Happy new year! I hope you’ve been able to escape the onslaught of diet ads or at the very least you’ve been able to escape my least favorite . But if not and you could use some anti-diet support, I’m here to give it!
Let’s start with this: If diets really worked to create long term weight loss, do you think there would be any fat people? Especially in a culture that (incorrectly) treats weight as controllable and that tells us (also incorrectly) that fat bodies are the wrong bodies to have?
No, of course not. If even just ONE of those diets worked, there would be very few fat people because it’s normal for most people to want to escape weight stigma (even if that really isn’t the answer to fixing weight stigma).
(And to be clear: I do not think the answer to anyone’s happiness is to eradicate fat bodies. The act of constantly trying to change one’s body size to feel better about it appears to me to create a lifetime of grief. Creating a world where all bodies are seen as worthy of appreciation and respect seems a better goal.)
If, say, Weight Watchers (now WW) ever really worked long term, why would they have to change their program every few years? They told us it worked in 1973, 1994, and 2022 and yet each of those years and decades features a completely different program. Why?
Because it — and all the other diets — never worked.
To be more precise: most of the diets work for a bit, then they don’t. If you need proof, this is a great summation of the research around weight loss stretching back to 1959 .
Weight loss doesn’t work because the body defends itself against what it determines is a famine (not enough food), slows the metabolism and increases fat storage capability.
That is why people lose weight and then regain weight — either some, all or more than they lost in the first place. Diets will always fail because our bodies want to survive. Our bodies don’t know there is a current cultural preference for thin bodies. It just thinks it might die and weight regain is literally life-saving.
There are so many things you can do to help your health. Dieting IS NOT one of them. You can work on well-being no matter what size you are. It will look different for different people, and outcomes and goals will always differ and that’s okay.
Want to hear more on this subject? Check out this classic Dietitians Unplugged episode, Why Your Weight Loss Diet is a Bad Idea.
I wish you a year of true well-being and no diets!
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Welcome to food freedom! Dare to Not Diet LLC is owned by Glenys Oyston, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. It's time to feel good about eating, your body, and your health.