Want to know the best way to gain weight? Go on a diet. Sad, but depending upon the diet, this is sometimes scientifically true.
In a review of long-term diet studies by UCLA, researcher Traci Mann found that although most people lose five to 10 percent of their weight on a diet, the weight comes back for most. Over four to five years, a third to two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. It’s no wonder so many people think that all diets don’t work.
“Doomed,” you’re thinking. “I’m doomed.” But nothing can be further from the truth. Except for your DNA, which may genetically wire you to carry a little extra weight, all the reasons you diets don’t work are within your power to change. You just need to know what they are and the steps to take to thwart them.
Here are six reasons diets don’t work… and how to prevent them:
1. You think of yourself as “on a diet.”
If you’re on a diet, you can go off it. This is a major reason diets don’t work: They are temporary. Eating right is for a lifetime. You can lose weight eating only cabbage soup, foods that aren’t white or low-calorie, low-fat meals, etc., but if you think that once you lose the weight you can go back to your old ways, you’re sunk.
Fix: Turn your weight loss diet into a learning experience so you can maintain your healthy weight. Learn portion control, for example. Your Nutrisystem meals are perfectly portioned so you can get a good idea of what a serving of protein, starch, grain and produce looks like. Practice creating your own healthy and delicious meals to learn how satisfying they can be.
2. You deprive yourself of food.
Unlike booze and cigarettes, which you can live without, you need food for survival. Your body is hardwired to avoid hunger and you can get anxious if you’re, for example, cutting out whole food groups, skipping meals or eating less than 1,200 calories a day. When you’re trying to lose weight, stress is not your friend. Studies have found that the hormones your body produces under stress, such as cortisol and insulin, actually make you eat more. Stress also makes you reach for “comfort foods” that are full of fat and sugar… which can be the reason you’ve found that diets don’t work for you.
Fix: Simple: Don’t deprive yourself. All your favorite foods—even your comfort foods—can be tailored to fit on a weight loss diet. On Nutrisystem, you can eat pizza, mac and cheese, burgers and even ice cream! Who is going to feel deprived on that? Experiment with recipes that scale down fat, sugar and calories on all your favorites for your flex meal options so you’re armed when you’re in your lifelong maintenance phase. Also, consider learning to meditate or practice relaxation. One 2009 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that learning relaxation training skills helped a group of women significantly reduce their episodes of emotional eating.