Why dieting doesn't work - and what to do about it

Posted on: 09 October 2014 by 50connect editorial

Joanna Henson author of What’s Your Excuse For Not Eating Healthily? questions the value of dieting and says lifestyle has more impact on weight gain.

Healthy living choices beat weight gain

What do most people do when they want to lose weight?  They go on a diet.  And for the vast majority, it won’t be the first diet they’ve been on.  And the reason they are planning to start another diet?  Because they believe diets work.  But if that’s true, why would people ever need to embark on more than one?

In fact diets do work, but only in the short term, and only temporarily – leading to a cycle of yo-yo dieting along with the cycle of guilt and the judgemental self-talk about being “good” or “bad” with food.

However according to health and wellness coach Joanne Henson, author of ‘What’s Your Excuse For Not Eating Healthily?’ the problem is actually the whole concept of dieting, not the dieter.  And this is why:

  • Diets are restrictive – and when something is declared off limits, guess what?  You can’t stop thinking about it.   In the words of one of the dieters Joanne interviewed for her book ‘What’s your excuse for not eating healthily?’; “When you’re told you can’t have things you immediately want them”.

  • Diets require food intake to be constantly monitored – points, calories, red and green days, fat grams, etc.  So guess what?  You end up thinking about food all the time. 

  • And that’s another problem with diets - they generally concentrate on reducing food intake, either generally or for certain food groups, so you’re constantly feeling deprived.

  • Diets also foster self-hatred.  Listen to a dieter and you will hear them use words such as “bad” and “naughty” to describe the times they’ve strayed from their diet plans.  Dieters generally spend most of their time feeling guilty and angry at themselves. 

  • Finally, diets are usually marketed as a sort of project – something with a start and an end date, or an end target weight.  And when dieters reach the end of that project, they revert back to their pre-diet lifestyle, which is what caused them to gain the weight they have just worked hard to lose!  

All of these things set you up for failure, over and over again.  And the more you diet, the worse your relationship with food will become.  Also, the reduction in food will mess up your metabolism so that when you reach the “end” of your diet, your body will be primed to store fat much more readily, and before long you’re likely to end up back where you started. 

So what do you do if you want to lose weight and keep it off?  First of all, understand that the problem isn’t you; it’s the whole concept of being on a contrived and restricted eating plan with a start and an end date.   

The alternative and effective route to a permanently slimmer you is a permanently healthier lifestyle.  A healthier lifestyle is not about life-long deprivation, and does not mean being on a permanent diet.  If you choose the right foods, you shouldn’t need to reduce the quantity, and if you get the basics right, there’ll be no need to cut out the occasional treat either. 

So ditch those plans to join a slimming club or start another diet on Monday (or after Christmas, or in the New Year)!  If you’re not sure what constitutes a healthy diet, get some advice, and then make small changes to how you eat; one change at a time.  Take it slowly – one small change every week for two months will add up to a significant shift in your lifestyle. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast every day

  • Drink more water

  • Add more vegetables to your meals

  • Replace sugary drinks with healthier alternatives

  • Have healthy snacks to hand at all times to prevent hunger getting the better of you

  • Do some regular exercise

  • Have a few alcohol-free night each week 

So there you have it – how to lose weight and keep it off without embarking on another diet.   Now what small change could you introduce this week to get started on your own journey to a slimmer, healthier, happier you…..?

About Joanne Henson

Joanne Henson is a health and wellness coach, specialising in helping people with a history of failed diets and fitness regimes to change their relationship with food and exercise for good.  From unhealthy beginnings she overcame her own obstacles and now motivates and inspires others to become the healthier, leaner, happier people they’ve always wanted to be. 

Joanne is the author of ‘What’s Your Excuse For Not Eating Healthily?’ and ‘What’s Your Excuse For Not Getting Fit?’  Both are available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle format.


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