Why Diets Don’t Work (And what you can do instead!)

It’s always around this time of year where I get comments/questions like these:

What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting”

I was thinking about doing the Whole 30..What do you think?”

Tell me what you know about the keto diet”

I’m not eating carbs after 7pm”

My friend wants me to do a juice cleanse with her”

I am going to do IIFYM…it says I can have donuts for breakfast!”

Maybe it is the time of year because we are surrounded by holiday parties, sweets, less time to workout, more stress, more comfort foods, whatever the reason;  it got me thinking a lot about the word ‘diet’ and why these hundreds of quick fix ‘diets’ that we are constantly surrounded by all day on social media, TV, internet, magazines are there to make a buck.  I wanted to dedicate this post to chat all about that word ‘diet’ Why they aren’t working and and what you can do instead!

Maybe you’ve read everything I am about to say and if you have…great! but I know there are people out there who want to read it again and again because they know deep down that whatever diet they’re currently hasn’t been working and they just need to hear some reasons why and maybe some guidance for moving forward.

You know what I’m talking about. 

It’s just like when you buy a piece of clothing that you don’t LOVE so you ask your mom and sister and friend what they think, hoping they’ll say they don’t love it to validate how you really feel. (I am guilty of this!) We, as humans crave validation. I know that for me, as I have gotten older and older, I care less about being validating in how I feel about something, however,  there is still that itch that makes me want to seek out how others are thinking/feeling/viewing. 

Stepping away completely to how you think others may see/feel/view you is hard to do all in one snap of the fingers, but today I want to talk about that in terms of diet. Instead of jumping on that bandwagon, I want you to read this whole post and leave feeling like you own your OWN wagon. Hop on, hop off, but there doesn’t need to be anyone else on it. You do you.

I also wanted to write this post because I have a number of clients and people in my life who always talk about how healthy they’re eating-lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, meats, beans, chia seeds, superfoods etc–you name it–they eat it, yet they can’t seem to lose that stubborn last bit of weight. This is frustrating and I get I. This post is for you too!

I will outline some steps that will hopefully help you get out of your rut and get on that train moving forward. I just gave these tips (that I will share with you in the post below ) to a client and it helped her TREMENDOUSLY. I only see her once every few weeks, but she emailed me last week saying “Naomi, thank you SO much for your suggestions and help with my food intake. I had no idea that these small things were making such an impact on my day to day intake and after the tweaks you suggested, I am down 4.2lbs as of Monday”

You are Eating Way Too Little

For the most part, when we hear the word “diet’” we assume that we will be eating way less food than we’re used to, which is for the most part true. You never really hear the word diet and then say “ok you will be consuming 2,500 calories, go for it!!” There is always some negative calorie balance, and the main issue is that many of us are already taking in too few calories. YES-we need a negative calorie balance when trying to lose weight, but the issue with dieting is that people are usually doing it for way too long and way too restrictive (usually with a combination of too much exercise as well) They’re frustrated. 

“I’m eating nearly nothing, exercising daily and cannot lose the weight?!” Let me explain what may be happening here…

What happens when we under eat?

When we avoid food the hormone, cortisol increases in your body, causing the body to store fat. The “eat less” approach will not get your body where you want it to be if fat loss is your main concern. When you drastically cut down calories or skip meals, this will lead to a loss in muscle, slowing of metabolism and possible weight gain in the long run. Of course, you want to be aware of your body, listen to its hunger signals and cues.

THE FIX:

Find out the ideal amount of calories you should be taking in (protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram, and fat is 9 calories per gram).

**Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, and it’s also the most satiating macronutrient (meaning it keeps you fuller longer).

**Carbs are your brain’s main energy source, your body’s main energy source during high intensity exercise, and the macronutrient that has the largest impact on your metabolism.

**Fat is your body’s main energy source at rest.

We need different amounts of each macronutrient in order to maximize our exercise and also physique and hormones.

I suggest the following:

  • PROTEIN close to .8g per pound of body weight.

  • FAT from .3-.5g per pound of body weight.

  • Fill in the rest of your calories with carbohydrates.

Finding these numbers will give you an appropriate ball park. You could also head to a site like www.iifym.com where there are some great total caloric expenditure calculators.

