Dieting is tough work, there's no doubt about it. The ability to transform your body can be a very grueling mental task in which many will fail. There are very specific reasons why most commercial diets fail and most times lead to relapse.
Today we're going to focus on strict diets or diets that require you to go cold turkey on your favorite foods and why they don't work.
Strict Dieting Pros:
You've Acknowledged That There's A Problem: The first step in fighting an addiction is admitting to yourself that you're an addict, this includes unhealthy/binge eating. Maybe you've been waking up feeling weak and depressed, maybe you took a long look at yourself in the mirror and didn't like what you saw, or maybe your doctor went over your blood work with you and concluded that you need to make a change. The most important take away from attempting to start a diet is that you're being honest with yourself, and that's a very difficult thing to admit.
You Might Learn A Thing Or Two: Throughout your journey of trying to take back your health, you may have a better understanding of how to properly eat. Maybe you have a better understanding of fiber consumption or the importance of healthy fats, hell you may even learn what a Calorie is. Education is key and you've taken a step in the right direction.
Instills Discipline: Even though most diets are shit, you at least had the courage to get strict and make a change. Being consistent with a diet may teach you self-control. Unfortunately this type of self control is very rarely sustainable.
Strict Dieting Cons:
Unreasonable Expectations: Have you ever done a diet that advertises something along the lines of “Lose X Pounds in Y Days OR YOUR MONEY BACK!!” If not, I'm sure you've seen the ridiculously photoshopped before and afters in advertisements. When you commit to a diet, you expect to look like the “after” picture in the prescribed amount of time. Unfortunately, it's rarely the case that the average Joe or Jane can achieve those goals in such a short time period.
Unsustainable: There's a reason why most diets come with a built-in time limit. The extreme paradigm shift that happens to your eating habits when you commit to a fad diet can be astonishing. It simply isn't possible to comply with a lot of fad diet rules for a long period of time.
Doesn't Educate: I know in the “Pro” section I said that dieting can teach you “a thing or two”, but I kind of meant that literally. You may learn something new, but without the big picture being in focus, it can be hard to really know what you're doing or how to get results.
Leads To Binge Eating: Sounds a little counter-intuitive, doesn't it? That's because it is. When you get on a diet that involves completely cutting out all of the foods that you like, you run the risk of some dark consequences further down the road. According to thisstudy, published by PubMed, restricting palatable foods promotes over-excessive binge eating. In other words, if you cut out foods that you like for a 30 day diet, you are very likely to binge on those foods as soon as the 30 days is over. This is because you will go through withdraw symptoms similar to a drug addict due to similar chemicals in the brain being released. Not good.
Relapse Is Almost Guaranteed: Strict dieting requires a tremendous amount of willpower, and willpower is something that we have in limited supply. Once you run out, you're out, which can lead to binging. 83% of dieters gain the weight they lost back in 2 years with 40% gaining more weight than they started at! This extremely high relapse rate is most likely caused by not addressing the underlying psychological reason why you were binge eating in the first place. Dieting is more of a bandaid. One that mentally drains you and almost always leads to relapse.
So, What's the Solution?
Allow yourself to eat comfort food, just do it sparingly.
EXERCISE. It's not that you can't lose weight without exercise, it's that having a higher metabolism will make it easier.