5 minute reads: Why diets don’t work

Hands up if you’re already over your January diet… Cue everyone raising their hands a la the scene in Mean Girls. Everyone fails their diets, or constantly yo-yos on and off the wagon. And I'll let you into a little secret - they’re made to be that way.


The diet industry is worth anything from $60-70 billion plus, depending on who you ask. Now, if the diet worked the first time and you never needed it again, the industry would make no money. So, you have to keep failing and starting over, again and again.

Why don't diets work?

Diets are all or nothing

You’re on the wagon or you’re off. This leaves very little wiggle room for your lifestyle, preferences, moods, etc. And they inspire this mindset in you - as soon as you eat something not included in your diet, you experience the 'last supper' effect, think "Screw it, I’ll start tomorrow" and may binge eat.

Diets are designed to be short-term fixes

Especially if they promise major results very quickly. Anything that can alter your body that drastically just isn’t sustainable. And your body will adapt to deal with it, so you have to lean more into the diet to see results, and the cycle continues…

Diet = starvation

And I know you may be thinking that your diet includes a whole lot of food, or promises to. But as soon as you restrict in any way (and most diets are about low calories so will be restricting) your body thinks it’s got to battle for survival. Food is clearly scarce and it needs to adapt. That means increasing appetite hormones, decreasing satiety hormones, slowing down your metabolic rate, etc.

Your diet consumes your thoughts

You are constantly thinking about what you can/can’t eat, or how many macros/syns you have left. Constant mental math and arguing with your body and its cravings will increase your stress, and make the forbidden foods seem like the greatest thing that you must have. It’s not a case of if you eat it - but when. And how it’ll make you feel after.

You’re unique

A diet based on one person’s way of eating just might never work for you. So many factors affect what we eat: parental attitudes to food, socioeconomic factors, cultural factors, lifestyle, hormones, menstrual cycle, sleep, etc. 

If this leaves you thinking "Oh no, I’m doomed", have no fear - you can learn to eat in a way that works for you and honours your internal hunger cues. Intuitive Eating focuses on healing your relationship with your body, ditching the diets and making eating a part of your life - not the focus of it.

If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, or you just want to ditch the diets for good, visit my profile to get in touch or book in a discovery call to have a chat about how we can work on your relationship with food and your body. I look forward to hearing from you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, Greater London, SE21
Written by Kacie Shoulders, ANutr
London, Greater London, SE21

Kacie Shoulders is an associate nutritionist and yoga teacher based in South London. She takes a HAES approach to working with clients and focuses on Intuitive Eating and movement.

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