Nourished & Free: The Podcast

Why Diets Don't Work + What to Do Instead

January 03, 2023 Michelle Yates, MS, RD, LMNT Episode 20
Nourished & Free: The Podcast
Why Diets Don't Work + What to Do Instead
Show Notes Transcript

For women who want to lose weight, the first reaction is to go on a diet. But do diets work for weight loss long term? Spoiler: NO!

Why do these diets NEVER WORK? It feels like every time we lose weight as the result of a diet, we end up gaining it all back (sometimes with interest).

I'm talking about the science of what that is and what we can do instead to save us all the heartache that dieting brings.

Instead of throwing your hands up in the air a few months from now, let's save you the stress on the front end. Take a listen and get ready to find out why diets don't work and what to do instead!

Read the article associated with this episode here.

Topics covered πŸ‘‡ 

  • Definition of a diet [1:45]
  • Media’s impact on dieting [3:39]
  • How we view our bodies [6:39]
  • Statistics of dieting and the diet industry [9:03]
  • The reason why diets fail  [11:52]
  • Why am I binge eating still if I'm not on a diet? [16:35]
  • The binge-restrict cycle [18:16]
  • What to do instead of dieing [20:15]
  • How to spot a diet [23:11]

πŸ”₯ My Signature 4-Month Program, Nourished & Free
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So if I'm going to talk about diets and why they fail,

I need to define diets.

So there's kind of two different ways to talk about diets,

there's the adjective and then there's the verb,

we're going to get into some english here.

So the adjective of a diet is like,

what does your diet look like,


It's like,

what is the composition of your diet day to day,

week to week,


month in your lifetime?

What does your diet include?

And then there's the verb which is that we're going on a


we're going to diet,

we are dieting and that can mean more like

I'm restricting foods.

I'm staying away from certain foods in order to reach a

certain goal.

Typically that's weight loss,


Usually we diet to lose weight,

but there's also dieting for medical conditions,

which has its place.

But what I want to talk about is the dieting for weight

loss because that's really where we see it the most often,

and especially with the new year,

that's where we're usually running into it as something that we want to



And something that we're vulnerable to and thinking,

should I do this,

maybe I can do it in a way that will actually work this time.


And so that's really what I want to speak to


My title as a dietitian means that I'm

studying the field of what people eat and how it impacts

them and how nutrition plays into our health,


So just because the word diet exists does not always mean that we're talking about going on a diet.

And so there's different ways to use that,

but for the purpose of today,

we're going to be talking about dieting to lose weight.


So so how did this even,

I mean start dieting to lose weight And I don't have

an answer for that because I'm not God,

but I can say that media has a huge

impact on us and on our decisions

to view our bodies a certain way.

There's this really fascinating study that was done on the Fiji

islands and this is an older study.

It was done,

the data was collected in 1998,

but I think that it's it's really

interesting in terms of what it's pointing to and what it suggests.

And so what they,

what these researchers did was they went to a rural community

in Western Fiji and this was

before they had the television.

And so they looked at them,

they took some data before the television was introduced and then the

television was brought to the island and

they just kind of sat and observed and they took note of what was


They took more data and what they found was that after

the television came to the Fiji Islands,

particularly adolescent girls,

school aged girls,

they were engaging in

weight and body shape preoccupation,

they were purging they were trying to control their weight.

Um They were really doing these things to try and

change how they looked because what they saw on television was

mostly these American shows which at the time,

I mean think about 1998,


Like the women on TV in 1998 were very thin and

so before seeing this in the media,

these women,

these girls were not really struggling with this and then they

started to see it on tv and they wanted to look like that

and so they started to manipulate their diet to try and get to that point.

And so I mean when you think about it too,

we've all been in a history class where you

see sculptures of women who are very curvy,

very thick and and that is considered beautiful in

the renaissance ages and in the middle ages and everything.

So I mean just we've come so far from that and

it's like if you think about it,

that was kind of their version of the media,

like art was their media.

And so if we always have curvy,

voluptuous women in our media,

I wonder what would happen to our eating habits

and our preoccupation with our body,

would we not want,

would we not value that more?

And of course,

you know,

I hear this a lot,

maybe you don't,

but historically women who were curvy er

during times of famine,

they were actually viewed as more beautiful because it was a sign of

wealth and so when we

Look at today,

what we see is that now being ultra thin is a sign of

wealth and heading into 2023,

it's sad,

we kind of went away from that super skinny early two

thousand's look and then we shifted more into the muscular


kind of curvy look,

still unattainable for a lot of people,

but it was a little bit of a shift and now we're kind of back to that rail


skinny look of the early 2000 and so it's a bummer because once


if you see somebody who's real thin,

we kind of have this perception of like,

oh they must be like we kind of,

we put a higher status on them,


And I was actually listening to a podcast recently.

