Why Diets Don’t Work

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Why Diets Don’t Work

“I’m on a diet,” somebody will say. You know from that point on, until that somebody stops the diet, all they’ll talk about is food and how well (or not so well) the diet’s progressing.  And if they’re not talking about it you know very well that all they’re thinking about is their diet – and how much they weigh.  This is one of the many reasons why diets don’t work.

As Dr Christopher Fairburn writes in his book Overcoming Binge Eating, ‘An important psychological effect is that the dieter becomes preoccupied with food and eating.  Some people find themselves totally preoccupied with the very subject they are trying to avoid, unable to think about anything but food and eating.’

When people go on diets, they either cut out certain foods or restrict the food they eat. Diets don’t usually teach you to eat differently – they’re a temporary and quick measure to lose weight.

Diets usually work in the short term, they don’t in the longer term. This is because people go back to eating what they used to eat.  And – because they have restricted the number of calories they consume, their metabolism slows down to handle the reduced calorie intake. This means you burn fewer calories because of the slower metabolism, and the diet becomes less effective.  So people who come off their diet usually tend to put on more weight – what a vicious cycle!

Diets don’t teach new eating habits so that weight can be maintained at the weight that’s right for that particular person.  Diets are all about deprivation and the more you are deprived or told not to want (or in this eat) something, the more you want it!!  The diet is all about what you can and can’t eat ie out (totally) carbohydrates or only eat vegetables and soups for 3 weeks.  Would you want to do this for the rest of your life?  No I didn’t think you would!

I’m not a great lover of exercise – although I do enjoy walking and cycling but this is another part of the equation to help maintain or lose weight:

You need some exercise.

You need to work out what exercise you enjoy and how it can be fitted into your lifestyle. I tried going to the work’s gym first thing in the morning for a few years – which was great as I felt really good after exercising (never before!) – but because it cut into my working hours I couldn’t maintain this type of routine. This made me feel guilty as I had to stop and it was quite hard thinking about fitting in some other type of exercise in my busy lifestyle.  In the end I decided not to beat myself up as I did a lot of walking to catch public transport and also I usually went out at weekends walking in the countryside.  So think about something that fits into your lifestyle and which you enjoy.

So there you have it. Diets don’t work for several reasons. It’s all about eating sensibly and enjoying the food you like without eating too much. It’s also about exercising but the exercise you like and not somebody else’s exercise regime. It’s all about working with yourself rather than others telling you how to eat and live your life.

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