Did you wonder why that diet worked so well the first time? Then you tried it again and maybe again? Where was that magic?
There are reasons diets are alluring. A big reason:
Diets promise dramatic weight loss results.
People often go on a diet and do well – the first time around. They’ll have some success, but then get bored and slip, slash, slide back to old eating habits. Trying to get back on track, they realize poof! the magic disappeared. That diet rarely works the second, third, fourth time around.
How many times have you joined Weight Watchers?
Have you been on Weight Watchers? I have. It was the first formal diet program I went on as a young teen. It worked great the first time, but how many times did I rejoin hoping to get the magic back? (Too many to count.)
Diets work that way. Over the years many people have told me of their success with… (fill in the blank)…. They’re successful with – for example, Atkins. It worked in helping get weight off yet didn’t help in keeping it off. Why?
An interesting phenomenon. Most diets – when followed diligently – work well at first and sometimes with significant success. It’s new and fresh. Unfortunately, not rarely sustainable. Andd future attempts? Not so well. For many it becomes yoyo dieting – a diet cycle so damaging to emotional health. Trust me I know.
Why diets ‘work’
This is my philosophy of why diets work. You can fill in the blank with any diet. So, the way Paleo or keto or Atkins or gluten-free or South Beach, or whatever is the darling of the day.
I’ll use Maggie to illustrate. Maggie’s typical day:
- No time for breakfast but grabs a donut at the office washing it down with a soda.
- Overworked and on deadline, Maggie drinks her way through lunch with a caffeine and sugar-Laden beverage from the Starbucks in her building.
- She ignores any hunger signals grabbing handfuls of jellybeans on her manager’s desk.
- Brain fog rolls in later in the afternoon and another Starbucks is Maggie’s pick-me-up.
- Leaving work and having nothing prepared for dinner, she speed dials Door Dash.
- Exhausted from work and her poor eating habits, Maggie collapses with no energy to consider anything physical, like taking a walk. Instead, vegetating on the couch mindlessly noshing on sweet treats.
That’s been Maggie’s pattern for years.
Ready to change
Finally, ready to change, Maggie hears about a program and embraces it. Again, fill in the blank – keto, Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, or any other diet.
These were some changes Maggie made.
- She gave up her morning donuts and started eating a more substantial breakfast.
- She quit drinking her sugar-laden coffee beverages.
- She made time for lunch, bringing something from home.
- She regularly ate an afternoon snack – most often it was a handful of nuts.
A big plus – Maggie had a plan for dinner. After a few days, feeling better with more energy, she started walking after her evening meal. So long couch spud.
What gets the credit?
As the weight started to drop, of course, Maggie gave credit to her new diet program. But look at the changes she made:
- She started planning and eating regularly. She ate more vegetables.
- She was eating more wholesome foods and limited or nearly gave up her ultra-processed foods.
- She wasn’t eating so much refined white flour anymore, nor the fast food.
- She was getting physical activity in the evening. Not to mention she eliminated – get this – 50 teaspoons of added sugar, crazy!
Diets can work not due to any magic, but because the person embraces new eating habits – awareness and paying attention. The dieter starts eating better, abandoning old, unhealthy eating habits, and then loses weight. Was it keto, Paleo, Atkins, gluten-free, South Beach, whatever, or because the dieter, in this case, Maggie, stopped eating so poorly? Think about it.
Is it the diet or the awareness and making better choices that facilitates change and weight loss?
- Is this something I can see myself doing years down the road?
- Is this nutrition I can live with?
No? Then think of an alternative approach.
Work with me
You’ve figured it out – I am not a fan of diets – been there/done that. I know how dieting affects people – I know how it affected me. I prescribe a gentler way, a gentle approach with mindfulness.
If you’re interested in my approach, please check out the Neily on Nutrition BE FREE Blueprint® to learn more.
Enjoy this? Then check out these videos and posts!
- YOU are Enough! Ditch the Diet
Image credits: Pixababy, Canva
Jennifer “Neily” Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach