Why Diets Don’t Work

Hi there, and welcome to diets why they don’t work and how to quit them for good. So starting with module one, which is why diets don’t work. Let’s take a look at diet facts first. So 95 to 98% of diets fail, meaning that 95 to 98% of dieters either don’t lose weight, or they regained their lost weight after about five years. And no, unfortunately, that’s not a typo. That is the absolute truth. And here’s the thing. These statistics have held steady since 1959 60 years, we’ve had the same abysmal results from diet and intentional weight loss programs. These are even medically supervised diets, not just popular weight loss programs. In fact, the first person who studied weight loss was a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. dunkard, he was studying a medically supervised weight loss program. And he found that about 95% of the clients regain their lost weight. So again, here we are about 60 years later, and we still have these horrible results. I always say to my clients, if 95% of flights crashed, would you ever set foot on a plane? Would you take a medication that only work two to 5% of the time? Of course not. But of course, they don’t tell you these results, do they? Yes, some of them have their results not typical in the fine print of their commercials. But none of that fine print says that only two to 5% of their clients actually see long term results. And yet, the US weight loss industry was worth $72 billion. Again, not a typo in 2019. It was about the same number in 2018, as well. So these companies are making billions upon billions of dollars off of something that only works for two to 5% of the population. That’s criminal, in my opinion. And it’s especially criminal that despite these horrible results, day companies have made us believe that we’re the ones that failed. It’s not their fault. It’s ours. We didn’t follow it right. We weren’t motivated, we didn’t have the willpower. They’ve made us all believe that it’s our fault that their program has failed. Even though the statistics show that diets themselves are the problem. 98% of the population cannot be wrong. So again, diets fail dieters do not. So I think it’s really important to look at the history of diets. We tend to believe that weight loss is good for us that it’s healthy, that it prolongs our lives. And I think the assumption is that somebody somewhere found that all of that’s true, and that’s why diet started in the first place. But that’s actually not the case. So looking at the history, the first Diet book was written by a man named William Banting. Back in 1864. It was called the letter on corpulence. I love that word. It became a huge success in Europe and in the United States, both countries that were working to separate themselves with it from what they consider to be uncivilized people. And those people who were considered to be uncivilized, unfortunately, were people of color, who tended toward larger body sizes, because different races have different body types. Weight Loss, unfortunately became another way of being better than people of color. So essentially, diet culture is born out of racism, plain and simple, and obviously horrible. And diet culture continues to be racist. Today, the beauty ideal is still white, it hasn’t changed. It’s gotten a teeny weeny little bit more inclusive, but it’s still overwhelmingly white. Now, going back to good old Mr. Banting, thanks to his obsessively logging his own weight. People who read his book wanted to be able to weigh themselves to what you couldn’t do at the time, people didn’t have personal skills at the time. But that really started with that really started the obsession with the scale. So because of racism and sexism, and classism, two people begin asking their physicians for weight loss advice in the early 1900s. Now, at that point time, physicians didn’t really care about weight loss. But because of the pressure of racism and the pressure of their patients demanding weight loss advice, they began schlepping weight loss remedies. To some degree, this was just to keep the practices going. But after a time, it seems like they really began believing the weight loss contributed to better health. There was no research to support that at this at that time. It was all about fat phobia, and again, about racism. But if you keep hearing this idea over and over again, you start believing it. And by 1920, most doctors offices have their own scale. And sadly, our medical community has continued this focus on the idea that weight loss equals better health, which just isn’t true. So let’s look at why diets fail. There are numerous reasons that diets fail and I tend to think of them as fitting into four different categories, physical and biological, cognitive, emotional and social. So starting with physical Biological reasons, you may have heard the term setpoint theory. Let’s take a look at this because it’s really important. setpoint theory is a well established, well supported theory, that basically says that all of our bodies have a certain weight that they like best. This is basically the way that your body tends to maintain when you’re not trying to control it. By dieting, think about it, like your body always working to maintain a steady temperature, our bodies don’t like it when we get too cold, so they make a shiver to warm up. And they don’t like it when we get too hot, and they turn on the sweat glands to cool it down. It’s the same thing with our weight, scientists estimate that the average person has a setpoint range of about 10 to 20 pounds. So if your body