95% of diets fail. It’s a staggering statistic, I know, but the research clearly shows the majority of dieters regain lost weight within two to five years. Two-thirds of these people even settle at a weight higher than their starting point. Plain and simple, dieting is a predictor of weight GAIN not loss. How is this possible? Energy deficit from dietary restriction sets us up to feel deprived. Over time our body increases hunger and cravings around food in an attempt to ensure we are nourished properly. In many cases this leads to a cycle of restriction and overeating or bingeing. Dieting repeatedly over years will evoke further changes. Your body will interpret this process as intermittent famine and will induce metabolic changes to maintain fat stores and reduce energy expenditure. This makes the goal of weight loss even less likely. We also know dieting is linked to other negative outcomes like food and body preoccupation, reduced self esteem, and distraction from more valuable health goals.
You didn’t fail the diet through lack of willpower; the diet failed to understand basic physiology
A diet is anything that requires adherance to a strict meal plan, elimination of food groups or nutrients, promotes food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or discourages you from enjoying a wide variety of satisfying foods. This includes paleo, low carb-high fat, high carb-low fat, intermittent fasting, keto, low calorie meal plans, whole 30, high protein-low carb, and often veganism and vegetarianism, among others. Don’t be fooled when companies repackage fad diets from the 70s, 80s and 90s for the modern era. They are still unsupported by science, unsustainable and damaging.
There is an alternative to dieting
The Non-Diet Approach is the clinical application of Health At Every Size, a philosophy which focuses on health behaviours rather than weight loss. You will be supported to improve diet quality, engage in joyful movement and attend to psychological wellbeing. Your eating pattern will be driven by appetite, satiety, taste, availability and nutrition principles. This approach is underpinned by self care and self compassion, and rejects the idea guilt and shame can be used to improve health. Non-diet nutrition is associated with improved health outcomes including blood glucose control, improved blood lipid profiles and positive psychological outcomes. We also know health behaviours to be more relevant than weight to longevity.
Mourning your thin(ner) body
It is hard to let go of the idea of weight loss. For many of us the notion of a smaller body is linked to confidence, love, belonging and acceptance. Health at Every Size is not anti weight loss, rather anti-pursuit of weight loss. Clients are supported to shift focus from weight loss to health behaviours, and to explore relationships to food and body.
Creating space from food and body obsessions allows us to engage in meaningful activities which are known to bring us greater fulfilment and joy.