Put your hand up if you have been on a successful diet and NOT put at least some of the weight back on? Put your hand up if you put it all back on and then some. Are you confused about the very latest thing we are all supposed to be giving up? (Sugar seems to be the most recent baddy, but it is sometimes hard to keep up). Studies show that between 50% and 80% of dieters will put all their lost weight back on and some may well find they are heavier than they were when they first started the diet. How incredibly depressing.
In April 2007, UCLA research in American Psychologist, (the journal of the American Psychological Association) concluded that, “you can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back”.
Traci Mann, UCLA Associate Professor of Psychology and lead author of the study, conducted the most comprehensive and rigorous analysis of diet studies by analysing 31 long-term pieces of research.
“What happens to people on diets in the long run?” Mann asked. “Would they have been better off to not go on a diet at all? We decided to dig up and analyse every study that followed people on diets for two to five years. We concluded most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all. Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back.”
“We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”
So where does that leave us? Depressed? Unmotivated? Confused? Turning to the nearest donut?
Diets are a very personal choice – there is probably one to suit everybody’s preferences and lifestyles. For some people, five small meals per day works best; the 5:2 diet (fasting for 2 days of every 7) suits others. Some enjoy counting calories, others hate it. What seems indisputable is we have to conquer how to make them work in the long run. Many dieters relax after initial weight loss and then the diet slips. Or results are too slow and people become unmotivated.
We all feel better at an optimum weight so we need to remind ourselves of that: it is easier to move around, easier to run for the bus, our joints don’t suffer, we feel more attractive and (perhaps counter-intuitively) we seem to have more energy. So where do we find this extra motivation? Sadly I don’t have the magic answer – I wish I did.
There is a book called ‘Mindless Eating’ by Brian Wansink which has some interesting information on the psychology of overeating and how we make decisions about the food we eat. He has done some research into the correlation between the size of bowl/plate and the amount of food people subsequently help themselves to. If you have read my previous blogs on the Side Plate Diet you will know that I am a convert to eating off three (occasionally four) 7 inch plates a day. It works for me, but I realise it won’t suit everyone.
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Annie Bee x