You Are Stressed/Sleep Deprived:

We also know that the body functions best when well rested. Think about the last time you had a horrible nights sleep. Chances are you were unproductive at work, irritable, edgy, forgetful, mindlessly snacking all day and forget that quality workout you had planned. 

 When the body doesn’t get enough sleep it can experience stress which will thus force you to store more fat. When we are tired, we also have a tendency to grab food that may not be the healthiest so you could be taking in extra calories without even knowing it! IN addition, sleep deprivation makes us way hungrier than being well rested so you are more likely to stick to your solid nutrition than mindlessly eat! Getting adequate sleep also helps to stay focused and on task during the day so you will be more productive and energized for your workday and workout! Adequate sleep equates to adequate cortisol levels which keep the body in a happy place, physically. Too little sleep and cortisol rises meaning fat loss becomes way harder.

THE FIX:

GO TO SLEEP. Okay, I wish saying it made it that easy 😉 Sleep truly has such a large impact on our fat loss efforts. Think about a night you didn’t get a lot of sleep. The chances that you were irritable, hungry, craved sugar the whole day and moody was probably high. Every person has they’re own routine with bedtime so the best thing I would suggest is to shut off social media ½ hour before bed. Make your bed your NO TECH ZONE. All you do there is sleep and read. If you get into this habit, it will make bedtime a bit less stressful and allow you to focus on what you’re bed is used for!

When it comes to stress, you have to find something that works for you! I dislike making generalized suggestions because a run for someone may be the most stressful thing to hear, but for someone else, that may be just what they need. Some things that work for me? Adult coloring books like this one. (2) A book with some scented candles. (3) Yoga. (4) Going for a walk with my dog. (5) Journaling about my day.

You’ve Been Dieting For Too Long

This one hits home for me because I have experienced this more than a couple of times. Leading up to a show, that last 4 weeks is super strict when it comes to the diet, which is fine when leading up to a show and then you just have to make sure that you add back those calories gradually. The first couple shows I did, I worked to try to keep my on stage physique past show time. WRONG. I wrecked by body in the process and destroyed my metabolism. I also ended up gaining weight because my body was so out of whack. The pattern becomes hard to break because it gets to be the only thing that you are used to! The truth is that when you diet for so long, the body adjusts and thus decreases its metabolism to regulate so the body thinks that this is ‘homeostasis’ It works slower because you are feeding it less.

THE FIX:

You NEED to give your body a break. If you are shaking your head thinking “hmmm this could be me” It probably is. Some signs that you need a break include my next point having to do with cravings. Also, if you are hungry most of the time, or right after you eat a meal. This is the body’s way of telling you, its time to increase calories and probably diversify your meals. Eat healthy, but make sure you are getting in enough calories to bring your hormone levels back to normal so your body can work like the machine it is!!

Your Diet Is Too Strict and Increases Cravings

If you’re reading this, chances are at some point in your life you’ve tried a diet. You have looked across the table at your friends plate and say aloud “I WISH I could eat that” Really, you can, but you are making the choice not to because of this ‘diet’ you are on, where you are already probably low in calories, edgy, fatigued and a bit mood. When we diet, our hormones are all out of wack and because we are taking in so little and maybe different foods than we’re used to it makes us crave everything else.

Cravings can much of the time be a sign of a much larger issue such as a nutrient deficiency. Cravings can also, however come from nutrients that our bodies are lacking.

THE FIX:

Craving Chocolate? You may be low in magnesium. Steak? You may be low in iron. Fat? Your body is low in essential fatty acids. Bottom line–listen to your cravings but take a moment to really truly think about why you are craving them. This doesn’t mean not to give into what your body wants, but rather to take note as to why it wants it–these are all important steps in becoming more in tune to your body.

Your Body Is Not Your Friends Body

This may be one of the most common reasons that diet’s don’t work on this list. Not surprisingly, we are all unique human beings with unique insides, outsides, bodyparts, gait, hair and fingernails. Every single thing down to the hairs on our skin is different. I am sure that we all LOVE being unique but one that that always surprises me is that I see so many (women especially) mess around with the inner workings of their bodies when it comes to following a diet that they saw on TV, online, saw a coworker/friend/family member do or saw endorsed on Instagram. It’s one thing to buy a sweater that you saw your co worker wearing-I am sure it will look cute on you too, but to mess around with your body by diving headfirst into a new trendy diet, with no idea how your body will react is just downright scary.

