Why can’t I stop dieting? Why is it so hard to give up?
Every person will have a different answer, but there are a few common reasons diets and diet mentality stick around.
Something is benefiting you from dieting.
Yes. There are sneaky benefits of dieting. As much as you may read and experience firsthand about how bad diets are (how most people regain the weight, how they cause unacceptable amounts of mental stress, lead to worse health outcomes), it is likely if you are struggling with truly letting go of dieting, there is something about the diet that is benefiting you.
Here are a few reasons you might be stuck in Diet-Mode:
Familiarity and structure: It’s what you’ve known since childhood, as a teenager and now, as an adult. Diets give you structure and rules about what, when and how to eat/act around food, so you don’t know what to do if left to your own decisions. ⠀
Bonding: It’s how you bond and sustain/form relationships with your family, friends and even coworkers. Diets can act as a whole other “love language” for some families! You might not say you love each other, but will email keto recipes back and forth like no one’s business.
Coping: Being immersed in a diet and/or fitness regimen helps you forget the other uncomfortable things going on in your life- stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship problems, sick family members, and career troubles. Dieting, with its promise of weight loss, act as rose-colored glasses, making promises of a better life on the other side (after you’ve lost weight).
Planning: Diets can act as the central focus of your life- planning what to eat, eating, thinking of the next meal, going to the gym, and repeat. It keeps your busy and provides structure. This is appealing if your have chaos in other areas or your life.
Success: It is true, some people (only 5%- tops) are able to diet, lose weight, and keep it off. Maybe you’ve lost weight before, and you remember it being pretty easy, and you really remember feeling GREAT. Perhaps you see everyone around you trying the latest diet and they are losing weight and keeping it off too. These experiences are powerful and make lasting impressions on us.
Body dissatisfaction: You are not yet ready to accept your body size and shape as it is, or how it may change if you give up diets. You may think it is ok for other people, but not for yourself.
Health: You are worried your chronic health condition will worsen, or one may develop, if you give up a particular diet. You see your health as something directly controlled by your diet and exercise.
These are some of the “benefits” of dieting, and they aren’t anything to scoff at. Diets provide a ton of support in many of our day to day lives. Given how huge and pervasive our diet culture is, honestly, there is no escaping it.
That’s why it’s natural and normal to feel resistance to letting diets go. ⠀ ⠀
When we stop our diet and diet behavior- we are losing something important to us. We have to figure out what that is.⠀ ⠀
It might be worth asking yourself: how did my diets benefit me? What kinds of answers do you find? ⠀
Only when we can see the pro and cons for diets clearly, does it become an easier choice to let go. You will have to do the work to correct and overcome your personal barriers.