3 Reasons Diets Don’t Work and What to Do Instead


When people learn that I'm a health coach and plan to become a dietitian the topic of dieting is bound to come up. I'm often asked what

I think

of this diet or that. And while they all have their own little intricacies in so many ways they are all the same. You see, dieting depends on drastic changes. Usually a decrease in daily calories and avoiding certain foods. And while you may see results in the first few months they


will be short lived. This is because dieting doesn’t keep the long term in mind.

The three common factors all diets have

Diets depend on self-control.

The problem with self-control is that how we apply it to food is inconsistent with the way we apply it to other areas.

According to Traci Mann, author of Secrets From The Eating Lab,

we think

saying no to a donut is one moment of self-control

. One moment where we either win or lose. But that’s not the case. You make many decisions to not reach for that donut before that “cave in moment” comes. Each time you see or walk by the box of donuts you are making a decision to not eat them.


, each individual time you make this choice is an act of self-control. But we write ourselves off as a failure as soon as we reach for the donut no matter how many times we said no beforehand.

Dieting encourages eating less than your body requires to lose weight


Which means you are


living day to day in varying degrees of starvation. Your body gives you hunger cues to tell you that it requires energy. Energy is what get from eating food and use to continue functioning for the day. Feeding your body enough quality energy (aka food) allows you to power through the day. You'll have enough energy and focus on enjoying life instead of obsessing about food. Let’s be honest, when you’re hungry how can you think about anything except food?

Diets don’t keep the long term in mind.

Diets cash in on being quick (and temporary) fixes. They leave you on your own after you’ve finished the 30-day plan and then what? You gain the weight back. Your body adjusts to the drastic changes to counterbalance the effects. You go back to eating your old eating habits and your body goes back to its previous weight. And diets don’t even aim to teach you how to eat healthy for life.

They teach you how to shock your body into a state that leads to weight loss with extreme (and unsustainable) habits


What to do instead of dieting

Our bodies are intelligent and know what they need best. And when we diet we are trying to outsmart them. Instead, we need to learn to tune in and listen to our bodies. We need to hear them out and find foods that feel good to eat. That leaves us feeling bright and vitalized.

So how do we do this? With intuitive eating.

Okay, so intuitive eating does have a bit of a learning curve. It’s a scary step to actually start to listen to our bodies for the first time. What if we eat ice cream every day for the rest of our lives?! I promise that you won’t. Sure at first it might be all you want. And yes you should


eat it!


, you will begin to crave other foods.

It’s important to indulge those cravings and learn to become okay with them. To learn how to stop villainizing or glorifying each choice we make. When you let food be food you won’t

be tormented

over each decision. You can start to focus on how they make you feel instead.

Sometimes we need a salad, but sometimes we need cake too. Food provides so much more than


physical nourishment. It’s important to care for our souls as much as our bodies.

Once we let go of our food fears we can begin to make more health conscious choices that fit our individual needs