If I were to recommend only one out of the two, then, without doubt, exercise would win.
So what made me avoid recommending diet? Is there a negative impact of dieting that you have not been told about yet? It might surprise you that whereas exercise has positive benefits, popular dieting has disadvantages. In this article, I’m going to shed light on diet or exercise – which one matters most, so do read and think about it.
First, let’s discuss the negative impact of dieting.
Do you know that most diet plans come with restricting calories? And with that comes the risk of an eating disorder. And turning neurotic.
Eating disorders screw up our relationship with food. We eat food because we enjoy it. And we eat to socialize. Nobody eats a large Pizza alone.
Whereas if you start dieting, it changes your relationship with food. It changes your priorities. Now you are the one who is not eating the Pizza.
No big deal? It is, however, when you begin eating because of emotions.
Let me tell you what happens behind the scenes if you have been eating Pizza with your friends. And now you’re stopping yourself. Then you’re using your willpower to avoid this one Pizza. Most psychologists agree that willpower is like a muscle. Once we have exhausted this muscle, we are done for the day.
That would result in emotions overpowering us. You would see a pack of chips… a moment later… it’s gone and ever experienced that?
And it is dangerous. Because after the vanishing act, you would start to blame yourself. I am such a moron blah blah… Those misplaced feelings of guilt and worthlessness additionally damage our self-worth.
The hidden advantage of exercise
On the other hand, when you engage in some form of workout, you ramp up your metabolism. This means the food you’re eating is burnt by your body actively. And is NOT stored in the form of fat.
The icing on the cake is after a good workout; you release feel-good hormones automatically. And say to yourself, “I did it,” it boosts your self-confidence. And the ripple effects mean you succeed not just in weight loss but in other areas of your life too.
That is the reason why I recommended exercise over dieting.
Diet vs. exercise: the conclusion
Coming back to the question, how to control eating behavior if dieting is out of the equation?
I would recommend mindful eating.
Here is the simple rule of thumb to get started: give your full attention to whatever you eat. No TV and no mobile. And stop eating it when you stop enjoying the food. Yes, the full attention rule is hard. So start with giving up the screen once a meal.
The point is to continue to improve your relationship with food. We have not yet fully understood how food and calories work in our bodies. So exercise and mindful eating is your best bet. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to eat with friends and family.