Fed up with dieting? Here’s why diets fail, and what to do instead…
You can’t even begin to work on revamping your New Year’s resolutions if you haven’t had a look at what’s NOT working.
If you’d like to set some solid goals this year, but you have no idea where to begin, you’re going to want to give this a read. And if you’ve ever set a goal of losing weight in the new year (seriously, who hasn’t?), then starting yet another diet, should be on top of that list. But, how many times can we ‘start again, or ‘get back on track’ in the New Year, ’right?
So, why is it that we continue to fail with diets, but yet we keep repeating the same patterns over and over?
Usually it’s because diet culture can be sneaky, and seductive! Much of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re starting a new diet. That’s because a lot of the marketing used to promote ‘healthy living’, can tend to trick us into thinking that you’re making a balanced, healthy lifestyle choice — which unfortunately isn’t the case if it’s set up around any of the dieting principles. f you no longer want to fall for the diet tricks, then you definitely have to know what’s considered a “diet” (in the most slang, everyday-sense of the word).
Which is why we’re breaking down the Top 5 Reasons Why Diets Fail, and what you can do instead. This way you’ll be able to get super clear on if you’re participating in diet behaviour, AND you’ll be able to take some steps forward, instead of repeating the same patterns this year.
Reason #1: Diets mess with your natural hunger, fullness and satisfaction cues.
Most diets are set up around some form of number tracking. Whether it’s counting calories, tracking your macros, or playing any other form of numbers game, you’re bound to find yourself becoming more and more disconnected from your body.
When you’re constantly focusing on calories in vs. calories out you’ll likely do whatever it takes to stay within your daily allotted numbers. And when your body starts to talk to you with a grumbling belly… you quickly tune it out, and call it willpower. Or maybe for the sake of ‘bulking’, you force yourself to scarf down another 5oz chicken breast, even though you feel like you’re going to be sick.
What to do instead: Start to pay attention to what you’re body is trying to tell you. When you you begin to gravitate towards food, first stop and pause. Ask yourself, ‘on a scale of 1-10, how hungry am I?’ (1 being ravenous, and 10 being so full you feel like you could be sick). Ideally you want to be somewhere in the middle. Hungry, but not to the point where you’d eat anything and everything. This will be tricky at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Reason #2: Diets keep you stuck in guilt & restriction.
Have you ever eaten something, and then beaten yourself up about it for days? That’s food guilt at it’s finest. When we’re set-up to follow a rigid list of food rules, we’re bound to slip up from time to time. But it’s called being human! When you eat foods that have been labelled as forbidden, you can’t simply just eat it and move on with your day. Instead you beat yourself up for ‘caving’, and likely restrict yourself even more which just continues to feed this pattern.
What to do instead: Be gentle. Remember that we are only human, and we’re bound to slip up from time to time. Instead of beating yourself up over what you did wrong, try focusing on things you did right! Also important, is knowing that mindful indulgence isn’t a slip-up! We’re allowed to enjoy our food, even treats, especially if we’re choosing them with purpose — and sometimes the purpose is enjoyment! Practicing kindness, and learning how to be patient with yourself while you figure out what works and doesn’t work for your individual body, is going to go so much further than punishment ever will.
Reason #3: Diets isolate you from enjoying yourself with your loved ones.
Have you ever skipped out on a social event just because you wanted to ‘stay on track’? Or maybe you went out to eat with some friends and ordered a kale salad when you really wanted a pizza? While food avoidance might seem like a good idea in the beginning, (you know- for the good of the diet) this can quickly escalate into a MUCH bigger problem. Why? Because it creates a whole lot of fear around remaining ‘in-control’ of your food habits. Which can bring you right back to reason #2.
What to do instead: Focus on the experience. Instead of declining a social invitation, (all because you’re worried about what to eat), focus on what you can look forward to instead. Maybe you get to catch up with an old friend, or watch your nephew take his first step! Don’t make it all about the food. Make it about the people, the memories, deep conversations, and the entire experience as a whole.
Reason #4: Diets are built around following the perfect rule book.
Cut out meat, dairy, grains and sugar. Eat all organic. Don’t eat carbs past 4pm. Eat loads of veggies, just not starchy veg because it will count as your carbohydrates. Eat nuts, but not too many, it’s good fat… but it’s still fat! Eat high carb, low fat. Follow the paleo diet, no scratch that… go vegan! Anyone else overwhelmed?!?
Any diet is going to have a rule book waiting for you to follow. Which usually tells you to eat ABC, and eliminate XYZ. It seems simple enough, but it’s not at all. We’re all built up so differently and what might work for some, might not work for others. Our bodies are unique, so it’s important that we find out what works specifically for US.
What to do instead: Tear up the rulebook. Instead of listening to every diet trend, or fad, try doing some self-exploration. Listen to your own body, and lean in to what feels good for you. Pay attention to how you feel after a meal. If it makes you feel good, keep it! If it doesn’t, ditch it! The more you tune in and listen to your own intuition the sooner you’ll create an arsenal of food choices that work with your body to thrive, not just survive.
Reason #5: Diets damage your relationship with food.
When you’re constantly on and off a diet, you’ll soon begin to struggle to understand what it means to approach food in a natural intuitive way. You become consumed with labelling food as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or food becomes an obsession within itself. It’s all you can think about. From the minute you wake up, to the second you go to bed. It’s all about what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and waiting for your next allotted meal time to come around. When your entire world revolves around food that’s a sure way to know that you’ve hit diet rock bottom.
What to do instead: Trust your body! Your body is so incredibly smart. Instead of labelling food, try asking your body how it wants to feel. If you want to feel energized, nourished, healthy, strong, and satisfied… give yourself foods that make you feel that way. When you listen and pay attention to how you feel after a meal, this will soon help you to work with your body, vs. fight against it, which means you will no longer feel at war with food.
As you can see, diets really are just a bandaid solution. And even though you have the best intentions of losing weight, or improving your health…the truth is, many times diets cause us more harm than good.
Are you done with diets? We would love to know what diets you’ve tried in a past, and why you think they’ve failed you. Share your experience in the comments below!
Ready to try out a totally new approach? Check out our Holistic Weight Loss program, kicking off this Spring!