It's called Soundbites,

highly recommended and the guest that was on,

it was Eileen Lashinsky and she,

she said something along the line,

I can't remember word for word,

but she said something along the lines of how our bodies are

our currency and I thought that was so impactful and

so powerful to think about,


It's like we think that certain body shapes and

sizes and looks are so,

I mean we worship them and then the opposite of that is like,

I don't,

I don't care,

you don't get to have an opinion,

You don't have any value,

you don't have any say.

And I just think that's a really interesting way of thinking about it

is that somebody's body shape or size could

literally be a currency for them,

it could literally be causing them to,

I mean there's actually studies on this that certain like the thin ideal,

they actually make more money,

they get more opportunities,

they get more attention from the opposite sex,

They have all these things that the opposite of the

thin ideal doesn't get.

And so Really interesting to think about.

And so of course when we see that going on in our culture,

in our society,

if we don't have that perfect body,

we want to get it.

And so that's why we diet and that's why we try to lose weight is because we want to be

revered and valued and loved and worshiped,


And so as a result of this,

the weight loss market in 2021

was valued at $73


which is absolute madness.

But also not surprising because this is

attacking our self esteem,

this is attacking our self worth,

that's painful.

And if we feel so vulnerable

and feel like our whole life is ruined because of our


of course we're going to go try the latest diet,

of course we're going to pay money to some dieting program that

promises us health and happiness makes total sense,


And so I want to talk today about why this industry

is pretty messed up And why in 2023 you shouldn't

really bother with it because it's actually shown to

increase your chance of weight gain,

which is very,

very intelligently designed.

Now some dietitians will say 095% of people who diet will

gain the weight back.

I have tried very hard to find that

statistic and I can't seem to find something

that supports that that's more current than 1958.

So I'm not going to sit here and say 95% of diets fail.


it's no secret that they do have a high failure rate,

whatever that rate is.

And just by how many people reach out to me every

single day,

especially women and say I have dieted and I always

lost weight,

but then I gained it back and then I lost weight again and then I gained it back.

And there's this really interesting tear of the first time we diet,

we lose a lot of weight,

but then we gain it back and then the next time we diet we still lose weight but not as much as the first time and then we

gain it back.

And then the third time we gain we lose some weight but not as much as the time

before and definitely not as much as the first time and then we gain it back.

And a lot of times there's even weight gained plus interest and so

not only do we lose weight but actually gain it back plus more than we lost

and I've heard this plenty to know like I don't need a

statistic to know that this is a problem in our culture and in our

society and I was I mean that was my problem


was that every time I lost weight I would gain it back.

And so Yes,

it's definitely I don't need a statistic of 95

in front of me to agree that the majority of diets fail

and we gain the weight back and a lot of times we gain back more.

And I want to talk about why that is so there's some really interesting

theories out there and literature that shows that our body actually

resists losing weight when it's the results of

this extreme calorie restriction that we see with dieting.

And I mean,

of course we lose weight on the front end,


Like we've all been there where we went on a crash diet,

we lost weight,

but but we've also all been there where we gained it back.

And so these diets,

they do a really great job of helping us lose weight,

but they do a really crappy job of helping us keep it off.

And that's because it doesn't take into account all of these different mechanisms in

our body that kick in that are really honestly just trying to keep us

alive and our body what it comes down to is that our body doesn't know

the difference between us being on a diet for the sake of vanity and wanting to

lose Β£20 by the summer so that we can have a bikini body,

it doesn't know the difference between that versus starving in a desert

and either way,

what it's registering is I don't have enough food available,


Because when we go on these diets,

let's say we're on weight watchers are actually weight watchers is not

the most popular right now.

I would say like I'm gonna use Octavia as an example because I really hate

Octavia and it is popular.

So Let's say we're on Octavia and we're having about 800 calories a day.

But really what that person needs to eat is about 2000 calories a day.

That is less than 50% of what that person needs.

And so you better believe that their body is registering that as a starvation

situation and that that person doesn't have enough access to food.

And so what happens is that we might lose weight In the beginning phases.

Um but over time the body starts to fight back

and it does this in a few different ways.

# one it slows the metabolic rate down.

This is called thermodynamic adaptation.

And basically we become more

efficient at utilizing energy.