setpoint is between like 150 and 170, and you’re at 125, your body is going to fight like hell to gain weight. And there’s really not much you can do about that. Our setpoint is mostly biological with about 70% of it controlled by genetics. And this really flies in the face of diet culture, which tells us that we have like 100% control over our bodies that if we just eat in a certain way, and exercise this much, and this hard we can be whatever our dream sizes, and that just isn’t true. The fact is our bodies are really good and maintaining a stable weight when we just leave them alone. Like I said, your body is going to fight you when you try to move outside your setpoint. Now how does it do that. So if your body thinks you’re trying to lose weight, it does some actually pretty cool things to make you eat more and gain some weight. It will make your hunger feel more intense and more uncomfortable, it will reduce the levels of hormones that make you feel full so that you’ll eat more, it will increase the levels of hormones that make you feel hungry so that you’ll feel more hungry more often, and will therefore eat more, it will even change your tastes so that a wider range of food will seem appetizing. So and your body will reduce your overall energy output in order to burn off your calories. And it will decrease your metabolism in order to maintain its energy level. It does all of those things in order to maintain its setpoint. So with all of that going on how in the world is a diet going to possibly work. And to think that way is just about calories in calories in calories out, which is what we’ve been told forever. That’s just ridiculous when you look at what our bodies do to maintain balance. In addition to set point theory, there’s also the theory that our bodies have evolved out of a fear of starvation. Humans have a long history of food scarcity. And unfortunately, many of us are still dealing with that today. Our bodies don’t trust that they’re going to be consistently fed yet, they still believe that we need to hang on to every calorie because there may be very few coming in tomorrow. And again, some people are still currently living with this horrible situation. But even if you’re not your ancestors did, and our bodies just have not evolved out of that fear yet. So our bodies interpret diets of starvation, essentially, because they are, I’m not going to mention calorie numbers or anything like that, because that can be triggering for some folks. But the standard American diet is essentially a starvation diet. Our bodies are terrified of this and will fought fight these diets and all the ways I described above. So there was a really important study back in 1944 that supports everything that we’ve been talking about. It’s called the Minnesota starvation experiment. And there’s no way anyone can ethically do this study today, which is why it hasn’t been replicated. The study started during World War Two in 1944, because there were concerns that our troops fighting in the war had been living on very little food and were essentially starving. And no one really knew how to recover from starvation and safely reintroduce food. So they decided to do a research study about it. So 36 male conscientious objectors volunteer for this experiment to study the physical and psychological effects of starvation. And they were all tested prior to the study to ensure good physical and mental health. 36 men were selected from a group of more than 200. And again, they were test tested both physically and emotionally to make sure that they were really healthy. Now there were different phases of the experiment where they were given various calorie levels, which we aren’t going to get into. But they were also required to lose 25% of their normal body weight 25% I can’t even imagine. And as you can imagine, the physical impact of that was huge. They became gaunt and showed significant decreases in their strength and their stamina, their body temperature, their heart rate, their sex drive, all of that was negatively affected. And the physical in the earth. I’m sorry, the psychological impact was just a significant hunger made these men obsessed with food, they dreamt and fantasized about food. They read and talked about food and savor the few meals that they were given. They reported fatigue, irritability, depression, apathy. They also reported decreases in mental ability, but that actually wasn’t supported with the testing that they had done. Three men were actually excluded from the study because they broke the diet So this study shows you how much starvation impacts our physical and or mental health. And most importantly, this experiment. This experiment had these men on what would be considered a normal diet by today’s standard. Again, I’m not going to go into calorie counts. But literally, the calorie count was what would be a typical standard diet for, for an American male today. And all of those negative things happen, I just don’t think you can minimize the importance of that. And finally, the reality is, we are engineered to find food enjoyable, because it keeps us alive. And it keeps the species going. Food and sex are both pleasurable, because they both keep the species going. This is just biology. So again, it’s not about willpower, or motivation, or following the diet correctly. It’s just about biology. Now, looking at why diets don’t work from a cognitive perspective, cognitive meaning our thought process, diets have a beginning and an end. So most people start a diet already longing for the day that they can stop it, right. I