Over the past 50 years, the dieting industry has exploded into a $60 billion a year conglomerate. Every year there is a new fad diet out, one calling out carbs as the evil villain and another saying that low-fat everything is the way to go. No matter what diet is the next big thing, the truth is that “dieting” doesn’t really work. Here are some of the big reasons why you should avoid diet fads and what you can do instead.
Dieting is Temporary
By definition, dieting is considered a temporary solution. You start a diet for a few weeks or months to start losing weight with no intentions of making it permanent. Most people who start a diet are looking for a quick fix, eating "healthy" and then after a few weeks, go back to their old eating habits.
Diets Can Lead to Overeating
Most diets are a restriction of certain foods and calories. You're basically telling your body "you can't have this." Calorie deprivation and trying to trick your body out of eating foods can lead to overeating. Your body thinks you're starving it causing it to slow down your metabolism, making losing weight even more impossible.
80% of Dieters Gain Their Weight Back
If you manage to stay on track with the newest and greatest diet fad and lose weight, the unfortunate truth is that most people gain all of their weight back plus some in 1-5 years. Because diets are temporary as explained above, going back to old eating habits will logically lead to weight gain. Aside from medical issues and traumatic experiences, our eating habits are the primary cause for our weight gain in the first place.
Dieting Promotes Weight Gain
Not only do most dieters gain their weight back but people that take part in just one "dieting episode" are three times more likely to be a risk to become overweight. Dieting creates a preoccupation with food that can lead to binge eating, and eating when you're not hungry, causing an increase in food cravings each time you start a new diet.
Dieting Can Lead to Eating Disorders and Depression
According to eatingdisorder.org, dieting can bring on feelings of guilt and shame when it comes to food. Diets can create a vicious cycle of binge eating, periods of restricting, excessive exercise, and purging. These cycles of destructive eating habits and feelings of failure can often to lead to depression and long-term eating disorders.
Safe and Effective Alternative to Dieting
So at this point, it seems like there is no solution to losing weight and those that are overweight are destined to be stuck in the same cycle forever. The good news - this is not the case. While dieting doesn't work, a real lifestyle change has proven to be effective for losing weight and keeping it off. Eliminate the word "diet" from your vocab and start making long-term lifestyle changes with your everyday habits.
Here are some simple practices to start incorporating into your daily routine immediately to get you heading in the right direction:
Start keeping a log of everything you put into your body.
Practice portion control. This might take time to get the hang of.
Start cutting out processed foods and replacing them with fresh ingredients. This includes frozen meals and foods that come in a box. Again, cutting out all processed foods will take time.
Drink tons of water.
Give yourself a break. Focus on your progress and avoid the need for perfection.
For additional information on improving your eating habits, check out our nutrition articles.