10 Reasons Diets Don't Work

In an earlier post, I wrote about how I lost weight last year. I am not a weight loss expert by any means. However, what's remarkable about my weight loss is my inability to actually diet i.e. feeling starved and deprived does not bode well for my mental health. After all, I am a foodie at heart. I am also not a junk food eater but I might be deluding myself.

Bread, pasta, grains and other high carb processed foods are no longer part of my diet. Goodbye pita bread, seedy bread, pizza, pho, and spaghetti! Ok, the Vietnamese in me occasionally breaks down and convinces my husband to go out and have a bowl of pho with me.

However, over the last couple of weeks, I have gained 1-3 pounds which isn't all that much weight, but it has given me time to reflect on dietary habits. I understand my weight gain or loss is not interesting to anyone except myself but I made a remarkable discovery, diets simply don't work. Hehe.

The reason diets don't work is that unless you truly understand and adopt a new attitude about food, you risk falling back into old behavioral patterns surrounding food. Besides, the moment your life becomes stressful you'll just treat yourself to that pint of ice cream, pizza, spaghetti, or whatever you love and inch (or dash) closer to your favorite foods which might not be celery sticks with hummus.

Today I've compiled 10 reasons diets don't work and how to work around them so you can adopt a healthier lifestyle even if it is not at your ideal weight, but still within a healthy range for you.

  1. You think your dietary changes are only temporary.
    1. To lose weight permanently, you need to make lifestyle modifications. That means you need to change the way you think about food. Ultimately, food is fuel for your body. It gives you the energy you need to power you through the day so give your body clean fuel. It will function better. When you are young, your body can handle poor food choices, at least for most of us, but the older you get the less capable it will become at dealing with garbage food. And at some point, it won't be able to process the crap you are feeding it and you might get sick. Your food choices can make a difference in your life. Try eating clean. To eat clean, take the time to learn what makes your body feel healthy and energized, and eat that stuff at least 80% of the time. 
  2. You are full of guilt.
    1. Occasionally, you will feel guilty. The cause can vary. Sometimes guilt is brought on by indulging in treats followed by more poor food choices. Or, you may nurse guilt because you are doing something that no one else in your family is doing, i.e. daring to eat clean. The little voice in your mind might challenge you, "Who are you, to dare to do things differently?" or, "You've already done one naughty thing, you're useless, you have no self-control, you might as well give up now." However, you need to stop feeling guilty. You are in control of your life and deciding what goes into your mouth is up to you. It's very unlikely people are force feeding you, but if they are, then avoid those people. Don't let others or yourself sabotage your healthy eating plans especially early on in your weight loss journey (before your new dietary habits become ingrained and sometimes that can take up to a year).
  3. You want quick results.
    1. Who doesn't want results ASAP? We all love getting the stuff we want and need right away, but weight loss is a journey. It will take time to adjust your dietary habits to fit your lifestyle. With time and personal modifications, you will have new eating habits and the weight will fall off. The truth is that developing new dietary habits takes time, in my case, it often takes more than 30 days to make new habits part of my life and closer to a year if its going to become a new way of life.
  4. You think you can cheat occasionally.
    1. I cheat, occasionally. I have the aforementioned bowl of pho maybe every 3 to 6 months and sometimes I eat copious amounts of chocolate at a certain time of the month (and I won't say no to small slice of pizza), but I don't let that distract me from the way I eat normally nowadays. I either eat eggs, or almond butter and seeds for breakfast and dinner is almost always the same sort of thing: protein, veggies, cheese and avocado. Snacks are almost always the same. For variety, I add hummus, salsas, and different types of cheeses. So yes, you can cheat occasionally, and it's ok. Just so long as it's an occasional treat.
  5. Your ideal weight is hard to maintain.
    1. Genetics being what it is we are all predisposed to having a certain body type. If you are big boned you might carry more weight, c'est la vie. For me, I know that being a medium weight is comfortable for my body. I have yet to reach my ideal weight and while I am not in a hurry I do wonder if maintaining a lighter weight will be worth it. What do you think?
  6. Losing weight won't change the way you feel about your body.
    1. You need to love your body just the way it is right now. Whittling down to a size 0 won't make you love your body any more than you already do especially if you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Your body allows you to pretty much exist, at all. Think of it as your meat vehicle. It's what you've been given to go through this life. The better care you take care of it, the more mileage you might be able to get out of it.
  7. You can't eat out socially.
    1. If you are social and go out to eat often, you need to figure out what you can eat in restaurants well ahead of time. Check out menus online ahead of your visit and take the stress out of eating out. 
  8. You feel deprived and sad.
    1. To make your eating habits permanent you need to find the kind of foods you like the best and develop a simple system to allow you to eat those foods regularly with variations of flavor and tastes through minor modifications. In other words, you need to get creative to avoid feeling sad and deprived. If you love soda, drink sparkling or mineral water with flavorings like a splash of lemon or a dash of all-natural cranberry juice.
  9. You are not focused on your health.
    1. Ultimately, you want to get to a healthy weight so you can enjoy a happier more fulfilling life and that should be your number one motivator. Everything else are fringe benefits.
  10. You are too critical of yourself.
    1. You are human. Sometimes you will make mistakes. But if you keep trying one day you will find a system or strategy that will allow you to reach your health goals and stay healthy. 

What kind of healthy eating habits do you have and how did you adopt them? Did your parents instill healthy eating habits in you or did you have to learn healthy eating habits all by yourself? I would love to know.



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