mean, who ever really ever says, Oh, I can’t wait to start my diet tomorrow when no one says that. So people think of diets as being temporary, and they’ll eventually be able to stop them. So it’s already from the get go, a setup for weight regain, you might be able to maintain a diet for a certain amount of time, but chances are, it’s totally unrealistic. And at some point, it’s gonna end. Secondly, there are just too many to choose from, and they contrast each other so much that nobody knows what the hell to do anymore. It’s just confusing. We’ve made it this ridiculous science that nobody can keep up with. So it’s impossible to even know what to do which one to choose, which makes everything just confusing. diets also caused us to think about food and really distorted ways. They really cause you to look at food, just for its caloric value, or point value, or how many grams of sugar it has carbohydrates, whatever you’re measuring, they cause you to look at food is being either healthy or unhealthy, good or bad. And that really places a moral value on food. And there shouldn’t be a moral value placed on food, food is just food. It’s not good or bad, unless, of course, you’re talking about our tastes. Yes, we know that there are nutritional differences between an apple and a Twinkie. But that should make the apple a better moral choice. This morality leads us to feel that if we’re eating good in air quotes, we are good. And if we’re eating bad, we are bad. And this is horrible. This is horrible and causes so much damage. And we’ll get into that more in the next module. But the reality is, all food is valuable, and should be enjoyed. We shouldn’t be doing math while we’re enjoying our food, we shouldn’t be feeling guilty, because we’ve eaten something that we consider bad. It’s just food. And finally, diets lead to an all or nothing mindset. And this is so incredibly important. So what does that mean? It means that people think they’re either on or off a diet, they’re on track, or they fallen off the wagon. This tends to lead people to ping pong back and forth from dieting, to overeating, from restricting to binge eating. This may sound familiar to you, clients tell me all the time that they changed all of their eating habits, because of course, with diet, you’re supposed to change everything all at once, which is just so realistic, that’s sarcasm, they were going to the gym, they were doing everything right, and then it fell to pieces. Again, it’s all or it’s nothing, there’s no in between. and it’s the ridiculous expectations of diets that lead people to drop it after a while. After a while everybody says Screw it, I can’t do this anymore, and the whole thing falls apart. And then of course the person blames themselves because they should have had more willpower. They should have been more motivated, etc. etc, etc. This all or nothing mindset also leads to overeating and then restricting and then overeating and then restricting. One of the most common precursors to binge eating is dieting. This is so important, I’m going to say it again. One of the most common precursors to binge eating is dieting. You can only deprive yourself physically and emotionally for so long. After some amount of time, which varies from person to person and diet to diet, you just feel too deprived and then swing over to the other side of overeating. Again, your body thinks it’s starving, so it’s pulling out all the stops. Eventually you’re going to drop it all and start overeating, which is totally understandable. But the real problem is that when that happens, you say oh my gosh, I’m completely out of control. I need to really start dieting even more. Now I need to cut out even more calories I need to cut out even more carbs. I need to work out even harder in order to make up for the damage that I’ve done. And then you become even more rigid with your eating and maybe Your exercise. And you can do that for a while. But then of course, at some point, you say, screw it, I can’t do this anymore. And you overeat for a while, get really upset with yourself again, and vow to diet even more than before. And the pattern just continues. And it’s so incredibly destructive. And it all starts with diets. So one of the things that we’re going to talk about in Module Three in terms of exiting diet culture is finding a gray area in the middle of this black and white thinking, but we’ll get to that later. Okay, so moving on to the emotional reasons, the diets don’t work, diets don’t work. Most people after a while, feel deprived when they’re dieting, you’re not allowed to do what you enjoy doing. So of course, after a while you start feeling physically and emotionally deprived. I mean, and no one likes feeling hungry. I mean, forget even emotionally deprived, you’re being physically deprived to food, no one enjoys being hungry. But of course, again, you’re gonna start feeling deprived emotionally as well. diets ask you to give up something that’s enjoyable. And they asked you to give up a coping skill. Many people turn to food for emotional reasons. And here’s the deal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. That might be surprising to you. But I really don’t I think food is one of the most naturally comforting things that we have. as infants, one of the first thing that comforts us is food. Why in the world would that change just because we’re adults, it doesn’t make any sense. We’re comforted by human touch as infants as well. But we don’t expect ourselves to give that up, do we. So I totally understand that emotional eating can be distressing and