Let me make this very, very clear: You did not fail the diet. The diet failed you.
The diet industry is big business, making billions of dollars a year. It’s probably the only industry where people continue to buy the product, despite a failure rate greater than 90% (cited as up to 98%).
Such a high failure rate is (oddly) profitable for diet companies. Why? If a diet worked the first time, you’d have no reason to go back and spend more money.
Many diets work for a short period of time. You lose weight, receive loads of compliments, feel great and believe that this diet (finally!) is successful.
However, for over 90% of people, the diet becomes unsustainable. The weight goes back on (usually with extra), the compliments stop (and you become panicked about what people think of you now), and you feel like a failure.
But why do you blame yourself, rather than blaming the diet?
Ah, the diet industry is a step ahead of you in that department. ‘It worked while you were doing it, didn’t it?’ they tell you, ‘It’s only when you lost your willpower that it stopped working, therefore it must be your fault.’
It has nothing to do with willpower. Your body can’t exist on X number of calories just because you (or Weight Watchers) decided it should. Other physiological, psychological, social, and financial factors also come in to play to influence how sustainable a diet is. (If you’re interested in reading the science behind why diets don’t work, I highly recommend Linda Bacon’s Health at Every Size book).
With more and more people realising that dieting is unhelpful, diets are being disguised as ‘lifestyle changes.’ They are being marketed with a focus on improving health, rather than as a pure weight loss tool. But they are still diets. They still involve someone (or something) else telling you what, when, or how much to eat. And that’s why they are so dangerous.
No one else knows you as well as what you do. No one else can account for the day to day fluctuations in the number of calories your body needs, nor can they consider all of your food likes and dislikes, social and financial situations, and psychological health.
When you assume someone (or something) else has the knowledge and power to definitively tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat, when, and how much, it’s always going to end in disaster.
Dieting has a massive failure rate; it increases the likelihood of becoming above your healthiest weight and it is the biggest risk factor for the development of an eating disorder. Not much fun, hey? So what’s the alternative?
I encourage you to explore intuitive/mindful eating. It allows you to adopt a way of eating that works for you, with consideration of physiological, psychological, social, and financial factors. It can often be helpful to have some guidance and support whilst exploring intuitive/mindful eating, however this is very different from being prescribed a diet.
The best thing about intuitive/mindful eating – there is no failure, no rules, no restriction, instead there are learning opportunities, freedom, and a chance to honour what you and your body really need and want.
If you would like to know more about mindful/intuitive eating, here’s a list of great resources:
- Dr Rick Kausman’s book, website, and Facebook page.
- These articles by Sarah and Fiona from Body Positive Australia:
– Foods Cues and You
– Food Restriction vs Restraint
– How Many Tim Tams is the Perfect Number?
– Confident Eaters: What can we learn?
– When NOT to eat mindfully
- These articles that I wrote:
– Mindful Eating: The What and How
– Your Stomach Doesn’t Know What Time It Is
– Just a Little Calories Rant
- The Honouring Appetite blog and Facebook page.
- Evelyn Tribole’s website and book.
And in case you’re still reading, one last reminder: you did not fail.