For those of you who follow me, I follow a somewhat modified Low FODMAPS diet. This means I don’t eat lots of otherwise “healthy” foods such as kale, cabbage, asparagus, onions, garlic, tropical fruits to name a few. When I tell people this, the first thing they say is “Naomi, those foods are healthy” Yes they are indeed, but they are not healthy for me. We have to think about the individuality of our unique make up

THE FIX:

You need to find what works for you-this is a simple one. If you want to try something, go for it but form an opinion AFTER you do it. Any way of eating should be sustainable for the long term so if you find yourself eating in a certain way “just for this week for your best friends wedding” Chances are, you may end up doing more harm than good to your body. Read, educate and I would also suggest food journaling after you eat meals to see how your body feels. Bloated? Tired? Headache? Energized? Whether good or bad, jot it down and refer back to it so you can see the foods that fire you up or slow you down.

The Biological Sneaky Reason Why Dieting REALLY Doesn’t Work

If you’ve ever dieted, think about your world and how you viewed food/eating versus when you were just eating day to day how you normally do. After you diet, so many biological changes happen in your body that it becomes practically impossible to keep the weight off. It’s not about someone’s self-control or strength of will. When you diet, you will notice that you always are thinking about food.

When is the next meal

Why is Jenny eating that hamburger-damn I want it

What is that smell—is that doughnuts?

It’s almost impossible to make it through the day without having thoughts of constant food. Your brain becomes wired to think about it and all of the sudden you want to eat everything in sight. It’s just like when your parents took something away, it made you want it more.

The hormones in your body are also heightened when you all of the sudden begin to take food away. You will feel hungry, edgy, moody and irritable at the thought of not eating the foods that you want. As I mentioned earlier, there are also metabolic changes, in that your metabolism will actually slow its roll in your body, thus making weight loss much more challenging. I get that listening to all of this can be hard when you can’t turn onto the internet and NOT see an add for the next quick fix. These are companies that are PAID to do this. Half of them don’t even believe in what they’re selling and you always have to remember this. Think about something you’ve bought that broke—did you buy it again? I did! I JUST did this with a pair of cordless headphones. I liked them, but one day they didn’t turn on. I ordered them again and have my second pair. They worked well enough for me at the time so I gave it another shot. This is JUST how some of these diet companies get away with they’re selling. They depend on customers who keep coming back.

THE FIX:

You have to ask yourself “is this sustainable in the long term” There will always be a period of time that whatever diet you are following may work. Of course! This is just the beginning stage, it is not forever. You want to have your body for as long as possible so I urge you to treat it with respect when it comes to what you put in it. Think about where you see yourself in 6 months, 1 year, 10 years. Can you be following this same way of eating? If the answer is no, then thats your sign to change something!

CONCLUSION

I can think of nothing but sheer stress when I hear the word DIET. Every time I would look at a menu, have a plate handed to me at a restaurant, look across the table, every single thing I put in my mouth was stress. The belief that eating a certain way would make me happy was slowly damaging my self image more and more. Mindful eating is way easier said than done. “Oh just eat intuatively!” This is SO hard for SO many people including myself, but there are steps to get there (hopefully this post helped!) in becoming more in love with yourself, your body and your choices.

Why diets don’t work goes way beyond just eating. Eating properly for YOUR body takes practice and time, just like anything else. You don’t want into your first piano lesson and walk out Mozart. Everything takes time, maybe more time than you’d like, but thats the truth! Being able to understand what works for your body may take some playing around

Address the other causes; sleep, stress, exercise, food intolerances and through it all LISTEN TO YOUR BODIES. I always say that and will continue to as well 🙂 We have to enjoy the journey, enjoy the foods that nourish our bodies and begin to adapt a positive relationship with food—if this isn’t there we will forever be in a battle. As always, any questions…shoot me an email!

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