Menu

Why Another Diet Is Not The Answer

Severe Diet

“Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~Buddha

Diets are extremely seductive.

We get lured in by the promises they make:

The temptation of a smaller jeans size.

The possibility of having a beach-ready body.

The idea that everything would be better if you just weighed ten (or fifteen, or twenty…) pounds less.

When you’ve overloaded yourself with sweets and feel horrible about your body, it’s easy to get sucked into attempting a diet as a quick-fix to your weight issues.

In my own life, I struggled with gaining and losing the same sixty pounds for about twelve years. I would start over on Monday, swear off sweets and dessert, and then be knee-deep in a gallon of ice cream by Friday.

If there was a diet out there, I tried it. Cleanses, detoxes, Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, The Zone Diet, Weight Watchers, and even diet pills.

Even though I was continually seduced by the promise of weight loss, I never kept it off. I would inevitably end up failing miserably, but would still be seduced by the promise of “well, next time, I’ll really stick with it!”

So when you’re seduced by the promise of weight loss and tempted to start another diet, let me save you weeks of frustration and tears with what I learned in my twelve years of dieting.

Here’s why another diet is never the answer:

Diets fail 100 percent of the time.

Diets fail because there is an “on” and an “off.” If you go “on” something, at some point in time you have to go “off” of it. Yes, you may lose weight initially. You may drop a size or two from not eating carbs. But in six months, a year, or five years, has the weight come back?

No one can sustain the “I’m eating only fruits, vegetables, and chicken” diet forever. When you rigidly restrict what you eat, eventually you’ll get to a point where you give in. This inevitably leads to a slippery downhill slope of overeating and then “starting over” the next day.

Diets are never successful long term. Failure is built into the very nature of a diet. When you start a food plan, something will come up where you’ll desperately want something not on your diet. And then you feel like a failure because you broke the diet.

Diets always measure “success” in days, weeks, or months, because the reality is, it never lasts long term.

Diets set you up to crave even more sweets.

When you tell a toddler he can’t have the green crayon, what does he immediately want? The green crayon. He throws a temper tantrum if you won’t give him the green crayon. After a while, you get so sick of him screaming about the crayon that you give it to him so he’ll stop his tantrum.

And so it is with dieting. You tell yourself you can’t have cake, cookies, bread, or chocolate, so what do you think about all day long? The cakes, cookies, bread, and chocolate. You’re consumed with it, you dream about it, and you fantasize about ways you can eat one a piece of cake without having it “count.”

Your forbidden foods seem to be consuming your thoughts and soon, you’re so sick of fighting an internal battle and thinking about cakes and cookies 24/7 that you give in so all of the fighting stops.

The nature of something being forbidden means you’re much more likely to want, need, and crave it.

Diets take you further and further away from learning to listen to your body.

Diets work in direct opposition to intuitive eating. They’re based on strict rules and foods you can’t eat. There isn’t room to check in with your body, allow your needs/wants to arise, and nourish your body accordingly.

“Success” is based on adhering to a system that’s prescribed. If there are rules you have to abide by, you can bet that the diet does not encourage listening to your body. Instead of learning how to tap into your body’s own intuition, you only eat what’s on the list of “acceptable” foods.

Lasting weight loss requires that you are in touch with your body, that you understand what it needs and wants, and that you pay enough attention to yourself that you are aware of how/why you use food. And when you diet, it takes you farther away from listening to your own body’s wisdom.

Diets create a sense of separation from yourself.

Because diets operate on strict rules and guidelines, it creates a sense of separation from your body. Your body becomes this “thing” you’re fighting against. You wage war on it, you deprive it, and you punish it.

The sense of separation grows as you work against your body, attempting to punish it into a place of weight loss.

A diet is essentially a battle with yourself, and the more you diet, the more the distance you create between you and your body. The way back to hearing your body’s messages is through listening, honoring, and nourishing yourself (which dieting will never do for you!)

