Dieting has become so popular that it’s estimated around 70 percent of the female population, and 30 percent of males have followed one at some stage.
The worrying thing is that many people don’t seem too concerned about whether the diet they choose is healthy or not – all that matters is losing a few pounds!
Although diets often produce results in the short term, unfortunately very few can maintain this weight loss for the months and years that are ahead.
Thus the yo-yo cycle of dieting continues, and it’s often to the detriment of your health long-term.
So, why don’t diets work?
#1 Diets are not designed to work!
If everyone could simply lose weight and keep it off, there would be no money in it for the diet companies.
In fact, most of their profit is made from repeat orders, for example in shakes, soups, and ready meals.
If you think about it, it’s really not in the interest of diet companies for you to lose weight and keep it off, is it?
I believe that many programs are actually designed to keep you fully dependant on their products for life. The consequence of stopping using their products is weight gain.
This is why following a ‘diet’, which teaches you about portion control, eating real food, and also looking at the emotional side of eating, is so important.
Anything short of this is bound to fail.
#2 Dieting is a short term fix
If you think of dieting as a short term thing, you are probably setting yourself up to fail.
This is because when you don’t plan for the future, you are really only thinking a couple of months ahead. So, when you lose a few pounds, you end up going back to your old eating habits, and gaining back the weight plus extra!
Think of it this way, if you are taking medication for high cholesterol, which is successfully lowering your cholesterol levels, by stopping taking this medication you would expect your cholesterol levels to begin increasing again, wouldn’t you?
A weight loss diet works in much the same way. When you stop following the plan, you begin gaining weight again.
While it is difficult, try to think of your diet as a new way of life.
For example, if you are currently drinking shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, can you keep this up for life? And if not, what is your plan of action when you stop taking them? Will you go back to your old way of eating? How will you prevent this from happening?
These are very important questions to ask yourself right now. I’d suggest jotting down some solutions to these questions as a way of beginning to plan for your future right now.
#3 Diets don’t encourage exercise
Many weight loss diets do not encourage both exercise and healthy eating as a whole package. However, if long-term weight loss success is what you’re after you need to realise that exercise and a healthy diet go hand in hand.
If your current diet promises you can, “Lose 10 pounds without any exercise!” be wary of it.
One of the problems with losing weight and not exercising is that you are losing muscle as well as fat. The more muscle you lose the slower your metabolism becomes, which will eventually make it even more difficult to lose weight.
Try to get in some exercise every day. Remember, it doesn’t have to be intense, but you should notice your heart rate increasing. Aim for at least 30 minutes, but preferably somewhere around 60 minutes every day.
#4 Diets don’t create lifestyle changes
If you want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight you need to work on making lifestyle changes that you can maintain for life, not simply a one off event.
Check out my free ebook, “The Lifestyle Makeover Guide” for more tips on doing this.
Focus on making small gradual changes in how you eat, for example stitching from one bottle of coke per day, to water. Or, swapping your afternoon chocolate cookie for an apple and some peanut butter.
Instead of learning all about the latest fad diet on the market, why not endeavour to learn as much as you can about controlling food portions? This is something that will be a huge help to you in the future.
It will also enable you to eat the foods you love, but in correct proportions, rather than eating a bunch of foods you just don’t even enjoy every day. Much more satisfying!
#5 Diets can slow your metabolism
Diets are often extremely restrictive in calorie intake, which can cause your metabolism to slow down.
This means you burn fewer calories each day. And, if you’re not exercising, you will also be losing lean muscle mass, which further slows your metabolism.
Make sure your calorie intake isn’t too restrictive. 1,200 calories per day is considered to be a very restrictive diet, and it won’t give you the nutrients and energy that you need for your body to stay healthy.
#6 Dieting makes you feel like a failure
Research shows that no matter what weight you are, dieting can make you hungry, and create powerful cravings for the very foods you are trying to avoid, such as sugar and fat.
Not only do these cravings lead to overeating, but it usually ends up causing feelings of guilt and failure.
Rather than viewing lapses as a sign that you’ve failed, you should think of them as inevitable. Now, this is not to say you go out of your way to eat the foods you are trying to avoid. However, you shouldn’t beat yourself up every time you overeat.
Telling yourself, “I’ve totally blown it again,” only serves to make you feel inadequate, and a victim in the yo-yo cycle.
A more balanced eating plan would allow you to have small amounts of your favourite foods, without the guilt factor, or the possibility of falling off the bandwagon every time you’re around unhealthy foods.
You must remember you are the one in control. So, take control of the situation, and don’t let food rule your life!
#7 Diets don’t help with your emotions
Do you eat to help you deal with emotional problems, rather than because you’re hungry?
Many people do, but a diet simply won’t help you with this. If anything, it can make you even more depressed, because it becomes one of the issues that cause overeating.
Check out my post on emotional eating and how to over come it.
#8 Dieting doesn’t change your core habits
If you are to lose weight and keep it off, you will have to make permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits.
It’s commendable to want to be a healthy weight and to manage your eating, but dieting as we know it, is not the way to do it.
For long-term weight loss, you will need to change your whole lifestyle. While this may sound completely daunting, trust me it is completely do-able.
In fact, you may even find it much easier than many of the diets you’ve been following throughout your lifetime.
So, what is a good diet?
A healthy diet for weight loss is balanced, nutritious, and enjoyable.
It will encourage you to:
- Get five (or more) portions of fruit and veg each day
- Eat fibre-rich foods
- Reduce your intake of fat (especially saturated and trans fat)
- Reduce your sugar and salt intake
- Drink plenty of water
- It doesn’t encourage excluding whole foods groups, such as carbs, meat or dairy
- It doesn’t focus on single foods, such as cabbage soup, or meal replacement bars
Check out this article on common weight loss mistakes.
What are your weight loss secrets? Perhaps you’d like to share your story with the other readers – we’d love to hear from you!