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Apr 17, 2011

10 Psychological Reasons Why Most Diets Fail

This post is republished by kind permission of Michael Parsons from Masters In Psychology
6a00d8341e628453ef00e54f131c3d8833-800wiDiets can be tough to keep up with, but maybe the problem isn’t you. There are many psychological reasons why most diets fail. Studies show that the idea of dieting sets us up for failure because it tricks the mind into thinking certain things are off-limits, thus triggering the desire for these things.
Among them milkshakes, pizza and other foods heavy in carbohydrates or sugar. When you’re trying to stay on track, remember these reasons why you’re likely to vere off course.
1. Diets deprive you. Unless you are making a complete lifestyle change, the initial stages of dieting feel like deprivation. You can’t have something, which for most of us, makes us crave that thing even more than we would if we were just allowing ourselves to eat normally. If you’re eating normal, you may have a square (or three) of chocolate. The day you decide to diet, you suddenly need an entire chocolate bar, plus a cookie. The deprivation kicks in and you end up making you crave the wrong foods and making poor choices.
2. Diets aren’t sustainable. Most people are yo-yo dieters. There’s a reason for this. Diets aren’t sustainable unless you are overhauling to change the ways you eat. Eating food you don’t like, food that doesn’t satisfy your hunger and not enough calories all lead to a diet going haywire. Diets are not sustainable for real life. If you have to drop pounds for a wedding, a diet may work. The meal plan, no snacking in the day and no eating after 7pm will work to drop the weight during crunch time, but unless you’re Jennifer Aniston and your career depends on your looks (and you’re being paid millions), there’s no way you’ll keep up with such antics.
3. You want instant results. We live in an age where instant gratification is the drug of choice. This has always been the case for dieters. The minute we make changes to our diet, no matter how large or small, we want to see the difference. Cutting back on the carbs will flatten your tummy, but the minute you start consuming a regular amount of bread or pasta, it will show. This makes it tough to stick with a diet for a long duration of time. Undergoing a lifestyle change that revolves around healthy food will lead to weight loss that may be slower, but will stick around long after those who follow diets have gained back the weight.
4. You aren’t losing fast enough. Maybe you get past the instant gratification phase of dieting. For some, the weight does start to drop off easily, especially if the person is young or exercising in addition to dieting. Still, even with initial success, many dieters feel they don’t lose fast enough. Making progress little by little isn’t enough, which goes against the success stories of weight loss. For sustainable weight loss, you should lose no more than 1-2 pounds a week. Unfortunately with shows like Biggest Loser boasting 7-10 pounds lost in a week, many dieters expect drastic results and quit before they’ve even given a lifestyle change a real chance.
5. You feel you can’t keep up with a healthy diet when outside of the house. In America, food is a huge part of socializing. Nearly every place we visit for fun has food available, from amusement parks to the movies. It isn’t that food is available, the problem lies in the type of food that’s available. Food that’s full of fat and sugar is available at every corner and dieters feel they can’t battle the treats when they aren’t at home.
This makes it difficult to spend time with family and friends and attend events. Dieters tend to ban restaurants from their meals, so when it’s time to celebrate grandma’s birthday at local Italian place, all healthy eating habits go out the shop window. Dieters decide to splurge for this outing and end up quitting their diets because they feel they’ve failed.
6. You don’t allow yourself mistakes. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to stop looking at an indulgent meal as a mistake or strike against your diet. You are human and bound to want a brownie or bowl of cheesy pasta every now and then. Food is to be enjoyed in moderation.
This is the key to keeping a healthy weight is to enjoy it in moderate quantities and to work in plenty of healthy foods that serve a purpose, such as fiber which keeps you full and your digestive system on track or salmon, which promotes collagen production and is packed with omega 3 fatty acids (the good fat).
7. You go in with an all or none attitude. This is a psychology that many of us use when starting a diet. We’re excited, our fridge is stocked with healthy food and the goal weight is in mind. While it’s great to be enthusiastic, it’s imperative you’re realistic about your weight loss and how fast it will happen.
Often when we go in with an all or none attitude, we end up setting ourselves up to fail. It is far smarter to make moderate changes to your diet and adjust to them little by little in order to create healthy eating habits.
8. Your last diet failed. Maybe your last diet failed. Maybe your last 10 diets failed. This can be a deterrence from trying to get fit and on track with a healthy lifestyle. You feel you’ve tried every diet out there, you’ve tried to change your eating habits and you’ve never succeeded or kept the weight off.
Psychologically, this can do a lot of damage to your success of building a healthy way of living. Forget the past and move on to working on yourself in a sustainable way that will result in a healthier you.
9. You aren’t sure how to make a real lifestyle change. Diets don’t work for everyone, but a healthy lifestyle does. Whether you’re young or old, making better choices when it comes to what goes in your body will benefit many parts of your healthy, including your waistline. If you aren’t sure how to make a real lifestyle change, you are likely to make mistakes that will lead you off track from the diet.
Do your research and be prepared to make a few mistakes, but don’t be afraid to get back on the wagon. Remember you’re making changes to your diet to lose weight, but also to reduce your chances of heart disease and diabetes.
10. You feel self-conscious when dieting. You might want to change your diet, but are afraid of the people around you constantly asking, “Are you dieting?” It’s an annoying question, but learn to deal with it if you’re going to make a lifestyle change. Depending on where you live, you may be sized up as “the healthy one,” but it’s a title you want to embrace. Don’t feel the need to lose weight quickly or give dieting tips to others.
Focus on yourself, your goals and creating healthy eating habits you can sustain in the long run. More and more people want to get healthy, so you may just inspire family members or colleagues .
There’s a reason diets don’t work for keeping the weight off in the long haul. For all of the books, online resources and weekly meetings aimed at various diet programs, only a true lifestyle change can help you get fit and keep the pounds off. It may take a few tries, but once you start to examine your meals as fuel for your body, you will eventually make wise choices that will give you energy without packing on weight.

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