A recent blog post from Harvard Health is reiterating a common problem: starting a new diet can be tricky business. It begs the question, “If diets are known to fail and the likelihood of regaining lost weight is high, can we ever really lose weight and keep it off?”
What the Research Shows
This article points out many truths in regards to dieting behaviors and statistics:
- At any given time, more than a third of Americans are on a diet to lose weight. Most will lose limited amounts of weight or regain some, if not all of it, back.
- Some people don’t follow their diets carefully and therefore don’t lose much weight, even from the time they started.
- Others eventually go off their diets because it is too restrictive and hard.
- Many people fall short of exercise when they are strictly limiting their calorie intake.
- In addition to weight regain when a diet fails, many health benefits are also lost (i.e. improved cholesterol and reduced blood pressure).
Why Dieting Doesn’t Work
It goes without saying that diets don’t always produce the results you’re looking for — especially long-term results. This is because we focus too often on rules and restrictions that are unsustainable. We’re looking through a narrow lens.
Willpower is a limited resource and it is affected by other outside factors like hormones, sleep and hunger. If you really want a diet to stick and help you keep weight off, it’s best to think of it as a lifestyle change. Focus less on black and white thinking and more on the gray area: moderation, flexibility, and what you can keep up with over the long haul.
Try these Tips Instead:
- Work on other lifestyle modifications in addition to any diets or eating behaviors (exercise, sleep, stress management, etc.)
- Choose a way of eating that you can sustain forever.
- Focus on adding healthy variety to your diet instead of eliminating certain foods.
- Work with a healthcare provider to help manage your weight.
- Maintain connections with your support systems.
Losing weight and keeping it off isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you have to ride the yo-yo diet roller coaster. Seek help from a health professional and place your focus on behaviors you can keep up with. You will be far more likely to reach your weight goals and keep it off.