According to Businessweek, dieting is a 40 billion dollar a year industry in the United States. With such a mind boggling amount of money spent on weight loss products each year, a sensible person might conclude that Americans are losing weight and becoming fit. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over a third of American adults are obese, at least 30 pounds overweight. Having been raised in an area of high obesity rates, I personally know many people who have spent small fortunes trying numerous diets without much success. Heartbreakingly, I have seen people lose weight while on a diet only to gain it back and more after quitting the diet. So, why do most diets fail? The reasons why diets fail may be as numerous and personal as the number of people on them. But, I believe that most diets do not succeed due to a few obvious reasons.
Diets Are Restrictive
I know there might be a few fad diets promising consumers they can eat anything they want to and still lose weight. However, diets usually place restrictions on what a person can eat. For example, a person on a no carb diet isn’t supposed to eat bread. Or, a person on a low fat diet probably wouldn’t be seen ordering a T-bone steak at his or her local eatery. Children don’t like it when adults place restrictions on them. Likewise, adults begin to resent the restrictions of a diet over time. I strive to live a healthy lifestyle and enjoy fattening foods sparingly in moderation. If I tried to go on a restrictive diet, I know that I would fail because I would crave the restricted foods more than ever. I recently tried a dairy free and red-meat free diet for two weeks to treat inflammation in my joints. The two weeks were brutal and seemed more like two months. After the two weeks were up and my health condition had not improved, I immediately ate a hamburger and drank a glass of milk.
Diets Aren’t Sustainable
Because many diets are so restrictive, they aren’t sustainable by most people for long periods of time. If you’re on a no carb diet, odds are you will not want to stay on it for the rest of your life. One of my family members tried a vinegar diet one time. She made herself drink a certain amount of vinegar every day. Needless to say, she didn’t lose any weight and isn’t buying vinegar in bulk today. Many people want to lose weight in the short-term and can’t think beyond getting those fifty pounds off. In order for someone to lose weight and keep it off long-term, they must eat a healthy diet that is sustainable for the rest of their lives.
Diets Are Punishing
Having been on a few diets myself when I was younger, I know how bad it feels to mess up. If my diet restricted me from eating certain foods, I felt horrible when I indulged and ate one of the forbidden foods. When I messed up on a diet, I felt belittled and like a school kid who needed to put her nose in a corner. After breaking a precious rule of the fad diet, I felt like I needed punishing as if the diet wasn’t punishment enough. Eating food shouldn’t make people feel guilty. Instead, mealtime should be an enjoyable time of savoring delicious healthy food and sharing quality conversation with loved ones.
Misinformation about Nutrition
Finally, a lot of people’s diets fail because of lack of information about nutrition. When shopping for food, consumers are bombarded with shiny colorful packaging that often contains misleading information about nutrition. For example, a bag of cookies might boast on the packaging that it contains no fat. A closer examination of the nutritional information on the back of the package may show that the cookies are laden down with twice the sugar than that of a comparable brand. When shopping for healthy food alternatives, always study the nutritional information on the back of a package before making a purchase. Don’t be deceived by the nutritional promises and proclamations on the front of a package. If you’re unsure if something is healthy or not, try to fit it into one of the five healthy food groups. If the food you’re contemplating purchasing does not fit nicely into one of the five healthy food groups, then it should probably be eaten sparingly in moderation or not at all.
First Person Account: How I Eat Healthy Food and Keep the Weight Off for Good