Dieting Doesn’t Work and I Know Why!

Diets work, but dieting doesn’t!

It’s simple to understand the difference between the two, and why diets work but dieting doesn’t.

Diet is a noun.

It means: the kinds of food that a person, animal, community or culture habitually eats. For example, “a vegetarian diet.”

Diet is a verb (to diet, dieting)

It means: restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.

I think that’s really all the explanation I need to give to explain why diets work, but dieting doesn’t.

When our diet consists of foods that taste good, satisfy us, nourish us and (most of the time) take in just a few less calories than our bodies burn we can achieve a healthy weight. When we achieve the healthy weight we can increase our calories slightly to (most of the time) be about the same as we’re burning and we can maintain a healthy weight. If we try to manage our weight by dieting, we are restricting our food and eating special food in order to lose weight. Special food people eat when they’re dieting may not really be very special at all and better described as awful.
If we have been eating a diet that has created an calorie overload, our bodies cleverly convert the calories it didn’t need to fuel into body fat.
It’s a wonderful thing that our bodies have the ability to do that! In ancient times it helped us live through times of famine when food was scarce. Even in modern times body fat may save a life–research has shown, for example, that bigger people fare better during chemotherapy treatment than smaller people do.

The problem with many of our modern diets is they’re not balanced.

They’re not balanced nutritionally and they’re not balanced calorie-wise, so we gain weight. It we try to diet to lose weight, we still are not addressing the problem of an unbalanced diet. We use temporary measures of food restriction and eating special foods to get our weight lower.

We may or may not reach our goal this way, and at some point we get tired of dieting and resume our former unbalanced diet.

The weight comes back – most of it, all of it, MORE of it (maybe as protection against the next famine because our body has no clue we willfully restricted its food. It just thought there was less (tasty) food available for us to eat!)
If you look at this woman and see somebody with no willpower who should feel ashamed of herself, you are not seeing what I see. I see an intensely determined woman who is trying to get fit and whose enormous willpower is only serving to set her further away from her weight and health-related goals. She needs to stop dieting and simply adjust her diet.

If you look at this woman and see somebody with no willpower who should feel ashamed of herself, you are not seeing what I see. I see an intensely determined woman who is trying to get fit and whose willpower is only serving to set her further away from her weight and health-related goals. She needs to stop dieting and simply adjust her diet.

Many people will attest that dieting, and not a lack of willpower, is the root cause of their obesity. I find it highly insulting and ignorant when anybody tries to say that “obesity is simply a lack of determination and willpower.”

Fighting "stubborn belly fat" by dieting often leaves you with more stubborn belly fat than you before you began dieting.

Fighting “stubborn belly fat” by dieting often leaves you with more stubborn belly fat than you had before you began dieting.

What is a diet that works to achieve and sustain a healthy weight?

It must be:

  • Nutritionally balanced (provide in adequate amounts all the macronutrients and micronutrients your body requires for good health.
  • It must be satisfying in volume and flavor.
  • It’s habitual, or in other words, it’s easy to do without thinking about it.
  • It allows some indulgences. It’s based on progress, not perfection.
  • Its calories are balanced (or slightly less than – depending on whether you want to lose or maintain) with your bodies fuel needs to stay alive and physical activities.

 

Adjusting to a healthful diet may be challenging at first.

Each of us has been conditioned to eat a certain way and choose certain foods. We may also be conditioned to ignore our body’s signals of satiety, eat for reasons other than homeopathic hunger, and be used to a diet of foods processed with a lot of added fats and sugars.

In addition to the physical conditioning that guides our eating habits, we may also have mentally conditioned ourselves to believe we cannot adhere to a healthier diet because we are victims of our environments. There are simply too many influences all around us all the time forcing us to make poor food choices and/or eat when we’re not hungry.

If the challenges are more than you can handle there is help!

There are also programs that combine a healthful food plan and behavioral modification that can be very effective in helping you establish your new diet. The Weight Watchers program and meetings help members find their personal and healthy diets. The program framework allows individuals to make their own choices of nutritious food that appeals to their preferences and in both flavor and volume.

Meetings provide accountability but, that’s less important than the insight and support members receive. The meetings are an environment of group support that is highly effective in helping members make positive changes in the way they think and subsequently the actions they make. Best of all, Weight Watchers doesn’t encourage members to diet. Weight Watchers teaches members how to eat a healthful diet!

Of course, nobody needs to pay to learn how to revise their weight-gaining diet into a weight management diet. If you’re not having success, however, doing it on your own, it does make sense to get help.

If you’re going to pay to get help, be sure that you select a program that conforms to The Weight Loss Consumer’s Bill of Rights.

If you have been dieting to lose weight, stop now!

 

Green, leafy vegetables are a staple in a healthful diet. They are full of vitamins and minerals (antioxidants that protect your body against cell damage) and they add a lot of volume to your diet for few calories. Using an olive oil based salad dressing is a good way to boost the nutritional value of your salad and more satisfying and much better for you than fat-free salad dressing!

Green, leafy vegetables are a staple in a healthful diet. They are full of vitamins and minerals (antioxidants that protect your body against cell damage) and they add a lot of volume to your diet for few calories. Using an olive oil based salad dressing is a good way to boost the nutritional value of your salad and more satisfying and much better for you than fat-free salad dressing!

Manage your weight with your diet and finally find satisfaction and success!

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.