In my pursuit to help people embrace a nonrestrictive and enjoyable way of eating, I frequently explain why diets don’t work. Recently, in my role as an in-store nutritionist at a supermarket, I wrote a newsletter, titled, ‘diets don’t work’.
As people collected the newsletter and sampled nutritious morsels I’d prepared, I received nods of agreement to the newsletter title. However, I began to realise that this agreement, in many cases, was not an acknowledgement that diets don’t work, but that many people feel defeated by their weight or dieting.
I had one woman say, ‘Of course diets don’t work, look at me. It’s pretty obvious’, as she pointed to her stomach. I had another lady email me to say, ‘I agree that diets don’t work, but I've recently come across one that does, have you heard of the xxxx diet. The author is a doctor, and I’m about to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes.’
Sadly, both women are still in diet mentality, believing that they can either control their bodies or that there is a perfect diet that they have yet to find.
To reply to the second lady’s email, I googled the diet she mentioned. At a glance, I found a list of foods she could and could not eat, and times of day she could eat them. Straight away I could see that it was a diet.
A diet not only restricts your energy intake but is any protocol of eating that comes with a set of rules. It is any eating plan, even those that declare to be a healthy lifestyle change, that promise to reset your metabolism or cure whatever ails you. Weight loss may not be implicit but frequently lurks in the long list of health benefits, reinforcing the belief that weight loss is healthy; when you can improve your health irrespective of weight.
I wish to impart this message: not only do weight loss diets not work, but any eating plan that restricts and controls your eating doesn’t either.
I share the physiological and psychological reasons why diets don’t work in my soon to be published book, Joyful Eating: How to break free of diets and make peace with your body, which I am excited to share with you later this year.