Diets Suck…Here’s What to Do Instead



Not All Diets Help You Achieve Your Health Goals

Summer’s almost over. The kids are back in school, the vacations are winding to a close, and you’re starting to realize that you might have partied just a little too hard this past summer. Maybe your clothes are fitting a little tighter, you’ve loosened your belt buckle a notch or two, or the “moobs” are becoming more visible. No matter what the signs are, it’s likely that you’re considering going on a diet. But here’s the deal: The diet that you think will improve your life, make everything all better, and give you washboard abs in no time, might actually do the opposite. Here are 5 unintended consequences of dieting that you should be aware of before you make the leap to calorie counting or restricting your food intake.

1. Dieting disconnects your body from your brain – not literally, that would be gross. But the more often you intellectualize and control how much or what you eat via calorie counting, food group restriction, or portion “control”, the less you are able to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.

2.  Dieting can actually causes overeating. There is evidence that restricted food intake will actually lead to overeating, inability to understand your body’s hunger signals, and a desire for more high sugar, high fat foods. Food “cravings” are often the result of food restriction.

3.  Dieting can make you unhappy – But more than unhappy, dieting has been associated with negative emotional states such as depression, anxiety, lower self esteem, irritability, and nervousness. And let’s be honest, any diet that makes you feel worse instead of better is not likely to stick.

4.  Dieting can cause negative hormonal changes – Studies have shown that a number of hormonal changes take place during dieting that makes weight gain more likely after weight loss, and also subsequent weight loss attempts less successful. Meaning its easier to gain weight and harder to lose weight once you’re done dieting.

5. Diets can distract us from the lessons we most need to learn. Following a strict diet may get you lean for a period of time, but it doesn’t help address the underlying issues that need to be solved such as emotional eating, stress, and lifestyle factors. It’s like applying aBand-Aid when stitches are required.

So what’s a guy to do to lose a few pounds (or maybe more)? Some people take the above evidence to mean that it isn’t possible to lose weight. However, that is not the case. It is absolutely possible to lose weight without hitting these obstacles above, but it requires a different perspective. Rather than focusing on diets or restriction, focus on small and easy changes that won’t take much of a psychological, metabolic, or emotional toll on your body. The process of long-term sustainable weight loss involves adding in enjoyable habits that can be easily maintained.

Here are some examples of how this works:

  • If you were to add in a habit of adding in 1 mile of walking per day, you would could 10 pounds over the course of a year.
  • If you were to add in the habit of skipping 2 deserts weekly, you could lose 15 pounds over the course of the year.
  • If the average person adopted a habit of eating 20% less at each meal he could lose about 40 pounds over the course of the year!!!

See how these can add up quickly? Not only is this so much more enjoyable and fun than restricting everything you eat, it actually works in the long term, rather than just immediately.  So next time you’re tempted to Google the latest and greatest “don’t-eat-anything-but-chicken-and-broccoli” diet, get up and go for a walk. Your body will thank you.


Photo: Flickr/Karla Pitts


  1. This is so true and I’m currently on a balanced nutrition regimen and I’m going slower than ever but what I’m doing is working and perhaps this time it will stay off for good! All those fad diets made me lose fast but you know, it came back. This is excellent advice Ashley!

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