Updated: Nov 26, 2020
8 reasons why diets do not work: spoken by a dietitian
by, Taryn McPherson
As a dietitian, I get asked a lot of questions about the latest diets.
“What do you think of keto?”
“Should I do intermittent fasting?”
“Weight watchers is good, right?”
My answer is pretty much the same, no matter what the diet du jour happens to be. I do not advocate any diets. If we can reconnect to our body and its knowledge, it will let us know what and how much to eat.
EIGHT reasons why diets DO NOT work:
1. 95-98% of people who diet will regain the weight they lost, and possibly more.
2. Almost every single person who has ever dieted has had that diet fail them.
3. Dieting is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder.
4. Dieting damages our relationship to food and our body by creating morality, such as “good” and “bad” food around food.
5. Restriction of any food increases our thoughts and desires for that food. This is not because of a lack of willpower, but because that’s how the human brain works.
6. It also increases confusion around nutrition science by continually changing. Is fat bad? Or carbohydrates? Never eat egg yolks! Ok, now eat egg yolks. If you listed every diet rule, you would probably start to feel like there weren’t any foods that were acceptable to eat.
7. But the biggest, most successful lie that diets sell us is that we can control our body size.
8. Your mood changes and diets create rigidity. Your friends get frustrated; is merely NOT FUN!
The truth is that all food provides our body with nourishment. Yes, even that food you just thought about. True nutrition is about balance and variety of all foods. That balance comes from having freedom with food, which is impossible when we continuously maintain a list of “good” and “bad” foods.
Most people would never believe that they could manipulate and control their height or shoe size, but diet culture has sold us all the idea that somehow our weight is different than everything else.
I know that reading that may bring up some resistance and that’s understandable. That lie that we as a society are sold is wrapped up in the messaging that our bodies are not worthy in their current form, and it can feel scary and impossible to believe the opposite - that our bodies are inherently worthy. Our bodies have the primary goal of keeping us alive. Each body will work to accomplish that in its own way. When we deny our body food, our certain nutrients, we cannot dictate how the body will react to that, and each time we engage in that kind of behavior, that body may respond differently.
Our bodies are deserving of kindness, acceptance, and care precisely as they are in this moment for the simple reason that we are all living beings.
Be kind to yourself, you deserve it.