Why Diets Fail

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Diets are temporary. Let that sink in. Diets are temporary. They are not going to last forever. Not the diet, and rarely the results. The reason the statistics are so startling is because of all the promises diets give you. They promise to change your life, to make you happier, to make you healthier. They promise fast results, but they rarely promise you a lifetime of those results.

Why? Because companies that sell diet programs, pills, coaching programs, shakes, and food know that the long-lasting results are extremely rare. 

Up to 95 percent of diets fail in the long term. It is hard for people to accept because they have spent their lives wanting that dream body, to reach their “goal weight” and achieve what they have been promised. 

You tell yourself that with enough willpower, enough endurance, and enough hard work, you can get there. As long as you stick to the plan, you will lose the weight and keep it off, and finally be happy. 

But what if you’re not? What if you lose the weight and it comes back? What if you are like most people who spend your entire life bouncing from one diet to another, and never really find something you can stick to long-term?

What if the reason for that is because all diets fail… eventually. What if that makes you normal. 

This chapter is going to cover the main reasons why diets fail, and why you are only setting yourself up for failure every time you jump back on a new diet bandwagon. And shows you the importance of switching to an intuitive eating lifestyle.

Diets are Not Meant for Long-Term Lifestyle Changes

According to countless studies, including the study performed at UCLA, the main reason dieting doesn’t work, is because it doesn’t last. This study found that while the participants lost 5-10 percent of their weight, the majority of them put it back on. 

Diets, at their core, are meant for short-term use only. Every diet out there “works” – until it doesn’t. Sure, you might lose weight, mostly water weight in the beginning. If you stick with it, you might even lose fat. But most people find their way back to their old ways. They begin not only eating the foods they were restricting but overeating and binge eating them. 

We will talk about this more in the next cycle, but this starts the inevitable binge-restrict cycle that people find so difficult to get out of. 

If you want a quick fix that will only last until you start eating normally again, then, by all means, keep dieting. But the sooner you realize it isn’t working out for you and that there is a better way to live your life, the better off you will be.

Restriction Leads to Binges Which Lead to More Restrictions

Another reason diets fail for most people is that they can trigger the binge-restriction cycle. This is when you restrict in one way or another during your diet, then reach a point where you can’t handle the restrictions, and suddenly “binge” on all the foods you were denying yourself.

It is no surprise that the foods you tend to binge on most often are the ones that you were not allowed to eat or the foods you had guilt overeating. Maybe you were calorie counting and allowed yourself to eat anything within your calories – that doesn’t mean you were mentally restricting. Telling yourself you shouldn’t be eating that ice cream because the fruit would be much fewer calories and dairy-free and have less sugar. 

This is the cycle you get into when you diet. Suddenly, food becomes nothing more than a number. You give it a moral value – good or bad. And eventually, most people will come back to those foods they were denying themselves, and more often than not, consume much more of them than they would have if they never restricted in the first place.

You Lose All Sense of Your Hunger and Fullness Cues

When you are on a diet, you are going based on numbers like calories and macros, meal timing, and the types of foods you are allowed to eat. What this does is keep you from actually gauging when you are hungry or full. You stop eating when the food you measured or weighed is done, not when you are full. Hungry between meals? Oh well. You have to wait until the next meal, since your diet dictates what and when to eat. 

This is one of many reasons why the hunger and fullness scale in the Intuitive Eating book is so helpful. It doesn’t need to become something you perfect – but more of a way to start re-learning your own body’s cues for how hungry you are, but also how full you are. 

Believe it or not, if you come from a history of dieting and restricting, you probably don’t even know how to tell when you are truly physically hungry, or how to stop eating when you’re full. You eat within your allowed macros, and that’s it. 

There is so much more to eating for health and for fuel. 

There are More Serious Risks

In addition to the main reasons diets fail for many people, the National Eating Disorders Association found that dieting is actually one of the biggest risk factors for getting an eating disorder. Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and the newly diagnosed binge eating disorder, can have dramatic and severe side effects on your health.

This is a very short list of the side effects people can experience from eating disorders:

  • Digestive issues
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Mental health issues

The list goes on and on. And yes, people have died from their eating disorders, because of the health consequences.

Also, remember that you don’t have to look emaciated to have an eating disorder. It comes in many forms, and people of all sizes can be suffering from an eating disorder.

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