If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, then you’re probably familiar with or have tried a number of diets. Growing up, I remember my mom going on the cabbage soup diet several times as well as the grapefruit diet and the “eat only bananas and milk one day, then only hot dogs the next day" diet. My personal favorite was the “chocolate milk for breakfast and lunch” diet.
Every diet promises weight loss and in many respects this is true. In fact, most diets have been backed up by people who have followed them and lost weight. Hey, I lost weight drinking chocolate milk! So in this regard, diets work.
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However, there are a couple of important things to consider about diets. First, while all diets will work for some people, not every diet will work for everyone and if you’ve ever failed on a diet (and felt like a failure), this may be why. Which is one reason you’ve tried so many right?
Second, and more importantly, diets may work when followed, but how you feel when you’re on the diet, what is actually going on metabolically inside your body, and what happens afterwards are the true tests of a diet’s success. With that said, here are three reasons why most diets do not work:
1. Diets mean deprivation. Naturally, when you think of losing weight, you think “diet”. And it takes some mental and emotional fortitude to actually commit to a diet because you have to brace yourself knowing that you’ll be hungry or unable to eat the foods you like.
Maybe you’ll even avoid social invitations because of a diet. So now what happens? You associate going on a diet and losing weight with deprivation in other areas of your life as well. You actually find yourself on a life diet. What are the chances of success? They’re very low.
And then after weeks or more of deprivation, what inevitably happens? When you “go off” the diet, you will naturally compensate for what you missed out on, potentially gaining back the weight and then some.
Most often, successful weight loss requires a healthy, sustainable eating plan that helps create a positive feedback loop. An eating plan that is enjoyable and makes you look and feel terrific while you lose weight will reinforce your efforts and allow you to form new habits and beliefs around food. As a result, you’ll feel motivated to consistently and permanently take better care of yourself.
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2. Diets are all about the food. How often do you reach for food as a source of comfort? Maybe you use it to deal with sadness, stress, boredom, or after a bad day. Emotional eating doesn’t solve emotional issues, it adds an additional layer of guilt or frustration, along with the excess, unnecessary calories. It is actually a form of punishment.
As Marianne Williamson says in her book, A Course in Weight Loss, “The weight you are seeking to let go of was added to your consciousness before it was added to your body…When the weight is gone from your consciousness, it will be gone from your physical appearance.”