Why Dieting Doesn’t Work

There’s a big difference between a “diet” and “dieting,” but both are often used interchangeably, leading to a lot of confusion. 

A diet is somebody’s habitual eating pattern. In the west, it’s usually a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and meat and veggies for dinner with a few snacks in between. Habitual diets, however, vary dramatically through time and space.

In China, the majority of calories in rural provinces still come from traditional rice and vegetables. In the ancient past, people lived mainly on grain and beans, with a bit of meat thrown in on special occasions. And in the future, we’ll likely eat more grass-fed, organic produce than we can today as prices fall.


Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay


“Dieting,” on the other hand, is something entirely different. It is often used to describe a highly restrictive diet designed to help a person lose weight. People will often cut out entire food groups or attempt to slash calories by a certain percentage. By its nature, dieting is usually short term – dieters can only sustain restrictive feeding practices for so long before biology takes over and compels them to eat. 

Dieting, however, doesn’t work. We’ve known that since the experiments of Albert Stunkard in the 1950s on “reducing diets.” Sure, people lost weight when they ate fewer calories, but once they were back at home enjoying their normal lives, the weight came back on. And fast! Most people weigh more twelve months after a diet than control groups who don’t bother restricting calories in the first place. 


What’s Going On With Dieting? 

So what’s going on here? How can something that doesn’t work be such a big industry? 

It turns out that there’s a lot of money in the dieting world. Companies love the fact that they can peddle products to people who want to lose weight, knowing that they won’t make the fundamental lifestyle changes required to keep the pounds from piling back on.

Losing weight is about more than a one-time program of cutting calories: if you want to do it successfully, you have to sustain habits for your entire life. By its nature, dieting is short-term, so it doesn’t even come close to helping people get the long term weight loss that they want. 


Image by Bernadette Wurzinger from Pixabay


This point isn’t lost on Tonic Weight Loss Surgery. Medical professionals know from bitter experience that “dieting” is not a solution. It often leads to weight fluctuations and damage to a person’s metabolism, causing all kinds of health problems in the future.


The Problem With Overly Restrictive Feeding

Diets don’t work for another reason: they have a nasty habit of taking the pleasure out of our food.

Eating and pleasure should go hand in hand. Our biology is predicated on the need to eat and the satisfaction that we draw from — feeling good while eating is as natural as anything else we do.

Dieting, however, is often about taking the joy out of food, leading to a profound deficit in our lives. All of this makes dieting unsustainable in the long-run. Food and pleasure go together. 



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1 comment

  1. Yes, I totally agree that diets don’t work if they take the pleasure out of eating. And I think that people are more likely to continue with a healthy eating plan if they don’t feel they are being deprived – that’s how I feel anyway. Some great points raised my friend xx