Remember that dieting never brings about the results you truly want. Lasting change begins with awareness, love, and self-compassion as you start to understand your food patterns and behaviors.

Severe diet image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Jenn Hand

About Jenn Hand

Jenn Hand, founder of jennhand.com, helps you end your relentless battle with food demons, daily struggle with cravings, and constant war with binging. She will hold you by the hand and gently help you find freedom in your eating and fall (back) in love with your body. Tired of “starting over” every damn Monday? Download your “Must Have Guide to End the Diet Cycle Today.”

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Learn to let go of the past & create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Rachel

    I kindly disagree with you. You are so focused on diet as a way to lose weight! Of course they are going to fail. Diets aren’t the problem here, it’s you unhappiness with your weight fluctuations caused by what sounds like excessive sugar consummation. Sugar is incredibly addictive and very difficult to withdraw from. You’re only supposed to have around 10 teaspoons of added sugar every day. You shouldn’t have any, it’s so bad for you. It takes at least a week for cravings to begin going away if you cut it out completely. And of course your brain wants cake when you stop eating junk. It’s called addiction!

    The only way a “diet” is going to work is if you stop treating it like a diet and instead start eating healthy, nutrient dense meals every single day. Cake, cookies, bread and chocolate are not nourishing foods and constantly craving them is a sign that you’re unhealthy. Especially if you keep eating when you’re not even hungry! Start a diet because you want to be healthy and strong! Because you want to stop being dependent on junk food to feel better emotionally. Because eventually, the cravings will go away and your weight will stabilize. And when I say diet, I mean real food. No cleanses, detoxes, diet pills. Not for 7 or 30 days. It’s for your entire life! If you lose weight and go back to eating foods that are toxic, of course you will gain weight again and feel miserable. You have to be consistent every day.

    I started eating paleo 4 years ago on and off and it’s how I eat pretty much every day now ( I also eat white rice, a pure starch that’s neither good or bad). Reading the science behind it and learning more about nutrition made it easier to stick too. I think of it as feeding my body REAL food and giving it the fuel it needs to get through the day and be healthy. It just makes sense.

    It was incredibly hard at first but now I crave vegetables! And sugar tastes so sweet I can’t eat a lot of it. My moods are better, I don’t have any brain fog or need for caffeine. I have so much energy naturally and my digestion has improved. No more will power crushing cravings either. Losing 20 pounds was a bonus. Dairy, sugar and wheat are my kryptonite. And I don’t feel punished or deprived at all!! I feel so good because I’m taking care of myself!

    Your body will thank you for eating what it’s made to digest: a diet rich with PLANTS, protein and fats. The “prescribed” foods you can eat on a Paleo diet are the foods your body NEEDS to thrive. Sugar, dairy, soy, and grains are not on that list because they’re not needed and are often detrimental. There’s scientific evidence behind it. You do not need cake even when your brain says you do.

    Your reasoning is more philosophical/emotional instead of being grounded in reality. You have some research to do. Don’t be so hard on your body either and stop focusing on losing weight! Aim to be healthy and strong instead! Like buddha. Every single day.

  • Diet is a word. Weight loss requires a calorie deficit. Whether that is created by eating less, or by exercising more, in order to burn more than you eat, the law of thermodynamics exists.

    That being said, when you are in a calorie deficit, you are hungry, and it sucks. Losing weight, no matter what you call it, isn’t fun.

    Peace!

  • Paleo has no science behind it, BTW.

  • Kenny Ritchie

    “And so it is with dieting. You tell yourself you can’t have cake, cookies, bread, or chocolate, so what do you think about all day long? The cakes, cookies, bread, and chocolate. You’re consumed with it, you dream about it, and you fantasize about ways you can eat one a piece of cake without having it “count.””

    This is simply not true. Yes, in the short-term you’ll crave those type of products, but if you’re consuming enough healthy fats, in time, those cravings will disappear. I used to be a sugar junkie, had such a strong hold over me, it took me a longtime, but I’m now 100% refined sugar, and processed carbs free.