Dieting is Never the Answer

This is the time of year when most New Year diets have failed.

Yes, The Eating Silly Season is coming to a close. To be fair, Eating Silly Season is now all year long, but in January it’s especially silly as Diet Culture stages its annual Grand Parade of Bullshit and Misinformation.

Look – there’s that “celebrity doctor” shamelessly promoting disordered eating on social media in the name of “science”. There’s that “diet guru” on TV forcing people who are Not Thin to lose weight rapidly with zero regard for their psychological wellbeing.

Then there’s you.

How are you doing with all of this?

January isn’t easy if you struggle with emotion-driven overeating, and lockdown has made it even harder this year.

It feels like there’s no escape from Diet Culture’s toxic messages.

“You have a problem”, says Diet Culture, “and we have the answer”.

Dieting is never the answer.

I conduct a lot of assessments with new clients struggling with eating disorders. If they have a history of dieting, I often ask them two questions: “have your issues with food got worse since you started dieting?” and “has your weight increased since you started dieting?”.

The answer to both questions (which often surprises them) is always “yes”.

Dieting is never the answer.

In my experience of working with clients with overeating issues, those who see improvement in their eating behaviour really understand the damage that dieting has done to them – physically, emotionally and psychologically – and commit to developing a normal relationship with food.

Those that continue to struggle with binge eating hold on to dieting and weight loss as their salvation.

Dieting is never the answer.

I get it, I really do. Once you’ve invested in dieting as the answer to your issues, it’s hard to let go.

Besides, Diet Culture swears it has the structure, control and results you’re looking for.

Except it doesn’t.

You can’t find yourself by following a diet plan.
You can’t resolve binge eating with restriction.
You can’t heal trauma with weight loss.

Dieting is never the answer.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2021.

***

The research on the dangers of dieting doesn’t lie. For the hard data on why dieting doesn’t work, read “A World without Dieting” and follow the links.

To better understand your own experiences of dieting and binge eating, read “What Does Dieting Do to Us?” and “Why Am I Doing This to Myself?”.

To help develop a normal relationship with food, read “How are You Going to Eat for the Rest of Your Life?” and “How Do You Heal Your Relationship with Food?”.

 

31 thoughts on “Dieting is Never the Answer

  1. Julie, I love your description – “The Annual Grande Parade of Bullshit and Misinformation. That’s exactly what so much of it is. Enjoyed your post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s just such misleading nonsense and creates so many problems for people and their eating. Lovely to hear from you, Don, very pleased you enjoyed the post. Happy New Year!

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  2. I finally got there about 9 months ago and now no stopping me, thank you for everything Julie. Wouldn’t have started this journey without you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the simple bluntness of your message, Julie. “Dieting is never the answer.” Period. I want to be open to conversations about food and eating, but will use that phrase to stop any discussion about the latest, greatest “diet”. Thank you! Hope you’re well – I heard your part of the globe a bit of snow … from a Canadian …. ENJOY!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The snow missed us in Norfolk (that bulgy bit in the UK on the east of England). It felt like it was going to snow as it was really cold (not by Canadian standards, of course!) but never quite got there. I keep getting amazing photos from friends in other parts of the country, though. Glad you like the phrase “dieting is never the answer” and I hope it comes in useful! Good to hear from you, Karen, hope you’re doing OK.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Almost by default, dieting feels like you’re punishing yourself. Loving yourself enough to look at undealt with trauma and pain is a much better starting point when you feel your eating has become a source of stress. Thank you for the wisdom you share in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does feel like punishment, doesn’t it? And yet so often we feel it’s the way we “should” eat, rather than listen to ourselves and what we really want. You’re absolutely right – childhood trauma is often at the root of binge eating and excessive weight gain, and we need to help ourselves to heal, rather than beat ourselves up for not sticking to a diet. Thank you for your kind words, it’s great to hear your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome, Elaine, I’m glad the post was useful. I feel it’s much better to eat instinctively and intuitively – that way we learn to work with ourselves, not against, and can trust our bodies to regulate our food intake. Hope all is well with you (and Mia!) – I know you’ve had some flooding so I hope you’re OK.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing!!… I believe that healthy eating habits and exercise/keeping active will go a long way in dealing with keeping healthy… there are many ways to deal with stress… of course, one needs to be happy about oneself “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ( Oscar Wilde)…. 🙂

    Until we meet again…
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    May the sun shine all day long
    Everything go right, nothing go wrong
    May those you love bring love back to you
    And may all the wishes you wish come true
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very poignant reminder, and well-timed. ‘Tis definitely the season. And diet itself (what we eat) is important, also for a small planet; but any urge to overeat is deep-rooted, as you say, and we need to find world-positive ways of understanding and meeting those un-dealt-with needs. Thanks for listing some positive resources. Two of my old faves (from long ago) were Diet for a Small Planet, and Eat to Live. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely – the urge to overeat or binge is often because of deep-rooted psychological and emotional issues, but it can also occur as a result of the restriction of dieting alone. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nadine, it’s good to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve tried so many diets in my lifetime but the only one that ever worked was the pushback diet. That one is simply push back from the table as soon as I am no longer hungry. Resist the urge to take one more bite of the things that taste so good and admit that one more bite is one more too many. By eating only what I need to satisfy hunger I am able to eat everything I love in moderation and still lose weight as well as maintain the weight loss.
    In the full disclosure column however, I have to admit my choices this past year have not been good, substituting ice cream for some meals, high calorie foods for comfort while locked in alone all this time, all the usual pitfalls that guarantee weight gain. I’m now back on the first paragraph now though, having received the first vaccination for the COVID-19 virus and knowing I have to get rid of the extra weight. So, only one homemade caramel per day, lower calorie foods, more fresh veg in the meal and a lot fewer sandwiches. Ten pounds shed since I started
    You are the best, Julie. Thanks for all the tips you give.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The pushback diet really just sounds like listening to your body and eating intuitively, so I’m glad that’s where you are. In my experience, it’s best to ignore calories and fat grams and just tune into what your body is telling you about hunger, preference and satisfaction. So nice to hear from you! I hope you’re doing OK, glad to hear you’ve had your first Covid jab (me too!).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have now had my second shot and so far no bad reaction. I will be happy when everyone has the opportunity to be vaccinated and life can go on, never again as it was before, but in a way we can all get on with the new age. It would be wonderful if we could make the new one better than the former, but that is probably asking too much. I am also getting back to my normal eating habits, and happy to say I’ve lost 5 pounds already. That much in a month, which is ideal for me, and my appetite now is leading me on to the foods that are good for me. Not long now until fresh local produce will be available and I’m looking forward to a visit to my favorite produce farm and orchard!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling good and all is going well for you – many thanks for the update. It will be so great to find some sort of normality again with life. Personally, I look forward to seeing family, friends and colleagues again – it feels like we’ve been on lockdown for a very long time. Look after yourself and stay safe and well.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It gets closer every day. On the sad side, my brother’s service is set for June 4, with his ashes scattered over his favorite place the next day. But since the MS keeps me at home most of the time I wouldn’t have been able to go at any time, so for each person we lose it seems another is gained to fill the void.

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      4. I have been working on that. He was in so much pain for so many years that I know he is not hurting any longer. that makes me feel better, even though I will always miss him forever.

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