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With the festive season upon us, we’re all about to be bombarded with the ‘New Year New You’ advertisements and the ‘Have YOU put on a few pounds lately?’ guilt-inducing messaging. But by now, we all know diets don’t work, don’t we? Yet still, the $72 billion diet industry is constantly shaming us with misinformation and trying to convince us that the only way we’ll be happy with ourselves is to deprive ourselves of the things we love the most. Well, we’re here to tell you that there’s no way to shame yourself into a happier and healthier you. And that’s why its time to quit dieting for GOOD!

Why don’t diets work?

In our most recent article, Why Diet and Exercise Alone Won’t Help You Lose Weight, we discussed the many reasons why diets don’t work. Key amongst these reasons is that deprivation is no way to live a life. In fact, depriving oneself through dieting has actually been shown to lead to increased weight, not the opposite. This is because restrictive eating and calorie counting are both forms of disordered eating and can lead to an unhealthy and unrealistic relationship with food. Furthermore, a restrictive attitude to food, and regular deprivation, actually lead to overeating or ‘binge eating’ – which is equally unhealthy. Want to improve your health for real, then it’s time to quit dieting!

Why it’s time to quit dieting once and for all

Not only are diets ineffective in the long-term, they’re also likely to be, at best, emotionally exhausting and at worst, psychologically damaging and even physically harmful. Even if you do experience some weight loss, this is generally short-lived and often results in not only putting back on any weight lost, but an extra few kilos to boot! Still need convincing? Here are the top 5 reasons diets don’t work:

  1. Diet and exercise aren’t the only factors

Simply put, diet and exercise regimes don’t take into account the reasons for your eating or exercising habits, or your overall health. The fact of the matter is, if we all ate and exercised in exactly the same way, we would still all look different! Bodies are unique, and so, your approach to a healthy lifestyle should be unique too. Diets just don’t look at the bigger picture, and that’s one of the major reasons they don’t work.

2. Diets don’t assess your motivations

Why is it that you want to lose weight? Is it because you’ve been shamed into thinking that you’re unattractive, unlovable, or unsuccessful because of the way you look? Perhaps you’ve suffered with an eating disorder or a previous unhealthy relationship with food; in which case, a diet can be an extremely harmful thing to embark on. Diets don’t take into account your reasons for wanting weight loss, nor your current relationship with your body and with food. Not only are they overlooking these key factors and therefore unlikely to be of any long-term help, they’re also potentially very harmful to your mental and physical health.

3. Diets teach deprivation and end in misery

Fancy being locked into a food prison for the rest of your life? Not many of us do. That’s why diets just don’t work. Restrictive eating is only sustainable for a short amount of time and doesn’t teach us life-long healthy habits to properly fuel our bodies and set us up for success. That’s why the dieting industry is so successful: when one diet fails, we keep coming back for the next, and the next, and the next. Only to see ourselves constantly fall ‘off the wagon’, as we realise that we can’t keep up with those crazy food rules! This inevitably leads to misery, feelings of failure, and setbacks in our health.

4. Diets teach us to hate ourselves

Dieting teaches us that branching outside of a strict restrictive eating plan is a failure, and that we need to make amends for the things we put inside our bodies. That every time you ‘crumble’ and eat that piece of cheesecake, you then need to punish yourself by skipping dinner or working out for an extra hour. They work on a cycle of punishment and deprivation for a long-term reward that is unlikely to come. Worst of all, they teach us to hate ourselves, distrust our body’s natural cravings, and punish ourselves for our perceived failings. That’s no way to live a life, and that’s no way to have a healthy relationship with food or your body.

5. Diets don’t set us up for success

The only way to achieve long-term results and live the happy and healthy life you’re dreaming of is to develop a healthy relationship with food, with your body, and with exercise. Diets don’t teach us healthy eating habits. They teach us restrictive eating. And those two are NOT the same thing!

So, if diets are so bad, and it’s time to quit dieting for good, what’s the answer?

The real answer to long-term health and weight loss

Here’s a radical idea: Instead of treating your body with disdain, disgust, and disrespect, why not try treat your body like you would a loved one? With kindness, compassion, and respect!

The only way to reach your goals and feel truly happy and fulfilled with your body is to treat it with the care it deserves. That means truly trying to understand yourself and your self-worth, your body’s needs, and your goals. It also means loving yourself unconditionally and realising that you are worthy of love and respect, no matter how you look in the mirror. This can be harder than it sounds, as most of us have struggled with years of misinformation around dieting, warped ideas of health and weight, and compounded unhealthy beliefs and habits that are almost impossible to break out of without the right help.

As a challenging year is closing upon us, for many people 2020 has been a great time to reflect upon our prioroties, and to treasure those things in life that truly matter.  That’s where nutritional psychology comes in. Where diets fail to address the deeper, underlying reasons for your struggle with weight or your overall health, nutritional psychology digs deeply into your conscious and subconscious relationships with your self-worth, your body-image, food and exercise, to help you discover new, healthier, and more sustainable self-care habits.

For more information on nutritional psychology and why diets aren’t the answer, read our recent blog post, or visit our nutritional psychology page. And once you’re ready to quit dieting for good, and finally reach your goals for self-care, health, weight, and fitness, get in touch and come to visit us at Integrated Health Specialists.  

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen