Why Diets Don’t Work and How to Shift Your Focus to Longer-Term Solutions

Have you thought about how many diets, detoxes and plans you have tried in your life?

When new students join the Conscious Nutrition Method, on average, they have tried at least three diets, plans or trends before coming to see us looking for sustainable solutions. The bottom line here is that they shouldn’t work, right? Otherwise, they wouldn’t come to us later.

And guess what, our students are not alone!

This is becoming more common with so many new trends, quick fix plans, and diets popping up weekly. This overflow in the health and wellness space is causing more and more people to feel stressed about food, overwhelmed, and just plain fed up with dieting. You identify?

Our mission here at Nutrition Stripped is to help you find the confidence to nourish yourself with ease, so you can ditch dieting and make peace with food. To achieve this, we must get off the diet train and learn why these diets are doing far more harm than good.

Here I dive into the 5 reasons why diets don’t work for most of us and discuss what you can do instead to consciously care for your body and yourself.

Why diets don’t work

First, when we say dieting, we mean choosing to follow dietary guidelines and restrictions as a result of personal choice (think cutting carbs, counting macros, or following a strict eating schedule). What we’re not referring to here are medically necessary diets guided by a health professional (such as a low FODMAP diet for IBS or a gluten-free diet for celiac disease).

Most diets today involve restricting caloric intake in some way, shape, or form. That may involve restricting a particular food group or simply decreasing intake altogether. In my experience as a registered dietitian and Mindful Nutrition Method trainer working with hundreds of our Mindful Nutrition Method students, I have seen the impact this can have time and time again.

When your body experiences this decrease in energy, a few things can happen both physically and mentally:

  • Increased cravings for starchy carbohydrates, particularly those high in sugar.
  • Decreased confidence and ease with food.
  • A tendency to focus too much on food intake and choices.
  • Increased food guilt, stress and anxiety.
  • A loss of control around certain foods.
  • A loss of control in certain eating scenarios.
  • An increase in digestive complications.

These complications create a variety of additional challenges that may prevent you from maintaining this way of eating long-term. Let’s delve into what they are.

1. Dieting can take the joy and pleasure out of the dining experience.

If you know me, you’ve probably heard me say this before and it’s worth repeating: food is about more than nourishing. It’s tradition, culture, pleasure and joy, and it’s okay to celebrate the many roles food plays in our lives!

Every day I cook meals that not only nourish my body but also make me happy and fill me with joy to experience.

I love being alone in the kitchen or cooking with my husband Jesse. I really enjoy trying new recipes with new ingredients and then sitting down to a delicious meal (not always “Insta-worthy” either). If we cook and eat together, we love talking about our day and our plans for the future. It’s a good time to connect.

Food is a very powerful way to bring nutrition and joy into our lives, but unfortunately, many diets are really strict and rigid, and ignore it completely. They take the joy out of the eating experience and can make you feel like cooking is a chore or like your meals are unsatisfying.

They can make you see food only as a means to an end, and constantly leave you “looking forward” to the next time you “can” eat that food you really want to eat, but “can’t,” causing a lot of stress. as a result of focusing on what you should or should not eat.

Instead, try to focus on creating a positive and joyful experience around your meals.

This could mean finding recipes that you’re excited about or even just eating at the table without devices or distractions. It could be playing music while you cook a meal for yourself or inviting a friend over for a little lucky night.

Reframing food in this way can help you create a whole new appreciation for fueling your body with food, love, and joy.

2. Short-term thinking: start and stop mentality

The second reason diets fail so often for most people is short-term thinking. The 21 days this, the 30 days that. What are you supposed to do after that period of time?

They are designed to try to get you a great result as quickly as possible. You’re often not taught how to integrate that into your life in a balanced way.

Shift from this one-time, short-term thinking to sustainable, long-term thinking. Make decisions that you can realistically sustain for years. Ask yourself, can I do this every day? If not, don’t add it to your life.

