A recent survey* on dieting indicated that people try on average 162 diets over the course of their lives. That is two diets a year on average. Are you surprised?
While the number is eye-opening, here are some other shocking results of this survey:
- 16% indicated they would drink 12 glasses of lemon juice daily if it led to weight loss.
- 1 in 20 would eat a tapeworm.
- People were also willing to eat ice every day, drink olive oil between meals, or eat baby food.
- Half of those surveyed consult Google for diet information, not a health professional.
- 10% admitted they usually try their current favorite celebrity’s go-to diet.
- People quit diets after an average of 6 days.
- 1 in 5 say that they don’t know where to find reliable health and diet information.
- Chocolate, bread, and pasta were the top foods that people didn’t want to stop eating (or found too difficult to give up).
- People admitted experiencing fatigue (21%), weakness (29%), and headaches (26%) as a result of dieting.
Why do we try dieting over and over again? Why are we willing to go to such extraordinary and painful lengths to be thinner? Why do we keep trying the same thing hoping for different results?
In part, we hold onto fad dieting because of the illusionary promise of diets. They promise something that is not truly obtainable but sounds enticing: a different body and a different reality. In particular, fad diets present this simple equation:
Fad diets = weight loss = happiness
We have to start with understanding the many flaws in this equation. What I have found from working with hundreds of people is that this equation is more accurate:
Dieting = Fighting natural body cues and hunger = unhappiness and disordered eating
If not dieting, then what? An alternative path is mindful eating and intuitive eating. Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes. It is about learning to listen to your hunger and respond to it consciously rather than fighting or ignoring it. The chart below describes the difference.
It's time to end dieting and start listening to our bodies. Let's stop promoting diet culture which preaches the need to be thin at all costs. Instead, accept, appreciate, and most importantly, listen mindfully to your body.