Here’s Why Diets Don’t Work
This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for details.
If you’ve been stuck in the never-ending cycle of dieting for most of your life, it’s not just you! 45 million people go on diets every single year. But still 70% of Americans are overweight. Something’s not working! Here’s why diets don’t work, and why you should commit to stop crash dieting today.
News Flash: Crash Diets Don’t Work!
For almost everyone, trying to get a ‘head start’ on weight loss backfires. Trying a very restrictive diet can lead to bingeing, metabolic damage, and mental health issues. Diets like the grapefruit diet, going raw vegan, the meat diet, or any diet that severely restricts entire food groups, is unhealthy and unsafe. It might jumpstart your weight loss, true. It might also give you uncontrollable diarrhea, slow down your metabolism, and put you through a ton of stress. And, you’ll probably gain all the weight back and more. Just don’t do it! Here are some reasons diets don’t work.
Fasting Can Be Dangerous
Choosing not to eat, even when your body is begging for fuel, is particularly damaging. You’re not listening to your body’s cues, but outright ignoring them. Fasting, even for just a few hours, can cause low blood sugar, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and more. These symptoms can range from annoying to dangerous if you continue to perform regular activities like driving and working out. Fasting can be beneficial for spiritual reasons if you’re cautious, or if directed by your doctor. But always be careful and pay close attention to what your body is saying… and for most of us, that’s to eat on a regular schedule!
It can take months or years to heal from crash dieting.
People who have lost a lot of weight often need to eat far fewer calories than who weight the same but have never lost weight. And that isn’t just temporary – they need to continue eating less to maintain their new lower weight! However, their hunger hormones are still ramped up, causing them to stay hungrier. Lower basal metabolic rate, plus stronger hunger cues, means most people regain some or all of the weight they lost, and some people regain even more! Diets just don’t work for most people because of the ways our bodies react to weight loss.
How You See Yourself
Have you ever noticed that, after you step off the scale, you feel different? If you lost some weight, even just a pound, you notice your clothes feeling looser and your face looking slimmer. Or if you gained a pound, you can’t ignore your double chin or pregnant-looking stomach. But guess what – you’re the only one who notices!
Judging your weight or how ‘clean’ you ate can drastically change your perception of how you look. At its most extreme, this is called body dysmorphia: when you really believe your body looks completely different from how it actually does. And, the more you diet – and the more your weight yo-yos – the more confused your view of yourself will become.
If you’re still stuck in the cycle of dieting, you’re probably familiar with this story. You hear about a new diet, method of eating, or lifestyle change. You’re super excited because you know this is the one that’s finally going to work! You read all about it, find success stories, follow people on Instagram, buy special food at the store, clean out your kitchen. The first few days are great. You have tons of energy, you feel light, you’ve already lost five pounds. You could keep this up forever!
Then, you start to get hungry. You find yourself thinking about food all the time. Your body feels like a bottomless pit. You get grumpy, headachy, you’re getting backed up (or the opposite), and worst of all, your weight loss slows down. All this meal prepping is getting old. You finally crack and eat a ton of fast food and dessert. All that weight you lost is back by morning. You angrily eat everything in sight, hating yourself because of your lack of willpower and for failing, again.
This process isn’t just yours. Every chronic dieter has gone through it, and it’s why diets don’t work! As our body realizes we’re headed into a period of famine, we get preoccupied with food. Our instincts tell us to eat everything we can before things get really bad. This isn’t something to fight through with willpower and fiber supplements. Feed your body consistently!
Diet Mentality Needs to Go!
Diet mentality is all those thoughts that add up together, telling you that foods are good or bad, what you deserve is based on your body shape or weight, you need to earn what you eat… and more. The first step to getting rid of diet mentality is just noticing when these thoughts come up, and how they make you feel.
When you see a brownie, do you feel shame even before you eat it? When was the last time you enjoyed a nice meal without thinking about calories and regret? As these diet mentality thoughts come up, refuse to let them have power over you. Think something else to counteract it. It’s a lot of work to undo the programming we’ve gone through all our lives that tell us how good we are is based on what we eat or look like… but it’s worth it.
Commit to stop crash dieting! We know that diets don’t work and that they can really mess with your head. They certainly did for me. So I’ve committed to stop dieting, doing crazy lifestyle changes, changing when or what I eat… and whatever other sneaky hidden ways to diet you can think of!
What does that look like? I stopped tracking my calories. (I’m still tracking what I eat to look for migraine triggers, but I’m not tracking calories, fat, carbs, or how much I eat.) I also stopped weighing myself regularly – obsessing over this number makes me see things that aren’t there. I’ve also decided to stop exercising to burn calories or ‘tone up’ – I exercise when I want to, when it feels good, and when I start to get restless. All of these actions are part of the dieting mentality, telling us that we are out of control. Trust yourself, listen to your body, and stop dieting and counting all those numbers!
Your body doesn’t need to be controlled.
Shocking, right? We’re taught that if we don’t keep ourselves on a tight leash, our hedonistic nature will take over and we’ll end up on an episode of My 600-Lb Life! But it’s just not true. Listen to your gentle hunger and fullness cues – they’re quiet, subtle, and you’ve been ignoring them for so long, they might have just gone silent. It will take a few months or even years of adjusting to a diet-free lifestyle. You might find yourself eating to discomfort, or eating so much of those foods you’ve kept yourself away from that you get nauseous! Look into Intuitive Eating for more about trusting your body.
Be kind to yourself: you just stepped out of the crash dieting, weight cycling jail you’ve been trapped in for years. Remember that your weight is not your worth. You don’t need to earn your dinner with exercise (or your dessert!). You’re a complex being, not a pet that needs two meals and a walk every day. Enjoy your life give up this stress you’re putting on yourself – because diets don’t work!
Could you ever give up dieting? What’s holding you back? Tell me in the comments!
If you liked this post, Pin it!