We’ve all heard the saying, “Short-term pain for long-term gain.” Well, when it comes to dieting, the opposite seems to be true. Though our efforts often pay off in the short-term, most of us regain back all the weight we started with (and sometimes more) over the long run. So what is it about diets that don’t work?
- Diets (and their results) are temporary — A diet is, by nature, a temporary food plan. But a temporary change simply cannot produce long-term results.
- Our bodies react to deprivation by retaining fat — When we deprive our bodies of vital nutrients, we push them into “fat storage mode,” slowing down our metabolism. This is because our bodies are programmed to conserve calories when we restrict them.
- Restriction activates the diet-binge cycle — When we’re hungry and deprived, our bodies are programmed to look for the highest concentration of calories that require the least amount of energy to consume — and this often comes in the form of fatty, processed foods such as pizza and baked goods. When we eat these “bad” foods, we become consumed with negative feelings (or “fat guilt”) — which lead us to restrict ourselves once again. Thus goes the infamous “diet-binge” cycle.
- Diets promote an unhealthy relationship with food — The restrictive nature of diets tends to put us at war with food. Rather than a source of nourishment, we start to see it as the source of our problems. Positive, sustainable change is very difficult to attain under these terms.
To be successful with weight loss, it’s best to:
- Shed the “diet mindset” and opt for real, healthy, nourishing foods that you enjoy. Make sure to include lots of protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.
- Keep your meal plan fun and interesting by constantly trying new foods and mixing up your menu.
- Tame those sugar cravings with healthy versions of your favourite “junk foods.” Love chocolate? Try raw cacao nibs. Ice cream? Try frozen yogurt.
Have any other reasons why diets don’t work? Want to share your personal experience? Leave a comment below.