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Why Some Diets Don't Work?

With American’s current obsession with weight and maintaining an attractive appearance, an entire industry has emerged selling diets and diet books, meal replacements, nutritional supplements and Internet-based coaching--all targeted on helping people lose weight.

But according to Gina Kolata, in her New York Times article, “Diet and Lose Weight? Scientists Say ‘Prove It’!, research reveals little evidence that diets and other commercial weight-loss programs are effective in helping people actually drop excess pounds—due to the fact that rigorous studies of diet programs are virtually non-existent. Advertisements for weight loss plans and products, featuring smiling, thin, healthy people, often imply that success is guaranteed for anyone who simply follows the program.

Many Americans view a healthy diet and lifestyle as too restrictive and difficult to maintain. For example, most diets dictate exactly what and how much food to eat, regardless of individual preferences and patterns of hunger and satiety. Chad Tackett of Global Health and Fitness says that “dieting can help us lose weight (fat, muscle, and water) in the short term but is so unnatural and so unrealistic that it can never become a lifestyle that we can live with, let alone enjoy!”

To better understand the essential shortcomings of dieting, it may be helpful to review the three key factors that contribute its ineffectiveness. Specifically, diets:

  • Reinforce and often encourage bad habits

  • Are frustrating

  • Are not empowering – you have no control

The Bad Habits of Dieting
Although dieting can teach you how to shop for low-fat foods as well as offer creative recipes and some guidelines to follow when eating out or going on vacation, they don’t teach:

  • Effective ways to exercise

  • How to deal with cravings and desires

  • How to attend to feelings of hunger and fullness

In addition, diets often cause the development of unrealistic goals--fueling hopes that this will be the “magic bullet” that helps you shed those unwanted pounds.

I Can’t Lose Weight No Matter What I Do – Diets Are Frustrating
According to The, ninety percent of dieters who lose weight regain all or part of it within five years. "Dieting" is not the answer to slimming down permanently. Certainly, any decrease in the number of calories you eat will result in weight loss. But as soon as you go back to your normal eating habits, the pounds will return. The truth is that permanent weight loss takes time and requires a modification of both eating and exercise habits. So, if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to follow one or several of the hundreds of popular diets on the market today and have said to yourself – “I can’t lose weight no matter what I do!” – now, you know why.

Diets Control You
Think about it – you’re following a detailed set of eating instructions formulated by someone who doesn’t know you, your habits, or your strengths and weaknesses. You follow this prescribed diet in hopes that it will work but without your input or adjustments for stress and other factors, most dieters are destined to fail. According to, all too often, dieters make comments like: “When I'm slim I'll never overeat again” or “When I've lost this weight, I'll go out and celebrate with a cream cake,” or 'Why should I change the family eating habits just because I'm on a diet?” Such thinking allows old eating habits to creep back in, no matter how much weight the dieter has lost, and in time, find themselves back at square one.

Everything Must Change
Trying to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle is a worthwhile endeavour and for some, it can be a lifelong struggle. To effectively live a healthy life, you must change more than the type of food you eat and the amount you consume--you have to change the way you live. The bottom line is: Eat right, be active, be smart, stay informed and don’t look for quick fixes.


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