"Out of the obsession with diets"

Like many nutritionists, Jean-Philippe Zermati prescribed diets for years. Due to lack of results and the suffering of his patients, he followed a training as a psychotherapist and took a different approach. In The End of the Regimes (Hachette, 1998), he was already indulging in a harsh indictment against them. Today, he gives us solutions in Dietless Weight Loss (Odile Jacob). Feeling anxious about the scales, counting calories, nibbling, depression, guilt ... There are many who, obsessed with two or three extra pounds, constantly monitor their diet ... and end up eating more and worse! In "Dietless Slimming", the nutritionist analyzes the perverse mechanisms and often dramatic consequences of this behavior, and proposes exercises to reconcile with food ... and with its weight.

Interview by Hélène Huret

Psychologies: Would we all be victims of a "big" food neurosis?

Jean-Philippe Zermati: Unfortunately yes. Today, most women - and men get started! - are fat, rightly or wrongly, and fail to lose weight permanently despite a state of steady state. A paradoxical phenomenon that psychologists refer to as "cognitive restriction", an unconscious attitude that leads to limiting or attempting to limit food intake. The eating behavior is no longer regulated by sensations - hunger, taste, satiety - but dominated by the intellect.

Dogs and beliefs - eat well, drink plenty of water, do not skip meals, etc. - govern the way of eating. Schematically, the person in a state of restriction - or restricted eater - classifies foods in two categories: those who make fat (fat, sugar, etc.) and those who lose weight (vegetables, fish, etc.).

Why is this a problem?

Jean-Philippe Zermati: Because by dint of denying his hunger and satiety, his likes and dislikes, the restricted eater does not perceive them anymore! And its relationship to food becomes problematic, because thinking of eating less or otherwise, paradoxically, it is first thinking of eating! This invasion of thought by the food sphere is always accompanied by fierce resistance so as not to succumb to temptations. But the more the resistance intensifies, the more the obsessions are amplified ...

And as the will is not inexhaustible, one day or another, we lose control and we finally crack! In perpetual war against food, the restricted eater ends up not knowing what to eat. "What makes the least fat or what makes the most pleasure?Are there foods that make you happy without getting fat? But if I start, will I be able to stop? "Here, spontaneity, freedom have no place.

What are the psychological repercussions?

Jean-Philippe Zermati: At first, All is well, we feel that we can influence the course of things, control our appetites, despite the deprivations, there is a kind of exaltation to do everything possible to find a "dream body". body, it is then to show that one does not let go, that one is voluntary.But this euphoria fades over time to leave room for an irritability and a hypersensitivity, sometimes difficult to support for

In general, restricted eaters are more anxious, more sensitive to stress and depression, and when dietary restriction is really severe, it can lead to confusion, disrupting school or work life. Finally, the losses of control are followed The feeling of shame, guilt and self-esteem.

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