Why Do People Diet? Diets Don’t Work.

diets-suckSo, I have to confess, I’m annoyed on a daily basis.


Every day, I hear about another celebrity or friend or whoever getting on a new, fad diet.*

And it’s so frustrating because I know – this person will come back to me a month later, discouraged, saying, “Why did I end up binging?  I just can’t eat healthy.”   Or we’ll see the celebrity have a lifelong struggle with rollercoaster weight gains and losses after 305 Jenny Craig trials.  And I get mad – because I know my dear friend – or even this celebrity that’s been hounded by critics and paparazzi and assholes – CAN eat healthy.  It is easily within their power.  If only they’d stop dieting!

The thing I find especially crazy about diets is that a great deal of them these days ask you to cut one, or two food groups out of your nutrition.

  • The Paleo diet advises that you eat only what hunters and gatherers eat (meat, nuts, vegetables – this means NO dairy and NO sugar except fruit).  As a mother, this is crazy to me – I’m not going to stand in front of my kid and say, “You drink your milk,  honey, but Mommy doesn’t drink any or eat any dairy!”  Also, it doesn’t encourage oatmeal, which would probably be a good idea to eat when you’re only eating meat, as it scrubs cholesterol from your body.
  • Let’s look at the popular South Beach Diet.  Ah, the land of no carbs.  This is also bullshit, because there are good carbs, like whole grain bread and fruit.  I’ve tried this before – WHEN I WAS ACTIVELY ANOREXIC.  It’s not sustainable.  Healthy carbs keep us full until our next meal.  Also, can you imagine not eating a piece of cake at your son or daughter’s birthday?  I can’t.  I might even eat ANOTHER piece of cake 😉
  • Can I even talk about cleanses without rolling my eyes?  This, to me, is idiocy.  We don’t need anything to clean our body out – our body’s organs do it naturally.  I contend that people do it to “feel” thin in the same way they claim they can “feel” fat – they want to feel pure because nothing is going into their systems.  Well, except for cayenne powder and tabasco sauce or, whatever.  So, great, you’re going to starve yourself, and set yourself up for a binge, and deny your body what it needs to function.  Good for you.

You know who doesn’t recommend any of these methods?  Nutritionists and doctors.  When I was in treatment for my ED, I was advised to have three meals and three snacks a day, complete with whole grains, meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and – god forbid – dessert!  Now, the portions have to be reasonable, and you’re not generally advised to consume soda or corned beef hash on a daily basis – but you can eat or drink everything once in a while.

Is it that people are looking for the next quick fix?  Is is that they can’t sit with uncomfortable feelings when feeling full?  Is it that, in our extreme-based country, we feel the need to meet obesity-causing McDonald’s food with anorexia-causing cleanses?  Why do we need to cut something out to be healthy?  Isn’t health about balance?  Incorporating everything within reason?

You tell me.  I need some feedback.  Why do we diet?

*Please note this is not a personal attack on anyone.  I realize diets may work for a few, and not everyone succeeds doing things my way.  I get annoyed because I get triggered by diet talk, and because I watch people try something that doesn’t work over and over again, at the cost of their mental and physical health.  I get annoyed because I want to change it.

(image provided by www.lbnonlinefitness.com)

15 thoughts on “Why Do People Diet? Diets Don’t Work.

  1. There is a great poster that says “diets don’t work – eating disorders do!”
    That is kind of funny to me as I am riddled with ED but yes, I get your point. There are better ways to eat healthy and it is a lifestyle not a diet that needs to be adopted. Sadly, it is the day and age that we live in. Great post.

  2. The only times I’ve dieted is when I did Weight Watchers. Twice I did the program after having babies and I couldn’t lose the last 8 pounds I wanted to lose. And it worked. The last time I tried WW was after my dad died and I grief-ate. And WW didn’t work for me that time because I wasn’t motivated to do the other things I needed to do: eat well, exercise, sleep. All those things have to happen if I am going to lose weight. And I was too depressed to try.

    Now I’m freaking out because my clothes are too tight and I discovered that, for the first time in my life, I have back flab. That did it for me. I’m not dieting this time, though. I’m being (probably too) conscious about what I eat and I’m starting to exercise again. Hopefully it’ll work and I can lose the ten pounds I really should lose. If not? Back to WW. I know it’s a diet. But the calorie counting worked for me and helped me reign in my portions.

    What do you think about WW?

    Great post, by the way!!!

    1. Hey there 🙂

      Thank you for your always insightful, genuine comments. So, to be honest I don’t know a TON about Weight Watchers – but from what I’ve heard from friends, it sounds like one of the more reasonable diets/meal plans. If it’s the diet with points, then it absolutely seems more realistic – it allows you a bit of everything. Plus, as my astute friend Devin reminded me, some people need a framework for their food because they didn’t have one before.

      My food/weight beliefs at the time tend to be of the Buddhist sort: I believe we all need to work harder at accepting the body type we were given, accepting that our weight will go up and down, that there will be plentiful times and meager times. (Does this make sense?) The more we accept our bodies, the more we respect them, acknowledge them and increase our overall awareness of what we put in them and do to them. For example, if I emotionally eat one night, I try not to push that experience away; I accept it so I don’t beat myself up for it and then, repeat it again. (PS, re: the grief eating, that sounded *really* hard. I’m so sorry.) I totally ate like three desserts tonight at a St. Patrick’s Day party – but I normalize it because I know I don’t eat like that everyday. And exercise? I really started to stick to it once I did it for my mental health (read: minimize bitching at my significant other) rather than my waistline.

      This is an essay but I’m totally stoked about your posting today. I totally relate to freaking about about back flab – my “problem” area is my stomach and I’ve been known to stand in the mirror and criticize it. I hope that you are gentle with yourself however, because you are a kickass individual! Thank you for all the support today!

  3. I think I can guess why. Growing up, I had bad, crooked teeth. I was embarrassed of them. I avoided smiling for pictures my whole life. Until the day I got braces. My teeth were still exactly as messed up as they had been, but I wasn’t embarrassed of them anymore, because I felt like I was doing something about them.

    People who feel embarrassed about being fat probably get that same relief from starting a diet that I felt when I got my braces on. Sort of, “Ok, I know I’m overweight, but I’m on it.”

    1. Robin – Makes total sense. People feel better if they can tell others they’re doing something about it.

  4. My guess is that people diet because they feel it is a quick fix, but then they beat themselves up over every slip-up. What a way to be miserable all the time! I could never diet even though so many times I needed to lose weight. Right now I’m doing what I should have years ago – eating proper meals and snacks without overdoing, and lots of exercise – and the weight is finally going.

    1. Mercy – love it. Good for you if it’s making you feel healthier! You’re totally right – when I was in the thick of it I was such a miserable lady, no fun to be around. I think that is so great you are eating healthily – isn’t it crazy that when we eat reasonably and often our body just takes care of it? thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. Wow, I am loving what you are doing over here! I think the whole diet thing is sort of like the dysfunctional road back to listening to our bodies — going outside to get this information throws us into turmoil until we come to realize that.each one of us is different with a unique set of foods/way of eating that works for OUR body–and we can trust our bodies to guide us! I think there’s so much freedom in that. Thanks for inviting the discussion! xo

  6. I have tried 8 billion diets over the years. Atkins, WW, South Beach, you name it. And the only thing that worked (is working)- eating until I was satisfied (listening to my body) and moving my body as many times a week because it feels good to my body, mind and soul …and more importantly having health as a goal, not this ultimate body shape or elusive number that won’t ever get reached. I love your friggin’ blog!

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