6 Reasons Diets Don’t Work and How Not to Fall Victim

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
diets don't work

Want to know the best way to gain weight? Go on a diet. Sad, but depending upon the diet, this is sometimes scientifically true.

In a review of long-term diet studies by UCLA, researcher Traci Mann found that although most people lose five to 10 percent of their weight on a diet, the weight comes back for most. Over four to five years, a third to two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. It’s no wonder so many people think that all diets don’t work.

“Doomed,” you’re thinking. “I’m doomed.” But nothing can be further from the truth. Except for your DNA, which may genetically wire you to carry a little extra weight, all the reasons you diets don’t work are within your power to change. You just need to know what they are and the steps to take to thwart them.

Nutrisystem is a personalized weight loss experience tailored to your needs, not a diet. Click here to find your plan! >

Here are six reasons diets don’t work… and how to prevent them:

1. You think of yourself as “on a diet.”

If you’re on a diet, you can go off it. This is a major reason diets don’t work: They are temporary. Eating right is for a lifetime. You can lose weight eating only cabbage soup, foods that aren’t white or low-calorie, low-fat meals, etc., but if you think that once you lose the weight you can go back to your old ways, you’re sunk.

Fix: Turn your weight loss diet into a learning experience so you can maintain your healthy weight. Learn portion control, for example. Your Nutrisystem meals are perfectly portioned so you can get a good idea of what a serving of protein, starch, grain and produce looks like. Practice creating your own healthy and delicious meals to learn how satisfying they can be. To learn how Nutrisystem perfects portion sizes, click here >

2. You deprive yourself of food.

Unlike booze and cigarettes, which you can live without, you need food for survival. Your body is hardwired to avoid hunger and you can get anxious if you’re, for example, cutting out whole food groups, skipping meals or eating less than 1,200 calories a day. When you’re trying to lose weight, stress is not your friend. Studies have found that the hormones your body produces under stress, such as cortisol and insulin, actually make you eat more. Stress also makes you reach for “comfort foods” that are full of fat and sugar… which can be the reason you’ve found that diets don’t work for you.

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Fix: Simple: Don’t deprive yourself. All your favorite foods—even your comfort foods—can be tailored to fit on a weight loss diet. On Nutrisystem, you can eat pizza, mac and cheese, burgers and even ice cream! Who is going to feel deprived on that? Experiment with recipes that scale down fat, sugar and calories on all your favorites for your flex meal options so you’re armed when you’re in your lifelong maintenance phase. Also, consider learning to meditate or practice relaxation. One 2009 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that learning relaxation training skills helped a group of women significantly reduce their episodes of emotional eating.

3. You try to go it alone.

Self-help is a noble undertaking, but you’ll lose more weight if you do it with the help of others. One study found that people on a structured commercial weight loss program lost three times more weight than those who tried to do it solo. Having a cheering section or someone with whom you can share problems and tips can not only help you stay the course, it can help reduce the stress that can cause you to overeat. Plus, if you’ve already convinced yourself that diets don’t work, having a positive buddy along for the ride can be a major boost.

Fix: If you’ve already chosen Nutrisystem, you’ve increased your chances of losing weight and keeping it off. Nutrition counselors are standing by to encourage you, offer you good advice and cheer you back on the wagon if you fall off. If you haven’t sign up for the Nutrisystem weight loss program already, do so with a spouse, partner or friend. Check out Nutrisystem’s great Refer a Friend program, which offers great discounts when you sign up with a buddy.

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4. You aren’t exercising.

While studies have shown that exercise isn’t as important as cutting calories in losing weight, it’s one of four major factors in weight maintenance among the thousands of successful losers in the National Weight Control Registry, an ongoing study of how people keep off the weight they’ve lost. An awe-inspiring 90 percent of them exercise about an hour a day. Most of them aren’t running marathons either—they walk. Another bonus for exercising? Regular low-intensity exercise like walking reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to overeating… a precursor to the whole diets don’t work theory.

Fix: Find an activity you enjoy doing and do it every day. Walking is one of the most convenient exercises: You can do it anywhere, from your neighborhood, the local track or the mall. It requires only one piece of equipment: A good pair of sneakers. You can even change it up at will, walking longer or faster, taking it indoors at the mall or outdoors at a nearby park with a dog or with a friend. It’s so versatile, you can turn walking into hiking and climbing, too. The important thing is to find something active that you love doing so it’s not just another dreaded task on your to-do list.

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5. You’re a diet perfectionist.

Successful maintainers excuse a slip-up now and again and just pick up their healthy choices afterwards. For perfectionists, one extra slice of chocolate cake is a catastrophe that makes them throw up their hands, berate themselves for their weakness and quit dieting altogether. That “all or nothing” attitude is a weight loss killer. It sabotages your efforts in many ways, including convincing you that you can’t possibly lose weight and also eat chocolate, leading to a death spiral of deprivation. It’s no wonder these folks assume that diets don’t work.

Fix: Give yourself a break. One mistake is not a catastrophe. Accept that you’ve strayed a bit from plan and move on. One small slip-up won’t derail your diet but if you throw up your hands in defeat and allow it to escalate to a full-blown binge, it certainly will. If you’ve fallen off the weight loss wagon and are afraid you’re at risk of total diet derailment, check out these 6 Tips to Bounce Back from a Bad Diet Day. Also, be sure to keep recording your intake using the NuMi app. Seeing what you’ve eaten every day is a great way to hold yourself accountable, and will help you feel—and stay—in control.

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6. You let your scale gather dust.

Granted, stepping on the scale, particularly after a weekend, is daunting. But self-monitoring is an important factor in the success of the ‘biggest losers’ on the National Weight Control Registry. They weigh themselves once a week and more than half continue to track their food intake daily even though they’re in the maintenance phase, not the losing phase.

Fix: Follow the losers’ lead. Weigh yourself regularly. It’s much easier to lose a few pounds than a weight gain of 10 or 15 pounds. Make sure to keep track of your food, as well. Apps like NuMi are super easy and convenient. One 2014 Arizona State University study found you’re more likely to track your daily intake if you use one. Click here to find out the 6 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Log Your Food Today >

If you’re tired of dieting, click here to see how Nutrisystem works differently >