannot take it anymore regret guilt Repent: vow you will do better next time.


This sequence may repeat over months or years. Pictorially we can represent this long straight timeline as a circle. We can summarise multiple months years into a circular pattern. See the image below.


This leads to the following pattern in your base weight.  Your base weight slowly increases due to overshoot.  Overshoot is the delay in the system balancing itself


If you'd like a solution, go to our web site at Weighting for Happiness

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