Not Happy With Your Body? A Diet Is NOT the Answer!

This post was inspired after another conversation with a friend. They shared with me that they are not happy with their body and need to start another diet. Interestingly enough, they had only got off another diet a few months ago! It saddens me to see and hear the number of people who are not happy in their own skin and are continually lured in to the “quick fix” diet mentality. However, one thing will continue to go on for years is this diet cycle, unless they choose to break it.


What does “Diet” Mean?

There are many definitions of diet, including –

  • “a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.” ~ Google
  • “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats” and “A special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.” ~ Oxford Dictionaries
  • “food and drink regularly provided or consumed” and “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • “a particular selection of food, especially as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease” ~

What I am referring to in this post are the diet definitions related to restricting food to reduce weight or improve health.


What are some Diet Behaviours?

Diet behaviours can be conscious or un-conscious. Some of these behaviours include –

  • Strictly following a diet (i.e. a points system, low carbohydrates or no-sugar),
  • Counting carbohydrate grams,
  • Limiting carbohydrates,
  • Eating “proper” food in public and then eating anything when no-one is watching,
  • Competing with someone else who is dieting,
  • Eating only perceived “safe” or “good” foods (i.e. fat-free or low-calorie foods),
  • Eating only at certain times of the day (i.e. not eating after 8pm),
  • Cutting back on food,
  • Paying a price for eating a “bad” food (i.e. skipping the next meal or doing extra exercise),
  • Manipulating hunger by drinking coffee of diet drinks,
  • Second-guessing or judging what you deserve to eat and
  • Becoming a vegetarian or gluten-free for the sole purpose of losing weight.


The Dieter’s Dilemma

The Dieter’s Dilemma was created by John P. Foreyt and G. Ken Goodrick and was shared in their book Living Without Dieting. The dieter’s dilemma begins with the desire to be thin and/or lose weight which leads to dieting. Dieting leads to feeling deprived, which causes cravings, reduced self-control and the overwhelming urge to eat. This leads to overeating or binging. Afterwards, the dieter feels out of control, guilty and starts dieting again to regain control. And the cycle continues.

How do You Break the Cycle?

The first step to breaking the dieter’s dilemma is to reject the diet mentality and start learning how to eat mindfully and intuitively. Commit to a non-diet approach.

However, just in case you need some research on diets and the fact they don’t work over the long-term, a review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “A Review of Interventions that Promote Eating by Internal Cues,” summarizes the research so well that it is worth quoting directly:

“…traditional diets that restrict energy [calories], or particular nutrients, to induce weight loss have achieved little long term success. These programs have high attrition rates; participants rarely maintain weight loss and sometimes gain back even more weight than they lost during the program. In fact, there is evidence that frequency of dieting is directly associated with weight gain. In addition to being an ineffective means to weight loss, dieting is a well-established risk factor for unhealthy weight control behaviors, binge eating and bulimic pathology, and eating disorders. Frequency of dieting is also associated with negative psychological attributes such as body dissatisfaction, depression, lower self-esteem and negative effect.”

The full list of intuitive eating studies are here.


What is a Non-Diet Approach?

A non-diet approach is as it suggests – not dieting. The non-diet approach embraces the Health At Every Size® paradigm, mindful and intuitive eating.

The foundation of the non-diet approach is built on three things – intuitive eating, no restrictions (yes you read that correctly) and allowing you to re-establish a compassionate and accepting relationship with both food and your body.

The non-diet approach respects the fact that the body knows best when it comes to eating, food, self-care, movement, rest and weight. Professionals who are committed to the non-diet approach, work with people to help them reconnect with their internal wisdom, so they can identify which individual health-related behaviours will best help them to optimise their own health and wellbeing.

You can click here to see a graphic comparing the differences between the diet and non-diet approach.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to the diet approach and why I choose to focus on a non-diet approach in my nutritional coaching programs.

If you would like more information on how to change your relationship with food and your body, so you can truly nourish your health and wellbeing, please comment below, look at our nutrition and wellbeing coaching or contact us 🙂 Also – you are invited to download the free 10-minute mindful eating exercise here.



Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive Eating – A Revolutionary Program that Works. New York, USA: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Foreyt, J., & Goodrick, K, (1994). Living Without Dieting – A Revolutionary Guide to Everyone Who Wants to Lose Weight. New York, USA: Grand Central Publishing.


  • Mark

    Reply Reply April 27, 2019

    Another great post! Working as a personal trainer I found out that ‘diet’ originates from Greek and translates as ‘way of being’. Helping clients adjust their ‘way of being’ (sleep, hydration, stress management, mindset, movement etc) was so much more effective and transformative that trying to have them simply eat less

    • Jane

      Reply Reply April 28, 2019

      Thanks Mark for taking the time to comment! One of the online etymology sources says that diet is “to regulate one’s diet for the sake of health” It’s interesting all of the meanings, however ultimately it is up to each individual to decided what is best for themselves. Personally I do not encourage people to follow diets.

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