If you want to lose weight, the first thought most people have is that they must need to go on a diet.
We’re taught from a young age that dieting is THE solution for weight loss, and that the reason we put on weight (or can’t lose it) is simply that we’re eating too much.
The problem with this is that weight loss is never that simple.
And there are some really good reasons why diets DON’T work and can actually cause you to gain more weight over the long term.
But why is dieting so problematic?
Why isn’t it the best solution if you want to lose weight and keep it off?
And more importantly, if diets don’t work – what does?!
In this article, I’m going to share 3 reasons why diets don’t work, and what you can do instead to lose weight and keep it off for good.
1. Diets create a deprivation mindset
Imagine if I told you that starting Monday you can never eat chocolate again.
What would you do?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably going to fill up on ALL your favourite chocolates before Monday, even if it makes you feel sick.
This is the same self-sabotage that results from a diet-focused mind. Diets encourage you to restrict or avoid certain foods, and this starts the vicious LAST SUPPER binge cycle.
If you tell yourself you can’t or shouldn’t eat a certain food, this can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings.
When you finally ‘give in’ to the forbidden food, eating is experienced with such intensity, it usually results in overeating and overwhelming guilt.
I said Monday because this is a common day when people start their diets, fuelled by guilt from an indulgent weekend.
The problem though is that the more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you’ll want to eat that food. It’s really that simple.
And this is why diets are never a solution for long-term weight loss.
Because when you rigidly limit the amount of food you’re allowed to eat, it usually sets you up to crave larger quantities of that very food, which leads to a never-ending dieting cycle that’s not effective and really not fun.
2. Diets are based on nutrition science – not eating behaviours
I’ve been a dietitian for over 20 years and am university-trained in the science of human nutrition.
Does that mean I always make the best nutrition choices for myself?
Why? Because eating is a behaviour.⠀
And behaviour is influenced by more than just knowledge.⠀
Sometimes my eating is influenced by my emotions, energy levels, my level of planning (or lack thereof!), and a whole host of other things.⠀
And this is another reason why diets don’t work.
Because the science of food and human nutrition is very black and white.
Scientists analyse foods in a laboratory to determine their nutrition profile, and then conduct robust experiments with people to determine the effect certain nutrients have on the body.
But day-to-day life doesn’t happen in a perfectly controlled environment – and there are a whole host of psychological and other reasons that drive our eating behaviours.
This is why diets and meal plans are great in theory, but not so much in practice.
Because they don’t take into account all the other reasons why we eat or the various social settings we may find ourselves in, which makes it hard to stick to them for a long period of time.
3. Diets actually increase your risk of gaining weight
Many people think that dieting is the only solution if they want to lose weight.
But actually, studies show that dieting isn’t just ineffective for losing weight and keeping it off, but can actually lead to more weight gain over the long term.
Why? Because biologically, your body experiences the dieting process as a form of starvation.
Your cells don’t know you are voluntarily restricting your food intake – your body simply does what it’s designed to do and shifts into survival mode.
When this happens, your metabolism slows down and your food cravings increase.
And with each new diet, your body learns and adapts, resulting in rebound weight gain.
This is why many of my clients say their first diet was easy.
The weight just fell off – but then they put the weight back on, and find it much harder to lose it with every subsequent diet they go on.
That first dieting experience is like a seduction trap that locks you into a futile pursuit of weight loss via dieting.
Because your body is wired for survival – and it will do what it needs to do to protect you, whether you want it to or not!
What to do instead of dieting to lose weight for good
So, it’s clear diets aren’t the answer to long-term weight loss.
Which leads to the question – how do you lose weight and keep it off for good?
Well, this is something I help my clients achieve, and the first step is to identify what’s really driving your eating behaviours – and then implement some strategies to help you overcome them.
Because emotional eating – or eating for reasons other than biological hunger – is the biggest reason why we struggle to lose weight (or put it on) – so overcoming it is really the key to long-term weight loss success.
To do this, it’s important to reconnect with your hunger and fullness signals.
Before you eat, stop and take a couple of deep breaths and check-in with yourself.
Are you actually physically hungry, or are you looking to soothe an emotion or comfort yourself with food?
If you do find that you’re eating for comfort rather than hunger, try to identify what those triggers are.
Then, see if you can come up with some other strategies that you can use in those moments instead of food.
By doing this, you’ll start to break out of the diet cycle that’s keeping you trapped, and give your body what it really needs so you can achieve your naturally happy weight.
So now you know why diets don’t work, and what you can do instead to achieve long-term weight loss.
And if you want to know more about how to overcome emotional eating – I have just the thing for you!
You’re invited to join my free Masterclass: How to End Emotional Eating in Just 5 Steps that I’m hosting on Tuesday, 23 August 2022 at 1pm and 7.30pm AEST (Syd/Melb).
In this free live masterclass, I’ll be sharing:
- The 3 biggest reasons why you emotionally eat or can’t stop emotionally eating.
- My 5-step plan to end emotional eating that doesn’t include relying on willpower or following a restrictive diet.
It’s the exact same framework I teach my 1:1 clients in my 30-day End Emotional Eating program.
And now I’m going behind the scenes and sharing it with you too!
Click here to save your seat
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