upsetting and can feel out of control. And we should take a look at that, if that’s happening. And we should all have more coping skills than just food. But to expect yourself to never eat for comfort, again, is completely unrealistic. And quite frankly, unnecessary. I tell my clients, we’re going to work on curbing it, not curing it, because you don’t need to cure emotionally eating. diets are also asking you to give up something totally normal we need to eat, we need to feed our bodies, it’s completely normal to want food, all foods, and diets ask you to give up something that you probably really enjoy who doesn’t like food. I mean, I guess there are people who do but I don’t trust those people, and I don’t hang out with them. Food is enjoyable. I love food. And it’s really hard to just give that up. Something else that’s really important is that diets focus on the what and the how you eat but not the why. Like I said previously, people often turn to food for comfort or as a coping skill. And while this can be done in a totally normal way, it can also feel out of control and upsetting. So people often turn to diets in order to deal with this. I feel like nobody quite knows how to deal with emotional eating, or they feel out of control with their eating. And the only thing that we offer anybody then is just diets, we’ll just follow this diet, and that’ll fix everything. But the thing is, diets don’t help you deal with this at all. They focus on controlling what and how you eat, they don’t do a damn thing to help you understand and change why you eat. That’s a totally different process. It’s a process, it’s absolutely worth doing. And you know, we’re not going to get into the details of that in this ecourse. But we’ll talk a little bit about that in Module Three. But diets absolutely do not help you to understand and work on why you eat. And finally, failing in quotes, because again, you don’t fail the diet, the diet fails you. But failing a diet often leads to guilt and shame. And again, diets blame you when they don’t work, you didn’t have the willpower you didn’t try hard enough. And very often, that guilt and shame leads to emotional eating as well as possibly depression negative body image. So it can be a vicious cycle that never ends. Okay, so looking at why diets don’t work from a social perspective. If you’re dieting, you might be different, you might be the only one of your family or friends. Who’s dieting. So what what’s that, like? I mean, that’s not great. Most of us don’t love being different. So if you’re, if you’re the only one who’s doing it, it feels lousy. And it can also be very difficult to socialize. While you’re dieting, you might avoid going to certain social events or restaurants because you may feel that there’s nothing there for you to eat, or it may be so anxiety provoking to go that you just opt not to. Or you may feel like you can’t go to social events because you won’t be able to control yourself around food. And that will be really embarrassing. I’ve had a lot of clients who say I don’t even want to go to such and such party because I’m so afraid that they’re going to have food there that I can’t control myself with. And that’s very upsetting, obviously, so they just don’t go. And finally you’re being asked to give up an amazing way to celebrate, to show love and to nurture and bond with others. Food is that common denominator that we all Have there’s not one culture in this world that doesn’t use food to come together. And you’re being asked to give that up. I mean, that’s just ridiculous, right? We shouldn’t have to do that. So one more time for emphasis. We celebrate with food, we socialize with food, we nurture with food, we show love with food, and we bond over food, to give that up is just cruel and unnecessary. So putting all of that together in one key point, diets are completely unrealistic. Physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. They’re completely unrealistic. These are all the reasons that diets don’t work. And there’s plenty of them. Again, diets fail 95 to 98% of the time. If you failed diet, which I’m assuming you feel that you have again, you didn’t fail it, it failed you. But I’m assuming you’ve had that experience, or you wouldn’t have enrolled in this course. It is not your fault, the deck is stacked completely and utterly against you. And yet the racist, sexist classist weight loss industry is making billions upon billions of dollars, because they’ve made you believe that weight loss should always be a priority, and that if their diet fails, it’s your fault. So I hope that this was helpful in showing you that diets are set up for failure. And why that is, it’s not about willpower. It’s not about motivation. That’s what they want you to believe. But it’s not about any of those things. It’s about the fact that diets are impossible. And I hope that you’re at least starting to think that it’s time to stop. These aren’t working for you. They never have, they never will. So now if you’d like you can head over to the mini workbook that accompanies the course and answer the questions that correspond to Module One, if not, head with me to Module Two, where we’ll talk about the damage that diets can cause because really, this model, this module wasn’t depressing enough, right. Let’s go on and talk about damage. But I think it’s really important to notice all the things that diets can lead to. Because again, we tend to feel like we bring this on ourselves. It’s our fault, but it’s really the diets that are the problems. So we’re going to talk all about that in Module Two.