Why Diet’s Don’t Work- Part 2
In Part 1 of this post we looked at the biological factors that cause diets to fail. Now we’ll take a look at the underlying psychological factors that may hinder long-term success.
A person who wants to lose weight and maintain a trim figure has a conscious desire for these things. This means they are aware of the desire. However, there may also be unconscious beliefs and fears that they hold which will cause them to struggle or fail in their endeavor to maintain weight loss. They are not aware of these. The dieter may feel perplexed as they notice ways in which they are self-sabotaging their own efforts.
There are numerous possible psychological reasons for these fears and doubts. In psychological jargon, we call this resistance. We’ll go into a few of the more common ones here, but in future blog posts I’ll go into greater depth on other types of resistance.
A common core belief and fear occurs when a person “slips” on their diet and eats a “forbidden” food. The belief is “well, I’ve messed up today so I might as well go all-in and eat whatever I want. I’ll start again tomorrow”. This belief sets the dieter up for a binge where they are likely to take in massive calories as the body strives for homeostasis.
The dieter may take in so many calories during the binge that they undermine all of their previous efforts at calorie reduction. In some cases, the body “fights back” and intense hunger and cravings ensue. It now becomes nearly impossible to return to a calorie-restricted diet. The binge may last for weeks or months.
Another common belief is “as soon as I reach my goal weight I can eat “normal” food again”. This way of thinking sets the dieter up for only short-term results. Their chances at long-term success are less than 3%.
A powerful unconscious thought is “I don’t want my parent to have the satisfaction of seeing me thin.” Many people who are overweight have had to deal with critical overbearing parents who are often commenting on their weight and food choices. While the dieter consciously wants to lose weight and feel good, they are caught up in a paradox as they unconsciously don’t want their parents to “win”.
There are literally hundreds of psychological factors a person may experience when embarking on a weight-loss journey. In traditional diets, none of these underlying factors is being addressed. The chances of long-term success are close to zero without taking a closer look at this resistance. That’s why it’s so important to work with a trained Intuitive Eating Therapist who can help you transform your core beliefs and fears.
The final piece that you must consider when working toward long-term weight loss is behavioral change. Click here for Part 3.