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Why Diets Don't Work

As we all know, the number one New Year’s resolution around the world is “I am going to lose weight.” 

Before you choose the trending fad diet and spend a fortune on all the products you need for this coming new year, we thought we would write about why diets don’t work and give you a few tried and tested ideas of what will work.  

The word diet means “the customary food and drink of a culture, a person, or an animal.”

However, for many of us, the word diet does not mean that. It means temporary and highly restrictive program of eating in order to lose weight.” 

It’s this idea of temporary restrictive eating that we will be tackling today. 

Research shows that 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it within 1-5 years, and there are a few reasons for this. 

  1. Many of us think that diets are a temporary plan, however, when we have “completed” our diet, we simply boomerang back to unhealthy eating patterns.
  2. Deprivation of restrictive diets may lead to a diet-overeat or diet-binge cycle. This is unhelpful when our bodies require good regulation. 
  3. Our body responds to overly-restrictive dieting by slowing our metabolism down, which makes it much harder for us to lose weight.
  4. Restricting certain foods may lead to a lack of essential nutrients.
  5. Often the root of dieting is feeling a lack of value or self-esteem. 
  6. Social norms and traditions can change over time. 

The Temporary Plan 

The word diet is often used in conjunction with the idea of our goal weight. This leaves us with a mindset kind of like this one, “when I reach my goal weight; I don’t need to follow this restrictive eating plan anymore.” 

Slowly these unhealthy habits that made us overweight in the first place creep back into our systems. This causes us to pick up weight as well as leaving us with unhelpful feelings of failure. It is at this point that we are usually determined to feel better and so we start the next fad diet, leading us into a yo-yo diet mindset which puts strain on our bodies. 

Diet-Binge Cycle

When we are on a restrictive diet we can become so focused on the “bad food” or food we are not allowed. This may lead us to “breaking” our diet or “cheating”. 

This “cheating” is often followed by feelings of failure, shame, and guilt. This may cause us to binge even more:

  1. As we have already broken our diet, so we might as well pig out just that little bit more.
  2. Or we feel so bad that we start to use food as our comfort at that moment. 

This then leaves us feeling even more ashamed, self-loathing, and unworthy.

If we believe that we are unworthy and have failed, subconsciously we may believe that losing weight will give us value and worth. 

The Motive For The Diet 

Let me start this paragraph by saying you are incredibly valuable!

No diet, look, lifestyle can change your value! However, media and worldviews have made many of us feel that we will only be valuable if we are thin or look a certain way. 

We end up chasing after an unattainable goal and further compounding a lie that we are unworthy.  

Your weight does not give you worth or value. You are amazing, you have been created with a purpose and future and the world desperately needs you. We need your unique way of thinking, your creativity, your love, and your perspective. A number on a scale will don’t change that. 

May I encourage you to ask yourself why do you want to lose weight? 

For health reasons, energy reasons, for you to feel better? These are really great reasons but if you want to lose weight in order to try and fit a picture or goal weight, you may end up struggling.

The world doesn’t need you thin; it needs you vibrant, full of energy, and full of rich vitality to be who you are! 

Slowing Your Metabolism 

When food intake is reduced, our bodies respond as if they are in famine or in a starvation situation. It is a survival instinct, the body can adjust its metabolism or the amount of energy it uses in order to maintain bodily functions. 

Although it is very difficult to increase the body’s metabolism (increase the rate we burn energy), the body attempts to protect itself against famine by reducing the metabolic rate, this makes it incredibly difficult to lose weight. 

Lack Of Nutrients

Diets are often associated with certain diet foods. Many of these diet foods have been stripped of their nutrition or they have a huge amount of sugars and rubbish added to make them taste like something. Check the labels before you buy or eat certain foods, don’t just believe the advertising on the box. 

The next problem is that many diets cut out whole food groups, which means that we might not get the nutrition our bodies require.

Social Norms And Traditions 

Food is often associated with many social occasions and family gatherings. Many of us have strong traditions and celebrations that happen around food. 

These family or cultural celebrations can be very hard when we are on fad diets. This can lead to family conflict and a lack of support from the family.  

It can also lead to us unnecessarily avoiding social situations and family mealtimes, leading to feelings of isolation, unworthiness, and even loneliness.   

If Fad Diets Are Not The Solution Then What Is? 

I am sure you have heard it before, it is nothing new, it is no sales gimmick or pill……..

Drum roll please:

  1. It is a lifestyle and not just a quick fix. 
  2. We need to take ownership of intuitive eating
  3. We need to make sure we eat whole foods.


Understanding that we are on a journey around our health, and not just a goal weight, gives us the room to play and learn about what our bodies need.  We may not always get it right and that’s ok, we are in it for the long run. We will always be learning about what our bodies need in different stages. If our focus is a diet and we choose to eat according to a set of rules, we may underfeed ourselves or withhold vital nutrients from our bodies that we need to cope with in a stage of life. 

Before you start dieting, ask yourself, what is your motive?

If it is health, energy, and vitality that you are after, you are already halfway there. Eating healthy will be a lifestyle choice, not a quick fix to hit a goal weight. 

Intuitive Eating

“Intuitive Eating,” is about learning to trust and listen to your body, and then planning to nourish it appropriately. This does take some time, but your body was created to send you signals and to tell you what it needs. 

YOUnique life has a wonderful program that will help you tap into this way of living.

Eating Whole Foods

What we really mean when we say ‘whole foods’  is REAL food.

Most diets have a few things in common:

  1. Stop eating sugar.
  2. Stop eating processed foods. 
  3. Eat whole foods.

A few questions to ask yourself at any meal:

  • Could I make this meal a little healthier? 
  • How stressed am I?
  • How do I feel after eating certain foods?

We would love to hear some feedback from you. If you have explored the things we have been speaking about in this article, please tell us your story! You can also email us, or leave a comment below.  


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