Think about this: following a diet can be a lot of work. You need to learn the rules, buy the right ingredients, follow the meal plan, and potentially skip or avoid your usual social outings. And then you end up following that for, say, 30 days.

Imagine what would happen if you instead refocused all that time and energy on learning a new skill or developing a habit that would last you much longer. Maybe instead of following a trend or popular diet, simply focus your energy on cooking more at home.

It’s this type of long-term thinking that can give you the skills to navigate your health 365 days a year.

3. They often require you to eat foods that are “forbidden”

Wow, we’ve all been there, myself included. We have been very “good” with our diet, but then we go out to eat or go to a social gathering and we are offered foods that “we cannot eat.” This makes us increasingly hyper-aware, hyper-sensitive and focused on that food choice. Good?

And that can lead to two unhealthy extremes: either isolating yourself from others to avoid that temptation or completely overdoing it, sometimes even to the point of feeling sick.

So here’s my advice: Don’t follow guidelines that tell you to eliminate specific foods or food groups for the purpose of losing weight or because someone on social media told you to because that’s what it is.

Eliminating foods due to dieting without medical necessity does much more harm than good. It contributes to that yo-yo dieting cycle of “going in” and “going off” and dieting over and over again.

4. Diets are one-size-fits-all: They don’t take into account your unique body and life.

Following the guidelines of a popular diet doesn’t always align with your unique wants and needs.

While it may seem easy to pick a diet and stick to it because you don’t have to think about anything, you end up following rules that you think you “should” follow, without really evaluating what you need in your life and why.

This can create a huge disconnect between your inherent wants and needs and what you are actually doing. As a result, you may feel guilty, stressed, and overwhelmed with food instead of feeling calm and collected.

Instead, focus on what you really want. What works really well for you and your life? Write down exactly how healthy you look and feel, and why you want those things in your life. Create your vision of well-being.

When you have that clarity, you’ll start to make decisions that align with your unique needs, rather than what someone else says.

5. They ask you to do too many things at once, making maintenance difficult

Finally, diets are often structured in such a short period of time that they require dozens of changes to be made overnight. When there are so many changes at once, it is almost impossible to keep up with them all.

Instead, change to slowly build your changes and habits over time. Intentionally stack one on top of the other so they all work together to build a solid foundation for your lifestyle change.

This means taking that vision of wellness you have for yourself and breaking it down into small action steps. It doesn’t mean waking up tomorrow and trying to do everything at once. It’s taking one element at a time and really working on it until it’s easy and fully integrated into your life.

Then move on to the next habit.

We cover a lot in this video, but if there’s one thing I want you to understand, it’s that we all have unique lifestyles and bodies to honor, but most diets, detoxes, or plans don’t take that into consideration.

Get rid of the scale and measure your health in other ways

There are many ways to measure and achieve your health goals without dieting, including ways to measure results and success off the scale. I can’t tell you how important this is! If you let the number on the scale dictate whether you are successful or not, whether you are happy or not, you will constantly be in the diet cycle.

Instead, focus on how you feel, the practices you are doing, the habits you have implemented, and the goals you have achieved.

Some examples could include:

  • Blood tests or labs if you are monitoring a certain health condition.
  • Increased energy levels
  • Better digestion
  • Feel more confident in general and around food.
  • Express creativity and joy in your life.
  • Honor what your physical body allows you to do (i.e. hug loved ones, exercise, think, work, breathe, etc.)
  • Eat without distractions
  • Feel less stress around food and food choices.

Learn how to stop dieting and nourish yourself in a way that’s especially right for you

By shifting your focus from these short-term solutions to long-term solutions that arise from what you need and want in your life, you can create a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained 365 days a year, not just for 30 days.

If changing your thinking around this seems impossible, challenging, or really hard to do right now, you’re not alone.

Sign up to watch my free masterclass today where you’ll learn how to break free from dieting and food obsession starting now.

You don’t need to stress and obsess over food. There is a better way and yes, it is possible to cultivate a positive relationship with food! Join this free balanced eating masterclass to learn how.

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