April 11, 2023

Why Diets Don’t Work and What You Can Do Instead

Intuitive Eating

Why diets don’t work, let’s get into it. Dieting is a 61-billion-dollar industry that has over one-third of Americans on a specific diet at any given time.

Whether it’s Noom, Weight Watchers, or the keto diet, diets come in all shapes and sizes and usually revolve around quick fixes and weight loss to fuel results.

So with this many people engaging in them and the huge amount of money poured into dieting, you’d assume they would work… right?

Actually, wrong! Research has estimated that over 95% of diets fail. That means it doesn’t matter which one you pick and decide to do, 9.5/10 times that diet is going to fail you.

If a medication only worked 5% of the time, would you try it? Probably not.

But yet as consumers in a body-obsessed world, we constantly reach back and get caught in this dieting cycle. We know they don’t work, yet we assume we will be the one it works for.

In today’s article, I will be giving you my perspective on dieting as a non-diet and food-freedom dietitian.

Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of dieting and what you can do instead, that does work!

Why Diets Don’t Work

Let’s get into why diets don’t work. Have you been here before, trying a new fad diet and being frustrated that you aren’t seeing the results you hoped for or were promised?

If I want anything to hit home it is this- it is not you that failed, it is the diet.

Dieting made you more preoccupied with food. Dieting slowed your metabolism. Dieting made you want to be a smaller size. Dieting makes you feel guilty when you aren’t eating “diet foods”.

Since the premise of most diets involves restricting foods and calories, it is basically a form of short-term starvation.

What happens when you starve yourself and then finally get access to food- you get desperate. You overeat, overindulge, and eat until you are past uncomfortable.

Then you feel guilty about it, and the restriction cycle repeats. But this goes against everything we know about our bodies’ biology.

Out-of-control eating is a normal reaction to starvation and dieting. It doesn’t mean you lack “willpower”, your body just doesn’t work that way. It needs fuel and will do what it has to to get it.

When you are underfed, you will obsess over food. This is the reason dieting and food restrictions don’t work. And never will- because you can’t fight biology.

Your cells don’t know that you are starving yourself voluntarily, right? They just notice the lack of food, calories, and energy.

The Dangers of Dieting

Why diets don't work

Not only does dieting not work, but it can be dangerous for your health. It can be the root of many health problems, both mentally and physically.

Here are a few dangers of dieting that can happen:

  • Weight gain. Studies show that people who diet actually gain more weight than they originally started out with. Even if there is an initial weight loss, the rebound weight gain is generally more.
  • Increased risk of developing an eating disorder. Many eating disorders start out as disordered eating thoughts and restrictive or binge cycles. Fad dieting can turn into an eating disorder if the cycle continues.
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety. Science shows us that people who diet are generally more depressed and anxious. This can start to affect your daily life including work, relationships, and more.
  • Nutrient deficiencies. Chronic dieting and food restrictions can lead your body depleted of nutrients that it needs to function properly.
  • Poor digestion and gut health. Binge and restriction cycles can cause unwanted gut symptoms like bloating, indigestion, and more.

What Does Work: Intuitive Eating!

After reading this far, you now know some of the dangers of dieting and why diets don’t work. So your next thought may be, well, what does work?

The good news for you is there is a style of eating that you can introduce into your life that will support you and your body. It is called Intuitive Eating!

Intuitive Eating is a revolutionary approach that focuses on tuning into your body and developing a healthy relationship with food.

It is a program that is guided by 10 key principles which involve rejecting the dieting mentality, honoring your hunger cues, and respecting your body the way it is.

If you want to learn more about my favorite resources for learning more about intuitive eating, check out this blog post!

The Takeaway from a Non-Diet Dietitian

Why diets don't work with a non-diet dietitian

Remember: you did not fail the diet, the diet failed you.

Dieting has shown us time and time again that it doesn’t work and does more harm to your body than good. You have the opportunity to break the cycle! You do not have to be a victim of dieting any longer.

If this feels really far out of reach for you right now, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Breaking the chains of dieting and any pre-conceived notions and food rules will not be an overnight process.

If you want a helping hand to guide you throughout the process, that is where a non-diet dietitian like myself comes in! Here at Tap Into Nutrition, we work with clients to break free from chronic dieting, make peace with their bodies, and learn how to use food in a supportive way.

Head over to my services page to learn more about my 1:1 nutrition counseling and Intuitive Eating support group!

  1. Carol Ann Steele says:

    Struggling to read the light font on your website.

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I utilize a non-diet, weight inclusive, and Health at Every Size approach to empower my clients to break-free from chronic dieting!

I'm Sam!


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