Let’s Talk About Diets… And Why They Don’t Work
I HATE diets. And I’m talking about diets for weight loss here.
Any “lifestyle change” that includes restricting, body shaming, and guilt is a diet.
Just hearing the word makes me cringe. When I hear associates/friends/family talk about “going on a diet”, I want to shake them while yelling all the reasons why they shouldn’t… I know that feelings of failure, guilt, shame, and self-hatred will claim their hearts and minds and the diet will make them feel like they aren’t good enough. Just like diets always do. “But not this one, this one is different!” they say. And all I can do is politely nod, and walk away because it hurts my heart when I see loved ones repeat the diet cycle over and over again. Is the diet ever blamed for the failure? No, it’s always the person’s fault, because they “blew” it and they didn’t have enough “willpower”. Don’t you see that it’s all part of the game? The diet industry blames the individual and makes money off of every diet failure that occurs, because they know the dieter will be back for more and will bring their checkbooks with them.
There are so many reasons why diets don’t work. Let’s get started!
1. Diets do not produce sustainable results.
If you were not doing the behavior before you started the diet, chances are that it won’t last. You have to ask yourself “Can I do this for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, then it’s not worth starting. Seriously. Find small changes that you can work on, consistently working on sustainable changes.
2. Diets aren’t fun.
Let’s face it, you dread going on a diet because you know that it’s going to be awful. Eating should be an enjoyable experience.
3. Diets restrict.
Do you remember when you were little and your mom would say, “Sally Sue you are not allowed to have cookies until after dinner.” or “You are not allowed to watch TV.” and how automatically that was the only thing that you could think about and wanted? It doesn’t change when we become adults! We want what we can’t have, and when you eat that restricted food, it often turns into a binge (overeating) leaving you feeling worthless and guilty vowing to never eat that food again. And the cycle repeats — overeating/restricting/overeating/restricting…
4. Diets slow metabolism.
It is well understood that your metabolism decreases as calorie intake decreases— which is a good thing if you were stranded in a desert and starving. Our bodies are so smart and extremely adaptable. As you eat less calories, your body figures out how to survive on less calories storing the rest as body fat.
5. Diets are focused on weight.
Let’s talk about how great you are and how who you are and how beautiful you are is not determined by a number on a scale. Diets make you hyper focused on that very number, and that number becomes the very thing that determines if you are going to have a “good” or “bad” day.
6. Diets can lead to obsession and disordered eating.
Diets tend to consume you. Your eating regimen becomes all that you think about, and that can lead to obsession, disordered eating, and sometimes eating disorders which can be very dangerous.
7. Diets increase hunger.
Hormones are released that make you more hungry and less able to feel full. Yeah… Is it beginning to make sense why diets are so hard to maintain?!
8. Diets cause you to ignore body cues.
You finish off your calories for the day and you find that you are still hungry but you ignore the stomach pains, and tell yourself that you can eat again tomorrow. Or you find yourself eating even when you are not hungry. This takes you further and further from your own inner wisdom of knowing what your body needs. Truly, it is the opposite of what we want. And I think it’s important to mention that even if you have been dieting your whole life, you can re-learn how to connect to and trust your body again.
9. Diets don’t change your eating triggers.
What I mean is that diets don’t address the underlying reasons that you are overeating. Diets don’t help you learn to recognize that you may be eating out of boredom, stress, or emotions instead of hunger.
10. Diets make you feel like a failure.
A box of donuts is brought to the office, and you resist reaching for one 94 times. And then you eventually eat one. Even though in every other aspect of life doing something 94 times would be considered a success, in diet-world it’s an immediate fail when you eat 1. It’s crazy.
It’s time to usher in a new way of thinking, and it begins with rejecting the diet mentality. Keep an eye out for future blog posts about intuitive eating and mindful eating. Intuitive and mindful eating are concepts centered on body-love and body trust. It allows you to heal your relationship with food and find food-freedom. Now tell me, who wouldn’t want that?