At this time of year, we're bombarded with messages about diets, fitness plans and weight loss. It's really easy to get caught up in the hype and start a new diet plan or gruelling workout regime, along with the rest of the nation. There's even a sense of camaraderie in it, as colleagues at work and friends in the gym talk about the latest diet book or workout craze and berate themselves for how much weight they've gained over the last few weeks.
But you know deep down, that next diet won't work long-term either.... don't you?
I know this sounds harsh, but my harshness is actually directed at an entire industry that dreams up the latest diet fad or points system and sells it to people. Profiting from making people like you, feel bad about their habits and bodies.
If you remember just one line of this entire blog post, I want it to be this one: you haven't failed at dieting, dieting has failed you.
Let me ask you, does this sound like you?
- You’ve been dieting since you were a teenager.
- You’ve lost and regained the same weight over and over again.
- You feel like all you do is think about food, eat food, track calories/macros/points/syns and then worry about food.
- You exercise because you feel like you ‘should’, but you don't enjoy it.
- You choose workouts based on how many calories they burn.
- You delay things in your life for when you reach a certain goal weight – relationships, career changes, even happiness!
- You’ve said the words “I’ll be happy once I reach [X]lbs”
- You’re fed up with all of this and want a permanent change.
- You’re beginning to realise that there must be something more to life than worrying about weight, food and calories. (You’re right – there is! So much more in fact and you’re missing it!)
Dieting doesn't work and is taking a huge toll on you psychologically, as well as physically.
Research shows that yo-yo dieting and weight cycling damages your metabolism, causes weight re-gain and increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation and loss of muscle (1-5). I bet these were all things you were trying to prevent in the first place, by dieting to lose weight, right?
Psychologically speaking, by dieting you’re much more likely to struggle with disordered eating, such as restriction, bingeing and even purging (which includes over-exercising with the intention of burning off excess calories) (6-9).
Let’s also talk about the financial cost of dieting. You probably pay a gym membership to encourage you to exercise. You may even pay slimming club fees to keep you accountable to your diet. You buy health magazines, vitamins, healthy snacks and new workout clothes. Have you added up how much it's costing you to fight against your body in a quest to meet society's ideal?
Even when you rationally *know* and understand all of this, it's likely that there's still a part of you that clings to the idea of finding 'the right diet' the one that will work this time. The idea of being able to change our bodies via dieting becomes somewhat of a safety blanket when living in a diet culture. But here's the thing:
You cannot make peace with food if you're still stuck in the dieting mentality.
While you're restricting or forbidding certain foods, you'll always experience cravings and the urge to overeat, perhaps even binge eat, which can be painful and lead to a cycle of self-hatred -> regret -> food restriction or purging -> binge. Which is why you need to break out of it now in order to move forward and recover from a lifetime of dieting.
I talk more about this in the less than 3 minute video below, and also share some action points for how you can begin to rebel against diet culture. Be sure to take notes - you can download a free copy of the Ditching Diets Workbook to do this.
- Bacon, Linda. Health at every size: The surprising truth about your weight.BenBella Books, 2010.
- Kern, Philip A., et al. “The effects of weight loss on the activity and expression of adipose-tissue lipoprotein lipase in very obese humans.” New England journal of medicine 322.15 (1990): 1053-1059.
- Leibel, Rudolph L., and Jules Hirsch. “Diminished energy requirements in reduced-obese patients.” Metabolism 33.2 (1984): 164-170.
- Fothergill, E., Guo, J., Howard, L., Kerns, J. C., Knuth, N. D., Brychta, R., Chen, K. Y., Skarulis, M. C., Walter, M., Walter, P. J. and Hall, K. D. (2016), Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition. Obesity, 24: 1612–1619. doi:10.1002/oby.21538
- Bennet, W and Gurin, J., The Dieter's Dilemma: The Setpoint Theory of Weight Control, Basic Books; Reprint edition (2 Aug. 1983)
- Keys, A., Brožek, J., Henschel, A., Mickelsen, O., & Taylor, H. L., The Biology of Human Starvation (2 volumes), University of Minnesota Press, 1950.
- Todd Tucker, The Great Starvation Experiment: The Heroic Men Who Starved so That Millions Could Live, Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York, ISBN 978-0-7432-7030-4, 2006.
- Leah M. Kalm and Richard D. Semba, "They Starved So That Others Be Better Fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment," Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 135, June 2005, 1347–1352.
- Crabbe, Megan Jayne., Body Positive Power, Vermillion (2017)