The psychology behind yo-yo dieting

The psychology behind yo-yo dieting and why managing your thinking
is the best way to a slim and healthy body!


If you are a yo-yo dieter, like the majority of people consulting Thrive consultants for weight loss, you will have a history of losing weight then gaining the weight you have lost, if not more. You then become trapped in this cycle and your belief about being able to maintain a healthy body weight becomes limiting. You don’t believe you can ever lose weight to maintain a healthy body weight and this is backed up and reinforced by ‘evidence’. Your ‘evidence’ can go back years and normally covers successful attempts made at losing weight, then something happens and you went on to pile the weight back on. You will describe starting a new wonder diet or exercise regime with great hope that this will be it, this will be the time that you are successful and become a slim, happy human being! Two weeks into it and because you have a compulsive, instant gratification thinking style where you want to be slim and happy RIGHT NOW, you feel depressed that you aren’t.

You start thinking about how long it will take you to actually reach that end goal of yours and start doubting yourself. Because you then start feeling down and you haven’t been giving yourself credit about how far you have come already and the fact you have been exercising five times a week, choosing healthier meals and cutting out snacking, your hard work becomes easy to dismiss as you haven’t got the results you were hoping for. You think, ‘what’s the point?’ You start to feel a bit down and your compulsive thinking style kicks in so you reach for some chocolate to make yourself feel better. And go back to doing what you have always done before, eating bigger portion sizes, un-healthy choices and snacking. This then reinforces that limiting belief that you can never lose weight and stick to a healthy way of eating, leading to a feeling of being powerless in that area of your life.

The other thing that can happen is you have been out for a meal/birthday party/holiday and have slightly overindulged. Instead of thinking ‘Maybe had a bit too much there, never mind, it was only one night/meal/holiday, I shall get back to making healthier choices, cutting down my portion sizes and going for a bike ride’ you catastrophise and think in a black and white way about it. By catastrophising, you are thinking worst case scenario, as in you have completely mucked up your diet and have put on a stone just from one meal/holiday and you look awful. Then your black and white thinking style kicks in and you think ‘what’s the point, I might as well go and have that packet of biscuits now because it’s not going to matter’ and your weight spirals from there. If you hadn’t of catastrophised about it or thought in a black and white way, you would still be well on your way to losing and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Take a moment now to think back over your weight loss experiences over the last few years. There will be a pattern of behaviour and thinking styles involved. What if every time you had had a big meal/missed your exercise, you managed your thinking surrounding it? What if you hadn’t catastrophised, thought compulsively or in a black and white way? What if you had challenged that limiting belief system? Where would you be now on your weight loss journey?

This is a brief explanation of what happens and the basic psychology behind yo-yo dieting. Suffice to say that losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight starts and continues with what is going on in your head and how you feel about yourself. It would be wise to look at that if you are serious about losing weight, rather than being seduced by the next ‘quick fix’ diet that promises you the earth and ends with you reinforcing that limiting belief system and adding to that powerless feeling.

If you would like help to lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Thrive Consultants and book in for your free initial consultation.

Clare Waterer

Thrive Consultant and Blogger

Clare Waterer Hypnotherapy