Diets Don’t Work, But These Experts Explain What We Can Do Instead

No matter how we diet, it’s an uphill battle we never seem to win. But according to health and nutrition experts, here’s why conventional diets fail and the mind-blowing things you need to stop doing to feel healthier again. After all, it’s about letting the body settle at whatever weight it wants to be and having a healthier relationship with food.


The Right Dieting Model Can Be Oh-So Freeing


Marci Evans, RDN at Food & Body Image Healer, believes our culture defines health by appearance and size. But she feels that trying to control our bodies can damage our health. Counting calories, points, macros, pounds, and steps won’t quantify your health. But using a model of eating that is balanced and adequate is far more freeing and empowering, (and easier to sustain in the long run!)


Weight Doesn’t Equal Health


Rachael Hartley, RD, at Rachael Hartley Nutrition believes that weight doesn’t dictate health, so there’s no way of predicting an individual’s ideal healthy weight. Instead, she recommends building sustainable habits that aren’t built on restrictions, and allow the body to settle at whatever size it wants to be. Otherwise, you would be forcing yourself to lose weight, only to gain it back eventually.


Tune Into Your Body’s Signals


Natalie Katz, RDN, at Feeding Your Soul Nutrition noticed that clients and their families were being negatively affected by the impact of the cultural climate of weight-obsession, food-obsession, and thin-obsession. So now she focuses on promoting health and building positive relationships with food, movement, and body image, without focusing on the number on the scale. To do this, she recommends you neutralize all foods, tune into your body’s signals of fullness and hunger, and rediscover the joys of eating without worrying so much about weight. In essence, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.


Honor Your Body’s Wishes


Christy Harrison, RD, at Food Psych Programs Inc., doesn’t recommend doing elimination diets or cutting out food unless you have celiac disease or a food allergy. She believes that the diet culture is sneaky and often masks itself as “wellness” when it’s all about control and the hope of achieving physical perfection. She suggests getting to a place where you are honoring your body’s wishes as opposed to sticking to a strict diet plan or following external rules that come from strict diet plans or a “wellness” influencer on social media.


The Scale Promotes Unhealthy Attitudes


We all tend to focus way too much on the number on the scale. But Julie Duffy Dillon RD of Julie Dillon Consulting and BirdHouse Nutrition Therapy believes you can promote an unhealthy attitude towards your self-worth and your own body image if you focus on the scale. After all, you’re not worth whatever number’s on the scale, right? She uses weight inclusive and non-diet techniques to teach clients to stop thinking of food as “good or bad” and connect with their feeling of hunger, fullness, and satiety to keep their weight in check. Dillon refrains from using the scale as a measure of progress. This helps her clients focus on being healthy and not on doing anything possible to get to a certain number.


It’s Not Your Fault Diets Fail


Dana Sturtevant, RD, co-founder of Be Nourished, believes that the diet and cosmetic fitness industry has a failure rate of 95% because customers blame themselves when things go wrong instead of this flawed and old-fashioned approach to dieting. She suggests we focus more on lifestyle changes that can improve our health, even if the number on the scale doesn’t drop dramatically.


All Foods Are Created Equal


Aaron Flores, RD at Health at Every Size (HAES), and co-host of Dietitians Unplugged, says that we have to tune into what our body is telling us, like when we’re full or hungry. He also encourages us not to treat food as “good or bad” because while they’re different from a nutritional standpoint, they’re all equal on an emotional level. He also finds that it’s important to not let society’s pressure dictate how we feel about our body size. Instead, we should focus on listening to our internal body wisdom.


Live Your Best Without An Ideal Body Weight


Wendy Lopez, RD, co-founder of Food Heaven Made Easy and co-host of the Food Heaven Podcast believes you don’t have to reach a calculated ideal body weight to be healthy. She would prefer her clients to eat foods (plant-based) that have high nutritional value and promote good health instead of focusing on the number on the scale. After all, health cannot be defined by a number, right?