So calories of course our energy and when

we don't have a lot of access to calories,

our body wants to make sure that the calories we do have access to are not used up

too quickly.

So we're more efficient and what that means

is that our metabolism slows down And so with the

metabolic rate slowing down,

we're preserving more fat?

And that's usually where we see like a plateau.

The second thing is that we actually have an increase in biological

cravings for food.

And this isn't a variety of different ways.

So we,

first of all can see a decrease in the hormones that facilitate those

feelings of fullness.

So if we have a decrease in the hormones that make us feel full,

then that means it's going to be harder for us to feel full.

So we take in more food,


And then vice versa.

We also have an increase in those hunger cravings and in those hunger hormones.

So it is more likely that we're going to feel


And then my favorite part of all of this is that we actually have a hormone specific to

craving carbohydrates which is called neuro peptides.

And we do have an increased craving for carbohydrates because there's more of that

released more of that hormone released when we're in states of starvation and it makes

sense because carbohydrates are the body's primary source of fuel.

And so if we're in a state of starvation that our body really wants to drive us to have its favorite source of


which is of course carbohydrates.

And so hopefully this is all starting to kind of click when you think about

how every time you go on a diet you're like,

why do I suddenly want bread so badly?

Why is it that I'm dreaming of sandwiches and pizza and and

baguettes and bread bowls and all these things.

It's actually not your fault.

It really is biology coming into play.

And honestly,

just trying to help you out.

And the third thing is that there is also this connect between our brain and our body

that is psychologically making us think of food more,

and that's again,

trying to drive us to just eat right.

If it's on our mind,

if it's on the forefront of our brain,

then surely we're going to go do the thing that's on the forefront of our brain,

which is go eat the food.

But in the state of dieting we try to white

knuckle through it,

we try to tell ourselves we can make it through.


even though I'm thinking about this food,

I'm dreaming about this food,

I'm going to make it through without eating it

because I'm determined to lose these last Β£5, right.

And so at this point,

you might be thinking while I don't go on these like

formal diet plans,

I'm not doing after via,

I'm not doing a low carb diet,

I'm not on keto,

I'm not even restricting myself to 1200 calories a day,

but I still struggle with binge eating and I still struggle

with giving into food cravings and I don't know what's wrong with me?


And so there's something that I want you to hear if that's true for you,

which is that your body,

even if you're not necessarily on a formal diet,

it still will register the message of,


I'm in a starvation state or I am not going to have

access to this tomorrow.

It's still will get that message if you are

restricting anything or just think that you should be restricting something.

So maybe you still allow yourself to have pizza.

But if in your mind,

you're like,

I really shouldn't be eating this before you even have the pizza.

Your brain is registering,


I'm not going to be able to have that tomorrow because well,

because you just told yourself you're not going to have it tomorrow.

And so it wants it all the more because you are putting yourself into the

circumstance of food scarcity,

even though maybe you're not necessarily on a formal diet just

because you're deciding I shouldn't be having that kind of food around

or I feel guilty for eating this or shamed for eating this tomorrow.

I'm going to try not to do this again what your body hears when you're doing

that is well,

I better get it in now.

Better go for it now because I'm not going to have access to it again.

So we get in this cycle right of

I want to lose weight.

That's usually how it starts.

So I'm going to start to restrict or go on a diet or both.

And so when we restrict,

then our body gets all these messages like,


I don't actually have access to food.

Like I usually do now,

I'm starving.

Um and I'm going to drive you to get more food.

I'm gonna drive you to make up for what we've lost and get me back to that point that I used to be at

because that's where I was actually able to function properly.

And so then we are driven towards food,

we end up binge eating,

we feel out of control,

we gain all the way back and then a lot of times we end up gaining more weight

back than we lost because we slowed our metabolism


So now it takes less food for us to be in a surplus of


a surplus of energy intake compared to what we're burning and

so we can hopefully you're starting to see the puzzle pieces fit together of

why every time we diet,

the weight comes back and it comes back with


And so I'm hoping that for you,

if you're listening to this and you're like,

oh my gosh,

this is making so much sense.

Now I understand that it was never me.

That was the problem.

It was the diet,

that's the problem.

I'm hoping that you can feel a sense of freedom and a sense of okay.

Now I know that that's not the answer for me doing these diets is not the answer for me.

It doesn't matter that it worked for me the first time or that it it does

typically maybe produce a little bit of weight loss in the beginning because I know what

happens next and I know that that cycle is going to continue.

And every time I keep myself in that cycle it

gets worse and worse and worse because my metabolism is getting more and more broken

and I'm only going to end up at a higher weight than I

ever was to begin with.

