Why Dieting is the Absolute WORST Thing You Can Do to Lose Weight.

We've all heard the rallying cry over the past decade: "Diets don't work!" The backlash against diets has been tremendous, and rightly so. It's a well known fact that approximately 95% of those who lose weight on a typical diet will gain that weight back (and probably more!) So obviously they aren't working right? Well it depends on how you look at it and whom you ask. There are still that 5% of people who apparently haven't gained the weight back. (Wouldn't you actually like to meet one of those people someday?)

So I wouldn't say diets don't work. Because technically, they do. In general, if you restrict your calories you will lose weight. If diets never allowed anyone to lose weight they would have been passé long ago. Instead the diet industry just keeps chugging along, raking in billions of dollars a year, making more outrageous promises. Somebody's got to be getting some results somewhere!

Perhaps the better question to ask yourself is this:
Does dieting work for you?

Does dieting work for you in the sense that it moves you towards your goals (permanent weight loss, natural slimness, and freedom from worry)? Is a diet the best possible choice you can make for yourself? I believe that for 95% of the population, the answer is a definite 'NO!'

Diets may work in the sense that they can take off weight under certain circumstances. But diets are far from the best method to lose weight. In fact, for most people trying to lose weight, diets are the worst thing they can possibly do! Diets actually set people up to gain weight!

Diets are harmful by the very nature of what they do to our physical bodies. Maybe worse is what they do to our minds. There are two ways in which diets train our minds to actually gain weight.

We all know that what we focus on, we are drawn to. We are told that if we want to achieve any goal, we should focus on that. Picture where you want to be. Visualize it. Think and grow rich. See yourself winning the prize. Why do this? Because our minds are powerful and what we think about, we are drawn to.

So what do diets make us focus on? The food! We're constantly thinking, 'Is that hot dog on my list?' 'How many points is this banana bread?' 'Is that salad really low carb?' Diets actually train our mind to focus on food, so much so that it becomes a natural habit. And what's the result? We find ourselves eating more and more because we're constantly thinking about food and eating. It's not that we don't have the willpower to stick to a diet. It's that we're unknowingly training our mind to eat by dieting!

Ever noticed that it's usually all the dieters that know the calorie count of everything on the menu? It's usually the dieters that talk about their new diet or how low-carb something is or how high fat it is? Why? Because they know a lot about food! Their focus, because of their diet, is on food.

Let's say that I asked you to focus on a cheeseburger (unless you hate cheeseburgers—focus on something else, pizza, chocolate cake, etc.). Think about the way it looks in front of you, the beef, the melted cheddar or Swiss cheese, the sesame seed bun, the fixings on it, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, pickle, the smell, the taste, the warmth of the bun as you pick it up. Is your mouth watering yet? What are the chances that if you kept thinking about a cheeseburger throughout the day, you would eventually eat one? It would be a natural result of your focus.

Not only do diets place our focus on food, but they also introduce a concept that humans are not good with: restriction. When you think of the traditional 'diet' do you lovingly envision the carrot sticks or the cottage cheese that you're allowed to eat? Chances are that you started dreading the 'diet' food, while longingly picturing the restricted stuff like pasta, or chocolate cake, or butter tarts, or French fries. That's a classic example of what restriction does to us. Our focus turns to what we can't have.

Here's another example of what restrictions do to us: If I told you that you could sleep at any hour at any place in your house except on your living room couch, what would happen? You'd be fine for a while, sleeping in your bedroom, sleeping in your easy chair, even on the carpet in front of the television. But eventually what would you start to think about?

'Why can't I sleep on the living room couch?' 'What's so special about the living room couch?' 'What does she know that I don't?' 'It looks so comfortable and soft.' 'Who the heck does she think she is, telling me I can't sleep on my own living room couch, I'll show her!' And you have a wonderful, fulfilling nap on your living room couch.
That couch has just taken on more value for you. It's the forbidden fruit that you'd much rather have than just a bed. And has anything really changed? No, sleeping on the couch is the same as sleeping on the bed. But in your mind, it's better. See why we value our chocolate and pizza and French fries so much? Because, just like the living room couch, we've been told we can't have them. Restrictions make us value what is restricted.

So in going on a diet, we've psychologically moved ourselves closer to food by focusing on it and restricting it. Talk about setting yourself up for failure! Not only does the weight come back on, but you now have a very well trained food-focused mind that values the highest calorie (and least nutritionally helpful) food.

If you've been beating yourself up for failing to lose weight with a diet, I would encourage you to forgive yourself. Let it go. Just forget it. It's not the only way to lose weight. It's not even a great way to lose weight! Make the decision to let diets go once and for all. For many people, their journey to natural slimness and health begins with the first step of giving up diets forever. I would encourage you to do that today. Start training your mind to focus on life and what's really important to your family, friends, goals and dreams. Not food!

Author's Bio: 

Kathryn O'Neill is a Weight Mastery Coach, as well as a Nutrition and Wellness Specialist. One of her greatest joys is helping people become naturally slim. She can be reached at: kathryn.oneill@sympatico.ca or at: weightmastery@sympatico.ca