Bikini season is almost upon us and the pressure to lose those few nagging winter pounds is growing with every Jenny Craig commercial. Dr. Michelle May, family physician from and author of "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat," is a dieting expert. The 47-year-old from Phoenix started dieting at age 11 and dieted on and off through high school, college, med school and into the start of her practice.
As a first-hand expert in the field of dieting, May’s advice for the losing that winter weight is: stop dieting.
"When I stopped dieting and thinking about food, I didn’t overeat," May said.
May said instead of dieting, spend time understanding your body and asking yourself if you are really hungry. She compared this question of hunger to checking a fuel gauge in a car.
"You wouldn’t take serious time considering what kind of gas you need and where you’re going to stop if your gauge says you still have plenty of gas," May said. "We often think â€˜I’m hungry,’ but you need to decide whether your body is really hungry just like you’d check if you’re car still has fuel."
May came to the realization that diets do not work while treating patients in her practice. Her patients, very intelligent people according to May, were struggling with the same weight problems she was having.
"It was then that I realized smart people couldn’t manage food," May said. "You think that you’re just not smart enough or strong enough to manage your diet, but by watching and listening to my patients I realized this was not the case."
When she took the time to look at the world of diets, May said it just didn’t make sense.
"Dieting and diets are always increasing and obesity is becoming more of a problem," May said. "Obviously it’s not working for most people."
When at home with her husband and young children, May said she watched them eat without guilt.
"They weren’t compelled to eat food they didn’t need," May said.
May’s family taught her how to eat without dieting. According to May, they ate what they needed and when they ate too much or when they ate something she might have not been allowed to have on a diet they did not really dwell on it. May said she learned that diets were the problem, not food and began thinking less about what she ate and more about when she was really hungry.
"On a diet you grow more attached to food, because you’re always thinking about food," May said.
May puts no food on a good or bad list, saying there are some foods she doesn’t see worth eating because they have too many consequences and no real benefits, like a Twinkie. But she said putting food into categories creates guilt when you eat the bad food, which is the cause of most failed diets.
"If you really really really really want something you better eat it, because it will eventually find its way back into your life," May said.
May said instead of telling yourself you can’t eat something because swimsuit season is right around the corner make conscious choices like "I could eat that, but I don’t want to."
May admitted this idea of giving up dieting and thinking differently about how you eat is easier said than done. But she said it is the most natural way to eat.
"This is about eating the way we were born to eat," May said. "Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full."