So what do we do instead?


What do we do if our culture is so obsessed with having

a thin body or a kim Kardashian body or whatever the popular thing is at the

time and we don't look like that,

what are we supposed to do or what are we supposed to do?

And our doctor tells us you need to lose weight in order to fix your blood panel

or or reverse your diabetes or whatever it is.

And really what I've come to in my own

story and just in research in and working with clients is that

intuitive eating really is the best solution here because it's listening and honoring

our body's cues.

It's taking away the restriction mode that drives us into a slowed

metabolism and binge eating,

which of course is not going to help us if we're trying to lose weight and

it's deciding,

you know what I'm done,

I'm done doing the things that are just giving the diet industry more

money that will only make me gain more weight in the end.

Because if my goal is to lose weight,

that doesn't make any sense.

Why am I doing something that's going to actually make me gain weight down the road?

Also just wait aside,

Why am I doing something that makes me miserable?

Why am I doing something that makes me obsessed with food?

And that takes up so much mental real estate to the point where I can't focus on things in

my life that make me happy and bring me joy and make my heart


If I can't focus on those things,

then why am I even on this earth?

That is the beauty of intuitive eating is that it allows you to really listen to what your

body is requesting and what your body is requesting is what's best

for your body because again,

it wants you to survive and not only doesn't want you to survive,

it wants you to thrive.

And I think that's something that we miss a lot is that we think our

bodies are trying to ruin us.

We think it doesn't want us to have the dream body that we have in our mind.

Um and it doesn't really,

it doesn't care.

Um but it really doesn't want you to thrive.

It wants you to function at your optimum.

And that's the way that it was intelligently designed and so if we really do pay

attention to the cues that have been given to us,

then we're serving our bodies and we don't have to worry

about changing them.

This is how we reverse chronic diseases.

This is how we find a healthy weight and stay there.

This is how we stop obsessing over food and find freedom so that we can focus

on what actually matters in our life and making a positive impact in the


And there are so many nuances when it comes to our health and wellness and


But today I really did just want to talk more about why dieting doesn't make

sense for you.

Dieting to lose weight doesn't make any sense because all it does in the end,

it makes us gain weight.

So why are we doing it?

Why do we continue to fall for the trap over and over again?

And I do want to say that the diet industry has started to pick up on


They've started to pick up on how people know this and they're paying attention to this.

And so they've changed the language and their marketing to say that they're not a

diet and instead they're a lifestyle change.

But the way that you can spot a diet in this day

and age when they know that the word diet is kind of taboo now is

if it's telling you to restrict,

if it's telling you to restrict,

it's the same thing at the end of the day where it's putting our body into that state

of scarcity and starvation and it's only going to drive us to food

more at the end of the day.

And so I can't encourage you enough

to dive into intuitive eating.

If you've never done it before,

what do you have to lose?

And if you have done it before,

how much of a shot did you give it?

Did you really talk with a professional about applying it to your life


Sometimes reading the book is not enough.

If you've read the book,

sometimes you really have to work with somebody to make sure that it's personalized to you

and your specific life circumstance,

all of us are wired differently and we need different things.

We learn in different ways.

And so if it hasn't worked for you in the past,

maybe it still can and we just need to try a different approach.

Um so I hope this was helpful for you If you want to learn more about

working with me through your intuitive eating journey,

I will put a link in the show notes about how we can take that step forward together

if that's the right move for you.

And if you found this episode enjoyable or impactful,

if you learned something from this episode,

please leave me a quick five stars and that will help it to be found by more

people who probably need to hear this message today and know that

going on the diet tomorrow is actually a terrible idea.

And so you might potentially be saving somebody from making that bad decision just by leaving

me a quick five star review so that I can be found by more people.

I hope you have an amazing 2023

I can't thank you all enough for how you've supported my small business

really over the last year.

It's been about a year since I launched this podcast.

And whatever avenue it is that that you are connected to me,

whether you just listen to this podcast,

maybe you follow me on instagram,

you are on my email list,

you are friends with me on facebook,

you have been a client of mine,

You are a client of mine.

You hope to be a client of mine,

whatever it is,

maybe a colleague of mine,

I just want you to know that I'm really,

really thankful for you and I wouldn't be here doing the work that I'm passionate about

without you and without all of you who have given me kind

words and shown me that this work is important just by the words that

you've said and the results that you've had through us working together.

So I'm really grateful for you all I hope you found this message impactful today

and let's have a good 2023 with no diets