Diets Don’t Work

August 13, 2008

Oftentimes, my clients come to me asking for a diet to help them to lose weight. They seem to believe that even though they’ve tried hundreds of diets in the past, this one will finally work. Their hopefulness of yet another diet (to fail at) is incredible.

This type of repetitive behavior actually goes against psychological theories on positive reinforcement (behaviors that are positively reinforced are strengthened and increased in frequency) and extinction (behaviors that are not reinforced are weakened).

In the case of dieting, the behavior (self-deprivation), often results in cravings; feelings of guilt and loss of control if diet “rules” are broken; as well as numerous other physical, psychological, and emotional effects. After some initial weight loss, weight is often regained. So, why would someone continue the dieting behavior, when they are not being reinforced positively for their efforts?

Most dieters often get caught up in a cycle….they have a desire to lose weight or be thin; they diet; they start to get cravings; they give in to cravings and overeat; they regain lost weight (and often more!); and finally, they start another diet.

My goal as a nutrition therapist, is to help individuals release themselves from the diet mentality and to get out of the diet cycle; to learn to have a more peaceful relationship with food and themselves; to learn to trust their bodies’ signals about eating; and to live a happier, healthier life. 🙂


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