When we think, “no diets work for me”, we blame ourselves for what we consider to be failure or lack of willpower. But if diets really worked, we would all be at a healthy weight and as thin as we desire. I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty strong person and I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, but I could never seem to stick to a diet long term and keep the weight off until I learned to eat like a normal person.
My goal of this article is to explain that it’s not your fault that you haven’t stuck to a diet. I hope you are able to let go of the guilt and lost hope you have towards food and your body. Throughout this site I explain what DOES work, but first you need to understand why breaking the diet cycle is so important.
Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work
Authors, Dr. Albert Stunkard and Mavis McLaren-Hume, published a paper from a 1959 clinical study in which they concluded that 95% of people will not keep the weight off that they had lost through dieting. This statistic has been quoted by anti-diet books and researchers across the globe. So why is it then, that we’ve known for almost 60 years, from scientific research that diet’s don’t work and we still continue to think it’s our fault?
The diagram above is probably a very familiar sequence of events for you. We get stuck in this cycle and don’t know any other way out, except for starting a new diet. We gain hope back when we read about a new life-altering diet and we convince ourselves that, this is the one. This is the diet of all diets, the one that will change my life, I can totally stick to this diet forever and finally be skinny and happy. But unfortunately for most of us, the diet cycle continues.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
Why Are Fad Diet’s Unhealthy?
You think, “no diets work for me”, but in reality, here you are, stuck in this dieting cycle that is making you insane. You start to lose hope and might even feel depressed. Fortunately, you’re in luck, because recognizing the damage that dieting is doing to you and your body can help you break free. Fad diets are unhealthy for 2 reasons – the first one is that it damages your health and usually leaves you having gained back more weight than you started with. The second reason is that it damages you emotionally.
Physical: Dieting Damages Your Health
- Losing and regaining weight (yo-yo dieting) causes stress on your physical body and increases the risk of heart disease. (Source: Framingham Heart Study)
- When you deprive your body, it gets scared and stores fat as soon as you eat again and give it more food. This is something most of us have been told before that we tend to ignore because we are so stuck in the diet cycle.
- You lose a lot of lean muscle mass when you are not feeding your body enough calories. Thus, when you gain weight back, you are left with less muscle and more fat. This can lead to diseases such as diabetes. (Source: LiveStrong.com).
- Dieting makes food cravings worse. Your body is so damn good at doing its job that when you deprive it, it’s going to scream out for nutrients. Whether you’re trying to cut out a certain food, or just eating reduced calories, your body is going to fight against it. Most of the time, we can only withstand our body doing it’s biological job for so long and end up binge eating anything and everything we possibly can.
Emotional: Dieting Can Be Psychologically Damaging
- Dieting can greatly increase your chances of developing an eating disorder. 35% of normal dieters progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders. (Source: Eating Disorder Hope).
- Since diets rarely succeed, they can cause a great deal of lowered self esteem. When you feel like a failure from your unsuccessful dieting attempts, feelings of depression and self-loathing can begin to rise.
- You can begin to feel out of control. Restrictive diets can cause you to binge on the “forbidden foods”, leaving you feeling out of control of your own actions. This creates a lack of trust in yourself and your self control, especially around food.
What Happens To Your Body When You Binge Eat
- It harms your digestive tract. When you overwhelm your digestive tract with too much food it not only becomes burdened from the overload, it loses its efficiency over time. Many people who are chronic binge eaters now have digestive disorders like IBS and leaky gut.
- Your satiety hormones stop function correctly and you not only lose touch with when you’re hungry or full, but it can effect your sleep too.
- Your insulin levels get crazy. Binging makes your body insulin resistant, but your pancreas still keeps pumping out the insulin because of all the junk food you ingest. Extra insulin is then stored as fat.
- Serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain become unbalanced. This can lead us to eat more because we crave the “high”, but the more we binge the less effective the “high” becomes. Which results in the desire to eat more and more to get more of the happy brain feelings.
There is Still Hope
Just because no diets work for you, doesn’t mean that you can’t find peace with food and stabilize your body at a healthy weight. The answer isn’t ingesting only clean foods or intuitive eating, it is a mix of 20 years of research and experience dedicated to learning how to eat like a normal person. So next time you decide to get down on yourself and start thinking, “no diets work for me”, remember that no diets work for anyone! 95% of people who go on a diet end up gaining back the weight (and more) within 1-5 years.