Why Diets Don't Work

Do you REALLY know why diets don’t work?

Registered Dietitian Johanna Dibble talks about the biological reasons behind why diets fail, and how to work with your biology to create the changes you want to see.


Why diets don't work:

Have you ever embarked on a new diet only to find that you weren't able to stick with it? And maybe the results of your dieting efforts did not meet your expectations? You are not alone! Why is it that this seems to be a the trend with any diet we may start? Well the simple answer is: diet's don't work! The majority of fad diets out there will restrict certain foods or behaviors setting us up to feel deprived and eventually crave the restricted food or behavior even more than we did in the first place.

The never ending cycle of yo-yo dieting:

1. Start a new diet

2. Feel hopeful and excited about the possibility for results and change

3. Maybe we start to see some results after a few weeks

4. Eventually the restrictions become too much and we cave into our cravings leaving us with low self esteem and feelings of failure

5. Start a new diet in hopes of a different result.

Sound familiar?

Restrictions won't create lasting results:

Think about the times when you were a teenager and your parents told you what to do. What was the first feeling that would come up? An urge to rebel! Well unfortunately this urge is not something that we grow out of. Rebellion is an act of self preservation and protection and it is something most of us cannot simply ignore. In addition to restrictive meal plans making us prone to rebellion, our bodies are still innately equipped to survive famines through lowering our energy requirements and triggering our eating drive, making diets even more challenging on a biological level. Low calorie diets double the enzymes that make and store fat in the body as well as decrease our metabolism. This puts our bodies in a state that is more efficient at utilizing calories by lowering the body's need for energy. Eating too few calories can really work against you. So if this is the case, how do we make positive changes and reach our fitness and nutrition goals?

Creating lifestyle changes that are sustainable for a lifetime:

Instead of completely restricting certain food items, try and incorporate them into your life in moderation. If a food is not off limits it will likely be easier to eat a small amount and then stop because you know that you will be able to have it again. You probably won't have such an intense craving for this type of food if it is not forbidden.

Listen to your body:

If you are hungry then you should eat! Food is here to nourish our bodies and give us the fuel we need to do amazing things. Many times dieters who have started an exercise program feel frustrated that they are hungrier during the day, but this is a good sign! You have worked hard and your body is in need of fuel. Sometimes we get too caught up in eating schedules and when the "right" time to eat is.

This can also go the other way. If it is a planned meal time and you are not hungry, why not wait to eat until you start to feel hunger cues? This might be a very difficult habit to form as many chronic dieters lose touch with their bodies natural hunger cues and begin to just go through the motions. Being mindful and noticing how your body really feels can retrain your brain to know what it needs and when. This is especially helpful when we are experiencing cravings for foods when we aren't really hungry. It helps to take a step back and ask : Are you wanting to eat to avoid something else? Maybe you are avoiding a certain task that needs to be completed or an unpleasant feeling? Will eating this snack help with the thing you are avoiding? Probably not.

Create a positive relationship with food:

Food should not be the enemy. Food is social, emotional, and cultural. It should be a joyful part of our daily lives. If you want to reject dieting for good and create sustainable changes that leave you feeling your best set up an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians today!