Evy year thousands of Americans follow an unfortunate pattern. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they begin to gorge themselves on delicious but unhealthy holiday food. Then, come January 1, they swear off their poor eating habits in the name of better health, only to fall back into them within a few weeks or months.
The dismal success rate of these New Year’s diet resolutions is discouraging but it isn’t particularly surprising, since 80% of all dieters fail to lose weight, and one-third even gain additional weight. But the upside to these depressing statistics is that they have given researchers the impetus to find out why losing weight is so difficult. So in hopes of keeping those resolutions alive, let’s take a look at why so many well-intentioned weight loss efforts fail every January.
1. New Year’s diet cliché
New Year’s diet has become such a cliché is that willpower is often no match for all the variables that influence eating habits. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Appetite, for example, the sheer complexity of most diet schemes, Weight Watchers in this case, may be enough to discourage many people from maintaining their weight loss efforts. The researchers found that the 390 study participants were more likely to give up their diets prematurely if they were “… not able to recall or process all required information for deciding what to eat.” Higher “self-efficacy,” the belief that they could lose weight, did encourage the participants to stay on their diets, but simplicity of the diet was still a better predictor of success. The researchers also noted that environmental factors, like keeping junk food around, could subdue willpower as well.
2. Dieting to Restrict Certain Foods
A healthy diet is designed to moderate your consumption of certain foods. These foods often are unhealthy, or if consumed in excess they can pose a risk to your health. When you feel that certain foods are completely off limits to you, you are more likely to abandon a diet.
3. Being Required to Purchase Diet Products
Some diets require using commercial food products to follow the proposed diet. Keeping a supply of these products can be difficult, not to mention costly. Due to constraints on time or even low inventory of the supplier, when you have trouble purchasing these products, the diet ceases.
4. Food Fatigue
Many diets have recommendations on the types of foods you eat. While there is generally room for flexibility, you might grow tired of eating certain foods. This can lead to temptation to eat other foods, which are usually unhealthy.
You might be successful on your diet for some time, but because circumstances can be unpredictable, at some point you might eat something that is not expressly a part of your diet or you might eat more than you should of a certain food. Some people believe that this is a sign of failure. Due to their guilt about overstepping a boundary in their diet, they quit. It’s important to understand balance. No one is perfect; progress can be regained as long as the mistakes are not repeated.
6. Dieting to Be Thin
Some people diet with the goal of being thin, but being thin does not necessarily mean you are healthy. If you are not following a balanced diet, you might encounter health issues that could result in having to stop the diet.
7. Diets Can Cause or Affect Certain Medical Conditions
There are certain diets that can cause or exacerbate certain medical conditions. For example, if you are following a diet that eliminates fat from your diet, you might notice a change in the feel and appearance of your skin or hair. This is because you need a certain amount of fat in your diet to keep these things healthy. In addition, if you have a skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema, eliminating the fat from your diet could make the condition worse.
8. Low on Time
Eating healthy often means cooking more and making meals at home. When you are low on time, it can be difficult to stay organized and prepare foods in advance.
9. Misunderstanding of a Diet’s Benefits
Many people eat and drink whatever they like and don’t experience any visible signs that their health is compromised. If you are one of these people and you start a particular diet or take steps to improve your diet, you might not see the benefits of the diet because you weren’t having any issues prior to that. Over time, you might not believe that the diet is necessary.
10. Some Progress Becomes Enough
You start a diet and start to see results. The key to a successful diet is implementing it and managing it over time. You might be tempted to start the diet and once you see some signs of results, you resort back to your old habits.
Studies in psychology and neuroscience like the ones done on the Genetix Program may ultimately help explain why weight loss is an insurmountable challenge for many, but a related and arguably better explanation may be that dieting itself is actually the problem. In a 2011 Nutrition Journal article, a team of researchers argued that placing the emphasis on weight loss, as opposed to overall healthfulness, sets dieters up to fail. Encouraging people to modify their diets and exercise specifically to lose weight, though successful in the short term, often leaves people no slimmer or healthier than when they started, and frustrated that they can’t reach their goals. By the way, that sounds exactly like what happens to many Americans each and every January.
There’s no doubt that permanently changing eating habits is difficult, but it is doable. There is clear evidence that people can successfully lose weight and keep it off, regardless of the psychological or genetic stumbling blocks that may be in their way. The Genetix Program key is making dieting decisions based on the available science. And it’s certainly a strategy that could save people a lot of frustration come the first of the year.