The Four Things Wrong with Every Weight Loss Diet

Every “breakthrough” diet promises it’s the one that will work! I went on “diets” for decades. They never worked. I lost half my bodyweight and kept it off when I stopped “going on a diet.” It happened when I realized what had always been wrong about EVERY diet I ever tried.

Hunger does not matter. Every diet claims you’re not going to be hungry. Yeah, so? That’s assuming that you only eat when you’re hungry and you always stop eating as soon as you’re not hungry anymore. If we all operated that way, weight wouldn’t be an issue. There was a time in my life when I rarely ever even got hungry as I was always eating. I ate because I WANTED TO. I didn’t have to wait until I was hungry to feel like eating my favorite foods. I ate mostly out of habit because my food brain craved food. I thought about food all the time so I ate it.

I’d estimate that the people who eat only when they’re hungry and who stop eating as soon as they’re not hungry anymore are people who don’t deal with a weight problem to begin with. In our culture we are conditioned to eat anytime we want to. Many of us forget what it’s even like to be hungry.

It’s a complete fallacy to assume that someone who deals with having a brain that is preoccupied with food is unconcerned about food and free of thoughts about food just because they’re not physically hungry at some given time.

Food isn’t interchangeable. It’s pointless to try to fill me up with food that isn’t what my brain is telling me to eat. In fact, when my brain decides to go into craving mode, trying to stuff myself with some other food doesn’t work at all. Being full of food that my brain isn’t fixated on does nothing to kill the fixation. So this idea that I’m going to be perfectly content with the food I’m “allowed” to eat on the diet is just plain wrong.

A diet disrupts your daily routine. Going on a diet means trying to change what you do all day, every day. Immediately, you’re trying to have a breakfast you don’t normally have, the lunch break you take at work is altered, how you spend your evenings is up-ended. A diet is a big list of instructions and you’re supposed to follow them but chances are very likely they won’t fit very well into your existing lifestyle. Regardless of what you’re actually supposed to eat, you can’t just CHANGE your daily life and expect to be able to keep that up for the time it will take to drop some weight.

Diets are all about food. What you can eat, what you can’t eat. When you’re supposed to eat, what you’re supposed to think about what you’re eating, how you’re supposed to think you’re not hungry and you think the food is absolutely great. You have to shop for it, prepare it, schedule it, learn all about how to follow this diet and stay on it, all while trying not to think about what you’re not eating. Going on a diet makes you think about food even more than you normally do, which for some of is, is ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME. So just consider going on a diet a descent into my worst nightmare. A significant percentage of diets are pitched with a “Keep enjoying the foods you love!” marketing approach. The Big Three weight loss companies all sell their services that way by putting the focus on continuing to emphasize food gratification. Browse any bookstore shelf of diet books and see how many say something on the cover to the effect of “Don’t give up the foods you love!” The foods I “love” would kill me if I kept eating them.

Some people can go on a diet and lose weight. Those people usually have not struggled with their weight for all or most of their lives. Their lifestyle changed and they put on a few pounds they never had before. They got busy and they started eating for convenience and exercising less. For many, many people, they begin to consume a higher percentage of processed and packaged foods which sends their calorie intake higher while lowering the nutritional quality of what they’re eating.

But for some of us, food itself is the struggle. I like to say when it comes to food, my brain has a mind of its own! Thoughts and cravings of food will overwhelm me at times and it makes no sense to try to fight fire with fire. I have streamlined the role of food in my life and stopped putting so much emphasis on it. I no longer try to figure out what my “relationship” with food is. I stopped trying to analyze my emotions and what was supposed to be “wrong” with me. I deeply examined my own daily behaviors and worked to minimize the time and energy I consciously devoted to food. I keep it very simple and plain and I eat whole foods as much as possible. I transitioned myself toward that by managing my own daily routine and not following some other dictated plan. My brain is wired to focus on food but it definitely helps to keep processed and packaged food out of my life as much as possible.

No “diet” will work for me except that one I determine works for the way my life works, the way my brain works, the way my body works.