Why diets haven't worked for you (and what does!)

The New Year is on the Horizon, and diets are everywhere. Whether you’re thinking about going keto, starting a Whole30, tracking your macros... it's common to start something new in the new year. In fact, 49.1% of Americans report attempting to lose weight in the past 12 months.

Most people are dieting in order to lose weight or get healthier- often we associate the two, but this isn’t necessarily the case (listen to Episode 128 on the difference between creating healthy habits and just losing weight) and the statistics show it- according to the 2020 report on eating patterns in the US, 75% of Americans has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and healthy oils.

Clearly- dieting isn’t making us healthier, but losing weight is the most popular new years resolution, and the average adult will go on 126 fad diets in their lifetime (about 4 per year). That’s once a quarter- which makes sense, right? There’s often a change in season every few months that makes us feel like it’s time to get ourselves together, and so we attempt dieting, yet again, hoping this one will work, whether it’s the new year, spring on the horizon, the start of summer or slimming down before the holidays-- I was prey to the EXACT same patterns in my many years of dieting.

And where I’m not against you having goals to live a healthier life, dieting isn’t the way to do it- because quick fixes never lead to long term results. I’m sure you probably know this, inherently- because they haven’t worked before (at least not for long), but they’re SO appealing-- and we feel like they’re our only option.

So let's get real- why haven't diets worked for you in the past (and what DOES)?

1. Diets are inherently designed to fail.

Dieting is a 70 billion dollar industry. They're not designed to last forever, because they WANT you to keep coming back! I like to think of diets sort of like the Iphone. I love the iphone, don't get me wrong- but they’re not designed to last forever. Even the best ones only last for so long, and then you need a new one- otherwise, they'd never make money. The diet industry is out to make money- not help you create long-term change.

2. Diets often promise unrealistic results. "Lose 12 pounds in 12 days!" "Drop a jean size in 1 week!" These quick-fix promises are appealing because as humans, we crave results. Many diets are designed to give quick results (often through losing water weight) so we'll feel convinced they work, and blame ourselves when we don't seem to have the willpower to stay on the ultra-restrictive plan. But it's not us, it's the diet (remember, diets are designed to last!). We might get the results we want- but they don't last, because they're not designed to be a long-term solution. So we feel like failures and end up back on the...

3. Diet encourage the diet cycle (what I like to call the restriction/rebellion cycle).

As humans, whenever we feel restricted, it’s NORMAL to want to rebel against feeling like we can’t have something. Take kids for instance. We tell them they can't have candy until after dinner, they're going to want it even MORE and gobble it up after dinner. We’re all just big kids! Dieting often starts with good intentions, then we slip up, allow a cheat day-- and we give in. Every time a diet fails, we deem ourselves the failure and punish ourselves-- usually by veering completely in the opposite direction and overindulging, or even bingeing, on the foods we deemed 'unhealthy' or 'bad'. We're back to where we started... and the cycle continues. Again, and again. This restrict-binge-guilt-restrict cycle keeps us on the diet rollercoaster, up and down and spinning, without any real results.

4. Diets break the connection with our bodies. This is HUGE. Diets disconnect us from our own body’s needs, convincing us the diet, or the diet creator- knows us better than we do. When we’re not connected to our bodies, when we don’t trust our bodies, we end up ignoring signals and it makes it more difficult to eat in a "NORMAL" way, when we’re not dieting. So we remain in the on/off cycle. We don’t know what to DO if we’re not dieting, or we feel out of control, so we get back on another plan, and we convince ourselves we can’t eat well without a plan, we have no self control- where really, we just don’t have a connection with our bodies anymore. Lucky for you- reconnecting with your body is possible!

5. Most importantly- diets don’t focus on REAL habit change. Diets ask a lot of you. But what they don’t encourage is sustainable habit change- which is ONE at a time. If you want to live a TRULY healthy life, get off the diet cycle, if you want to get to your natural weight, where your weight is steady and isn’t yo-yoing up and down… you need to focus on HABIT change. ONE change at a time. Studies show the more changes we make, the less likely we are to keep them. When we focus on one change at a time, THAT is where the real change starts to happen.

So if diets don't work... what DOES help us to create a healthy balanced life??

HABITS! Habits that will create REAL change in our day-to-day balanced mama lives.

Kristin Dovbniak


I'm Kris! Founder of Healthy Balanced Mama, I'm a holistic health coach, certified intuitive eating counselor, trained chef, and mama of two, and I'm here to guide busy moms like you in stressing less and finding freedom with food through balanced eating and simplified routines around meal planning, meal prep, grocery shopping and cooking with confidence.


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© 2020 Kristin Rugg Dovbniak for Healthy Balanced Mama