Forty five per cent! This is the number of women I surveyed who said they would still continue to diet despite research concluding that 95% of all dieters regain the weight lost within two to five years. Australia’s peak funding body for medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has been delivering this advice since 2013: diet’s don’t work in the long-term.
Furthermore, one-third of those people gain even more and end up heavier than when they first started dieting. So, if diet’s don’t work, why are women wedded to them?
Diets don’t work
Ladies, if your doctor told you that she was going to prescribe you a weight loss medicine that worked for Angela, but that she was legally required to say that Angela’s results weren’t typical, that you probably wouldn’t experience Angela’s results, and then told you that it was more likely to leave you less healthy than more healthy, would you take it?
If Viagra failed 95% of the time would we blame guys for not trying hard enough or would we say that the medicine didn’t work?
So, why are women still dieting if diet’s don’t work?
From what I can see in my practice it’s because they’re desperate to attain a particular body type or magic number on the scale, and they still believe dieting or some type of restriction is the only way to get it.
Furthermore, they want that body yesterday. Quick-fix promises to drop 5kg in 14 days, lures them in. However, this is a potentially dangerous and often unhealthy dead end loop.
Moreover, despite the evidence that is recognised by the NHMRC, many people simply do not want to accept diets don’t work long term.
There’s a real grieving process when people are shown the facts. There’s a deep grieving of the ‘thin me’ dream. There’s grief over the time, energy and money lost to dieting. Furthermore, there’s the story many women have told themselves about the person they would become after they lose weight.
Thanks to our diet culture “being healthy” means depriving yourself of the foods you want, taking a no-pain-no-gain approach to physical activity, and keeping a close watch on the scale. We don’t see this lifestyle as problematic.
Most people are wedded to these ideas – it’s the norm. However, just because it’s the norm doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I’ve learned that for me and my clients, trying to follow diet cultures rules does far more harm than good.
What I’ve learnt from years of (failed) dieting
I’ve found that the best guide when it comes to eating isn’t an outside source; it’s connection with my own body and her hunger, satisfaction, needs, and desires. An inborn wisdom that we’re all born with but we unfortunately lose that when we start dieting and following rules from a book.
I’ve learned how to guide myself and other people to break down internalised diet and weight loss beliefs and explore for themselves what foods they find satisfying and sustaining, so they find their balanced weight.
The aim of this is to normalise your relationship with food and find your balanced weight AND keep it. Diet’s don’t work – they give you the OPPOSITE – A disordred relationship with food and yo-yo weight cycling.
Want help getting out of diet autopilot? My program Stop Punishing Start Nourishing helps women give up dieting, without losing control with food, so they can have a body and life they love.