We are not failing diets – Diets are failing us!
I think that it would be fair for me to say that there are probably some of you here this evening who have gone on a diet at some point as I have, and had some short-term success but, as the studies show, very little long-term success.
How is this multi-million dollar industry we call 'dieting' failing us?
Diets generally make you hand over control of a central part of your life to an external program. All your thinking is done for you; this results in you losing touch with your body, with your hunger or lack thereof, and in your ability to manage one of your most basic needs.
Eventually, we become tired of the complexity, the hunger, the lack of flavor, the lack of flexibility, the lack of energy, and the feeling of deprivation. We quit and gain back the weight, sometimes more.
Why do we sometimes gain back more weight?
When you go on a low-calorie diet, your body thinks you are starving; it actually becomes more efficient at storing fat by slowing down your metabolism. When you stop this unrealistic eating plan, your metabolism is still slow and inefficient causing you to gain back the weight even faster, even if you are still eating less than before you went on a diet.
In addition, low calorie diets cause you to lose both muscle and fat in equal amounts. However, when you gain back the weight, it is all fat and not muscle, causing your metabolism to slow down even more. Now you have extra weight, a less healthy body composition, and a less attractive physique. Not the result we are looking for...
There was a study done called the “World War II Study” that discovered some very interesting consequences of dieting. Other similar studies have indicated this as well.
The study took a group of men who were non-dieters and of normal weight and asked them to restrict their food intake for six months in order to lose 25% of their body weight.
These were the consequences:
- The men became focused on food and food-related activities like collecting recipes and pictures of food.
- The men grew irritable, apathetic, lost interest in sex and fought with each other and their girlfriends or wives.
- The most surprising effect was noted when the men could resume normal eating, they had developed bingeing behaviors and gorged themselves on appealing foods.
- They lost touch with their hunger and appetite signals.
When you consider all these studies and facts about dieting it is almost impossible to fathom how the dieting industry has become so successful. Think about it: how many diets are out there saying that they have the magic formula? Yet people are more overweight and obese than ever.
The simple fact is that diets are big business... and that’s all. The people who sell diet books have an agenda: to take your money and buy themselves a million-dollar mansion in Beverly Hills!
Nobody is more interested in your health and happiness than you.
In researching this topic, it became very apparent to me that the only type of diet that is successful over the long term is a change in eating patterns incorporated into a proper change in lifestyle, which should be made gradually over a period of time.
With springtime upon us, and the summer quickly approaching, this means we will be wearing less and less clothing, wearing instead shorts, T-shirts, and eventually bathing suits. This, combined with the realization that we may not look as good in that bathing suit as we would like, will in many cases trigger the desire to look for a quick fix and run to the book store to buy the newest, most popular, quick-results guaranteed, diet program.
Resist the temptation, save yourself a little money, be a little patient, and use a little common sense. Don’t let yourself get swept up in all the hype, don’t let yourself lose touch with your body, don’t let yourself lose touch with one of your most basic needs: don’t let diets fail you.
This article is actually a speech that my friend Mark Hetherington wrote and presented to my Toastmasters Club after extensive research on diets. It is reproduced here with his permission.