Being on a diet seems to be the norm of society. And if you’re a woman and have never been on a diet, you’re a very rare breed. Society bombards you with messages that diets will help you achieve the perfect body, lose weight, and basically solve all of life’s problems. However, diets are extremely hard to sustain. Sustaining weight loss from a diet is practically impossible and here is why it is so hard to stay on a diet as well as why diets do not work.

Diet’s create the up and down weight loss and gain associated with a yo-yo. You start a diet, think this is the way to achieve your weight loss goals and may indeed lose weight. But then the hunger and deprivation set in and you end up saying, “the hell with it.”

You eat forbidden foods so that in time the weight comes back, often even more than what was lost. Ironically, diets only work for 5% of the population. Most likely, you’re like me, one of the 95% that diets don’t work for because it’s practically impossible to stay on a diet.

Can you relate?

Here are 7 reasons why it’s so hard to stay on a diet.

1. Diets create an all or nothing, good or bad approach to food. You don’t need to treat food this way. Food is energy, nutrition, and sustenance that you can enjoy.  Did you know that you’re to enjoy food?

2. Diets are isolating. Face it, it’s hard to be social when you’re on a diet. Food is often such a big part of social gatherings or events. Your diets limitations create a challenge to socially engage. Therefore, it is often easier to avoid or miss out on social connections.

Even more isolating is when you feel it’s not even worth being social due to food temptations. So, disengagement is the solution.

3. Diets fail when you don’t hit your goals fast enough. You may be doing everything right and yet the weight is simply not coming off, or worse, you’re actually gaining! So, you give up and feel defeated, once again.

4.Sometimes diets don’t work because your goal of losing a certain amount of weight may be too extreme. Your goals set you up to fail right from the get-go. Alternatively, be willing to lose just a little bit each week so you can look back over months or a year and see all the progress.

5. Hunger is a huge reason why it’s so hard to stay on a diet. Our bodies do not like being hungry or even worse, going into starvation mode. Hunger affects your mood, your sleep, and your relationships. I know personally that I’m not very warm and fuzzy when I’m “hangry”. Can you relate to feeling “hangry” and how that might impact the people around you?

6. There are underlying neglected emotional reasons. Diets are basically about less calories and more exercise or the complete removal of an entire food group, like carbs.

However, it’s the underlying feelings of shame, perfectionism, depression, anxiety, or unprocessed trauma that are usually the real demons hindering weight loss.

Emotional reasons for eating don’t magically disappear with a diet. Your relationship to food needs to change, not simply your food choices.

Addressing shame attached to food choices, another failed diet, and experiences from your past are essential. Your issues with food are not really about food!

The underlying emotional issues are what haunt your progress and cut you right out at the knees. If those emotional issues are not addressed, success in sustainable weight loss will be very hard to accomplish.

7. Finally, it’s very hard to stay on a diet because the restrictive mindset simply cannot be sustained. Diets do not encourage an everyday lifestyle. They are usually short term for quick results. In addition, cutting out food groups like sugar or carbs for the rest of your life is not practical.

Hunger, deprivation, isolation, all or nothing thinking, removing entire food groups (unless it’s an allergy) is not sustainable. Diets are just not sustainable and therefore you will fail 95% of the time.

Here is a question: Why would you continue to engage in something that you’re doomed to fail?

Probably because you’re desperate for results.

Interestingly, as hard as you may try to diet and lose weight, your brain is actually working against you and it’s a fight that only 5% seem to be able to conquer.

The brain plays a very important role in why you’re not seeing more success.

Stephan Guyenet, PhD, author of “The Hungry Brain”, states the brain will fight the body over weight loss .The body is regulated by the brain and has a “set point” or what I call a “landing place”.

Guyenet says there is a classic starvation response when you try to lose weight. Your brain will literally increase hunger and intensify cravings. Your metabolism will slow down in order to conserve energy therefore, any food you eat will be stored in fat just in case you need that energy to survive.

In the book, “Why Diets Make Us Fat”, author Sandra Aamodt, PhD, adds that “when weight changes too much, your brain will intervene to push it back to what it thinks is the correct weight for you.”

Your brain literally sabotages all your efforts which is why it is so frustrating to get on that scale and see the number go up after all that hard work and doing the diet “right”.

Your brain really does know what is best. Ignoring this truth is a huge reason why it’s so hard to stay on a diet.

I think it is safe to say fighting your own brain is pretty futile. Your brain knows the right landing place for your body. All your efforts to manipulate and control your weight are driving you crazy and making you feel like a helpless failure.

Stop the yo-yo cycle and let go of the diet mentality. Diets are so hard to stay on for all these reasons so perhaps it’s time to try something new. I highly recommend replacing the diet mentality with a mindful approach.

Mindfulness vs Diets

Mindfulness is about raising your awareness over all aspects of your body and life without any judgment or shame. It’s noticing what works and doesn’t work for your body, mind and soul.

Diets don’t work because you have to detach your head form your body. You have to stop listening to your body and only pay attention to what your head is telling you as far as what you are allowed to have.

It’s hard to stay on a diet because it removes your ability to trust your body knows what it needs, wants, and how much.

I teach mindfulness  is achieved when you attach your head to your body. In so doing, you learn to trust that your body knows what it needs and wants. When you’re mindful and eating according to awareness vs rules, you learn to let go of unwanted or unneeded weight.

This creates a new landing place where your body is comfortable and healthy. Not hungry, starving, or storing fat for a rainy day.

Mindfulness repairs that and empowers you to eat without shame or guilt. Mindfulness lets your body guide you, whereas a diet tells you food is good or bad or worse, that you’re bad for eating certain foods.

Now you can see why it’s so hard to stay on a diet and there is an alternative.

Imagine being able to listen and trust your body, eat mindfully without shame or guilt and lose weight all in the process. This mindset is not a quick fix. This is a lifestyle and a relationship with food and your body that can be sustained and maintained the rest of your life.

Lesley Goth, PsyD has created Women’s Sustainable Weight Loss Intensive. She works with women helping them get rid of the diet mentality, learn mindfulness tools and skills while also digging deep into the emotional reasons that hinder their long-term progress. For more information please reach out here.