False Hope Syndrome: The Headcase for Dieting

Psychologist Peter Herman, quoted in “Rethinking Thin” by Gina Kolada, says that usually when you fail to reinforce a behaviour, logic should stop us from repeating the behaviour.

So it follows that if you fail to lose weight following a diet, then you should logically not try to diet again because it didn’t work.

However, there’s something about controlling our body weight that makes humans respond differently to failing to lose weight on a diet.

Herman says when we fail at a diet, we make one of two choices:

  • conclude we didn’t do it right/try hard enough, or
  • there was something wrong with the programme.

Of course – that’s why diet books fill the shelves of bookshops and new weight loss centres and programmes spring up all the time: everyone else has have got it wrong, we’ve got it right and this time you’ll succeed with us.

Making one of those choices gets you poring over the food lists, reading the testimonials of people who loved the programme and succeeded (however temporarily – they never say that!) on it, and feeling positive this time that it WILL be the last time you do it!

Herman calls it False Hope Syndrome.

And if you’ve ever dieted (likely you have, or you’d not be reading this blog), you probably know exactly how that feels, at the beginning of the cycle……. And at the end of it.

And maybe you’re looking for a better way, maybe you’re finally, finally sick of the way you beat yourself up when you work so hard to lose weight, and then it creeps back on no matter what you do.

i'll never have a perfect body

At time of writing this, I’m 46 years old. I’ve been an Australian size 8 and an Australian size 18. I’m currently a size 16. I eat well, good healthy food. I exercise regularly. I feel great: happy in mind and body and spirit.

The turning point for me was when I finally gave up the endless quest to try the new miracle diet. My mum still looks at me sadly, assessing my body as less than perfect. But the truth is she did that when I was a size 8 as well, my ankles weren’t perfectly thin and my calves not quite shapely enough.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be ‘perfect’ in body. It’s freed me up to focus instead on feeling healthy and strong and happy.

And in its own way, that’s perfect too.

Cos the last human who was perfect, was crucified 😉

Hope for me was in using EFT to deal with all the negative images and thoughts and beliefs I’ve ever had about my body. Might work for you too?

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