Why Don’t I Diet?

Simple: There isn’t a proven, permanent method of weight loss that works for all (or even most) people.

Yes, most dieters lose 5-10% of their body weight in the first few months.  They then regain some or all in the long term.   This has been shown by a number of studies, including studies run by diet companies. (PDF)  Depending on how long dieters are tracked after the study, usually 1/3 to 2/3 end up regaining all they lost, plus more.

So the real question isn’t, “Should I lose weight?” The real question is, “Would a small, possibly temporary weight loss be worth it to me, and how much do I think I will regain?  Do I think I will sustain a net loss, or will this just result in me weighing even more than I do now?”

I’m not saying people may not decide to go for it, and there are people who essentially “win the lottery” and both achieve and maintain a huge weight loss. But it’s not as simple as “Oh, I’m going to lose weight now”.

In my case, I also have a proven history; every diet has resulted in me weighingmore than when I started.  Every one.  In fact, my weight gain as an adult has ALL been related to either clinical depression or dieting.  Sobering?  Yes.  But that is my history and ignoring it won’t magically make diets work any better.

Thanks to Elizabeth Patch for sharing this great poster!

Further Reading:

  • Health at Every Size: New Hope for Obese Americans?, by Marcia Wood, published in the March 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.  Highlights a 1-year study with 1-year followup comparing HAES with dieting.  The dieters lost weight initially but gained it all back by the 2-year mark.
  • Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD.  Very readable discussion of healthy living and intuitive eating, but also discusses the research on dieting (and how it fails) in detail.  About Linda Bacon -o-   Book Website -o- Available on Amazon.com -o- My review is here.

6 thoughts on “Why Don’t I Diet?

  1. Yahoo! I needed to read this today! I’m tired of feeling guilty for eating. And for being fat. For the record, I think I have revenge fat. I really need to blog about that…

    hugs,
    Susie

  2. So the real question isn’t, “Should I lose weight?”

    Something that often gets lost.

    In fact, my weight gain as an adult has ALL been related to either clinical depression or dieting. Sobering?

    The fact that it is not normal for most people to do this equation goes to show just what a grip weight loss dieting has on our mentality.

    Years ago, I honestly thought this would become the norm, because it’s about evaluation of a “treatment”. But no, people are told to keep dieting, regardless.

    You know those people who say things like, “is there such a thing as too fat?”

    We should ask them things like “is there any amount of weight you can gain before it becomes acceptable to say no to weight loss dieting?”

  3. Amen. I am past 60 now, with cerebral palsy & arthritis. Now that I have passed menopause &, while still active, can no longer push my body to work out for 4 hours every damn day, not only has my body composition changed somewhat & lost some degree of muscle tone, I am also the heaviest I have ever been (about 210-220 pounds at 5’6″). I take care of my home, I shop with my son, I babysit for my granddaughter 4-6 days of every week, wrestle with her, lift her over my shoulder, play with her, I walk every day between 40 & 90 minutes. My overall organic health is still good, I look much younger than my age, I am still independent, though I do usually use a cane for support on my walks. I have been part of fat acceptance for over 30 years now. Yet still, every so often, when it is harder for me to do some things & the chronic pain is more painful than usual, I think maybe I should lose weight. And actually, there was one very bad, cold, icy winter about 20 years ago when I was as heavy as I am now for maybe two-three months; however, I was 20 years younger, & there was no change in my mobility level or the amount of pain I had, which was very little 20 years ago. As we got into Spring & Summer & I was able to add my usual outdoor exercise to what I had been able to do over the winter in the house, my weight dropped somewhat. However, what I was able to do was no different & no harder at my highest weight than it has been over the years when my weight was usually somewhere between 180-190, nor was it noticeably different than when I was a teenager, considered terribly fat at 155-160 pounds, the non-dieting weight I maintained until such things as repeated dieting, pregnancy & nursing, aging & menopause caused those numbers to most likely be forever out of reach for me.

    NO, there IS no such thing as ‘too fat” to give up dieting for good, no such thing as ‘too fat’ for life, love, movement, & full rights & full participation in the world around you. Whatever problems you have will not be solved & most likely will only be exacerbated by dieting. I only wish that we could put between $60 billion & $100 billion per year back into the pockets of those who are brainwashed by the culture & the media, & I wish for all of us self-esteem, inner peace, a positive body image, & a comfortable, relaxing relationship with our size & with food. It is a goal toward which I keep working every day.

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