Why Diets Fail

Why Diets FailRegistered Dietitians like myself have been trained to be able to calculate any meal’s calories, discern healthful foods over less healthy choices and create diet and meal plans at the drop of a hat.

After a while- like years …,you discover that- diets don’t work.

When I say diets- I don’t mean therapeutic diets like a gluten free diet for celiac disease, or the FODmaps diet for Irritable Bowel, or a diabetic diet or cardiac diet. Those diets are medically warranted and do make a difference in the health and wellness of people suffering from chronic diseases.

I mean diets which take out food groups or limit calories to such a low level they are hard to sustain. These diets do tame erratic eating behavior by dictating what to eat when- but can only be held for so long. In fact, many dieters who lose weight, end up putting back lost pounds and then some more.

Why diets do not work, is explained in a recent article in Scientific American Mind on “Don’t Diet” by Charlotte Markey (1). Once people fall off a diet plan they may hit the “what the heck” effect and binge to compensate.

Diets are also stressful- cortisol a stress hormone-is higher in those who feel guilty about “going off their diets”.

Take the example of Liza- Liza and I have worked together for the last 3 months and she has maintained a 10 pound weight loss during that time. She has said to me- I am somewhat surprised I haven’t lost more weight by this time. But I am making excellent food choices and I am not binging any more. Liza is not following a restrictive diet. She does not get intense cravings from deprivation. Because she can have foods she wants- foods are not forbidden, she ends up not even wanting those foods. Knowing you can have something often makes it possible to not have it!


Small changes allow one to adjust to new routines at a slower pace. How do we know this works? The National Weight Loss Registry has followed 4,000 people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year. People who plan their meals, eat breakfast and monitor their intake from time to time and maintain moderate exercise routines do well.

Slow and steady wins the race!


No matter what: Recognize that often when we focus on the diet, we end up discouraged and cause more stress to our lives.


If you have questions about picky eaters in children, please feel free to contact Emma for your Expert Nutritional Personal, Professional, Team Building orCorporate needs.  Contact Emma Fogt here.