Why dieting doesn’t work (but why seeing a Dietitian can)

I find it funny that the first four letters of my job title (DIET) are so commonly associated with what I deem to be a really bad four letter word. To help explain this I have provided the following example.

Exhibit A:

Diet: noun A special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

E.g. “I’m going on a diet…for two weeks”

Exhibit B

Diet: noun The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eat.

E.g. A nutritionally balanced, mostly plant based diet.

What really annoys me is that that four letter word “Diet” is so commonly mistaken for the “restricted” (a.k.a. doomed to fail and make you feel like a failure with it) definition as opposed to the “habitual” (a.k.a. normal part of your everyday existence) definition and the more I think about this confusion between Exhibit A and Exhibit B the more I can see why we get so confused in the first place.

We live in a nation where an estimated 70% of males and 56% females are classified as either overweight or obese. A recent IbisWorld report on weight loss services in Australia showed that we are spending more than ever on trying to get “thinner and healthier” (please note the two do not always go hand in hand). During 2013-14, Australians are estimated to spend $643.7 million on weight-loss programs, low-calorie foods and dietary supplements in their quests to slim down. That’s a lot of cash.

To explore this further I jump onto Google™ to follow the money trail. I hesitantly (as a Dietitian very hesitantly) type the phrase “The Best Diet” I am greeted with the following search results:

“Top Diet Pill in Australia”

“Liquid Meal Replacements”

“The 25 Best Diet Tricks of all Time”

“The 15 Best Diet Tips Ever”

“Seven Day Flat Belly Plan”

“Doctor Oz’s 100 Best Weight Loss Tips”

I am completely bewildered to find that the first page of suggested websites had chosen to go with the “restricted” definition of the word diet. No wonder Australian’s are confused when it comes to following the true “best diet”.  I also get a giggle out of a well known jockey promoting a weight loss supplement (really? – listening to someone who loses 10-20% of their body weight in a few days specifically for an event that lasts five minutes- doesn’t sound like sustainable nutrition advice to me- although admittedly I’m not that into horseracing)

By now you probably want to know what I believe the best diet to be. So here goes.

In my opinion the best diet is put simply “A life sentence”. It has no finish date, no goal weight, no restriction, it’s not a 10% weight loss followed by a 20% gain. It is something you can do for the rest of your life. Sounds boring? I hope not- Although my advice may not be recommending a diet filled of pills, shakes, food exclusions and lemons…lots of lemons it does have it’s up sides – primarily enjoying your food and achieving positive health outcomes.

When I say “life sentence” I am not referring to a life filled with restriction, guilt and boring meal plans (also I am not referring to being locked in a prison cell planning your escape from the evil grips of the dietitian). What I am referring to however is readjusting your relationship with food, relearning how to respond to hunger signals appropriately, choosing the best foods that provide your body with the best nourishment and most importantly enjoying your food.

I can guarantee you that if you adopt this mindset with your eating and physical activity patterns you will be well on your way to achieving a healthier lifestyle- permanently. No more rebounding, yo-yoing or guilt trips-I mean it- a healthier lifestyle permanently!

Now here is the tricky part- actually doing it. It’s never easy changing learned behaviour- just try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand. This is where I come in-(no not to help with the teeth brushing part!) to help with resetting these learned behaviours and helping you establish a healthier relationship with your food.

As a Dietitian I have the knowledge and skills but as an individual my greatest strength is recognizing the need for balance in your lifestyle. After all there’s no point being “thin” but terribly irritable, unhappy and hungry.

If you’re sick of going on diets and you are ready to address your diet and lifestyle permanently book into to see one of our accredited dietitians who will gladly guide you in the right direction!


Subscribe to our Boronia newsletter

Get the latest news, tips and recipes

Subscribe to our Elwood newsletter

Get the latest news, tips and recipes