Why diets don’t work and what does

The internet is getting filled with articles telling you that diets don’t work. Buzzfeed recently published an article with the opinions of 13 experts, all against diets. And they are not the only ones. There are also the non-experts, like myself, who learned the hard way why diets don’t work and how much harm they can actually do. If you didn’t get the chance yet, you can read my story about how a simple diet ended up ruining years of my life and leaving lasting effects on my body.  Part 1 is about the diet that becomes an obsession and part 2 about how I healed from binge eating disorder.

Why diets don’t work

Restriction

First and foremost, all diets are based on restriction. You have to restrict the number of calories, cut out sugar, fruit, fat, bread, drink this or drink that. While it’s true that cutting out things like sugar and processed foods is good for you, if you combine it with calorie counting and a restriction mentality in general, the results can be disastrous.

One of the big problems that sets people up for failure when it comes to diet is mentality. Why? Because even when you choose a really healthy diet, you do it for the wrong reasons. Say you need to loose a couple of pounds and you decide to stop eating at fast-foods. That’s a great choice. But unless you are convinced about how unhealthy fast-food is and what a great favor you’re doing to your body, you’ll be unhappy. And it will be because you’re cutting out something you love just for the sake of dieting. And when you finally hit the goal there are two options. You either go back to eating fast-food and gain the weight back or you just set a new goal and keep on dieting and being miserable.

Because, let’s face it. Even when you’re making progress towards your goal weight, you are miserable. Statistics show that dieters are at risk of falling pray to depression after just one week of dieting. How is that a gain?

They don’t focus on who YOU are

Yes, you read that right. Diets never really focus on who the person is. Sure, you’ll need to take your measurements and most diets are adapted to your needs depending on your weight and height. But that’s not who you are. How many diets take into consideration the state of mind of a person? How many are tailored to the psychological needs of an individual? None. Or at least none of the mainstream diets. I hope there are nutritionists and doctors out there who focus on all of these things.

Think about it. A woman who gained weight after years of suffering in an abusive relationship, who turned to food for comfort should not be approached in the same way as one who has a happy relationship and is trying to loose the baby weight. In the same way you cannot compare these women with one in her 20s trying to get in shape. We are all different. Thank God for that! It would be a boring world if we weren’t!

Approach weight loss differently. Why did you gain weight? Why are you trying to loose it? Are you truly happy or is your discontentment with body image a discontentment for your life? Work on these answers first. Then decide how you approach weight loss. You’ll see the game changes dramatically.

They don’t focus on health

OK, I probably shouldn’t generalize, because some diets do focus on health. But the vast majority don’t. And the mentality around dieting (yeah, there’s that again) is not about health. When someone decides to go on the cabbage soup diet, they are NOT considering health. The same goes for the majority of people choosing other diets be it low card, low fat, high fat, low sugar. Results are good at first. Forget how it affects your health. Forget the unreasonable low calories and the huge chance of yo-yo. By the time they start to yo-yo, they are in a circuit that’s very hard to escape from. Choose health.

So what works?

Love yourself. Don’t judge yourself. Believe in yourself. This is where you start. This is where real, lasting change starts. Diets don’t work. Loving and respecting yourself does.

If you find yourself thinking I’m insane, I do know self-love alone isn’t gonna make you loose weight. But if you start there and then you respect yourself and your body, you’re gonna make better choices. You’re gonna make the choices that can positively impact your life and your body in a lasting manner.

Is that number on the scale worth it? Is that all you are? Are you really going to place all your worth on a number? You are so much more than a number. Find pride in those things. See your value. Know your worth.

Lifestyle changes

When your mindset is in the right place, start asking yourself what changes you can make to feel better, to be healthier. Eat healthy foods. Go with natural foods, try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Cook simple, avoid complicating things in the kitchen. I mean, simple cooking also takes less so it’s a win-win. You’ll see at first you are craving the old things quite often. Allow yourself to eat them when you really crave them. Forgive yourself, then go back to focusing on health. In time, you’re body will ask for less and less junk.

Move your body. Don’t overdo it. I know “no pain, no gain” is everywhere in gyms, but it’s not always true. If you hate what you do, you’ll eventually give up. Find an activity that you enjoy. Maybe it’s walking, or swimming or running, maybe it’s yoga. You might like games like volleyball or basketball. Move your body. Don’t focus on how much it hurts or how much you sweat. Focus on how good you feel, how happy it makes you. Diets don’t work. Happiness works.

P.S. I know I left out some tips like portion control and how exactly to figure out what is healthy. Honestly, I think this is a subject in itself so I will leave it for another article. Also as a disclaimer – if you have health issues that contributed to your being overweight, you need to see a professional. That being said, the advice in this article can benefit anyone. Because in my experience, most people suffering from the slightest weight issue will at some point hate and blame themselves.

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Comments (7)

  • Avatar

    Melissa Welby

    This is a great post reminding us about what is important- self love and health not a number. When people start setting themselves up for success by making goals with the right priorities then things can progress from there.

    Reply

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    Sophie Clapton

    I loved reading this. I really couldn’t agree more. I really think lifestyle changes and loving yourself are so much more important. Thank you!!

    Reply

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    Kira

    So empowering and holistic! Weight loss is just as complex as gain. We need to acknowledge the number on the scale does not reflect our whole selves.

    Reply

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    Keianna Harrison

    I have tried EVERY diet in the WORLD. They work for a time… then they don’t. A few tiny little lifestyle changes – less bread and soda – and BAM! 20 lbs gone. Funny how the simplest things have the best results. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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    Ajay Chander R.

    This is very good info.. for anyone, i loved the way you explained and now i got it why diets dont work..

    Reply

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    Lorna Holowaychuk

    I have never believed in diets !!!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Richa Sekhar

    my take away….I am human and I eat to fuel my body….well written .cheers

    Reply

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