Before You Start That Weight Loss Diet: The Slim Chance Awards 2014


Feeling a little, shall we say, over-sated after the holidays? Or are you just tired of struggling with what you believe is excess weight, and look at the new year as a time to begin again?

If so, resist the temptation to start another diet. The temptation is real and understandable. Everywhere we turn, we’re encouraged to diet if we feel like our weight is a problem. Remember, if a plan or program advises what to eat to lose weight, it’s a diet, no matter what they say.

And according to an independent panel of experts who reviewed nominations submitted from all over the world for this year’s Slim Chance Awards, here are the types of approaches that you really want to watch out for.

Weight Loss Diets & Schemes Don’t Work! Especially These

Awarded for the last 26 years, the “Slim Chance Awards” are intended to increase awareness that weight loss diets and schemes usually result in weight gain and, often, poorer health. The “winners” this year are:

Worst Weight Loss Approach: Meal Replacement & Food Supplement Plans

meal replacement - slim chance awardsMeal replacement and food supplement plans substitute packaged foods, shakes and other supplements for foods a person usually eats.

“People are drawn to meal replacement plans because it takes away the need to decide what to eat, grocery shop, and prepare your own food, which sounds helpful,” says panel member Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, who operates a Washington, DC weight neutral behavioral practice. “In reality, these programs are expensive, you give up control over the quality of food, and it takes the pleasure out of eating. It’s hard to participate in a social life when you’re on a meal replacement plan. Instead, see the time you spend shopping and preparing food as an investment in yourself. Discover balanced meals you will enjoy eating mindfully.”

Most Overrated Approach: Point and Calorie-Tracking Systems


These systems specify the number of calories (which are what points are based on) a person can eat each day.

“If plans like these seem appealing to you, ask yourself why,” advises Scritchfield. “They provide a structure to follow and allow “real food,” but they get in your way by distracting you from a real potential issue, why you’re eating in the first place.”

Most Outrageous Approach: BMI Report Cards


bmi report card - slim chance awardsIn an attempt to identify children who are at risk for weight-related problems, many schools sent home BMI report cards in 2014, informing parents of where their children rank on the controversial body mass index (BMI) scale.

“There is no good evidence that BMI report cards help children become healthier or happier,” says panel member Katja Rowell, MD, childhood feeding specialist. “And there is growing concern that these reports, most often delivered with inappropriate advice to restrict intake, do more harm than good.

Some ways schools can help children be healthier and happier include offering routine, balanced and tasty meals and snacks, including “treats”, sharing meals with caring adults who don’t pressure children to eat more or less (responsive feeding), and increasing opportunities for children to play, socialize, and move their bodies in rewarding ways.”

Worst Gimmick: Dr. Oz “Too Crazy to Be True” Recommendations

dr oz - slim chance awardsThe subject of a Senate inquiry, Dr. Oz was also singled out in a study in the British Medical Journal that suggested over half of the recommendations on his show were not supported by science.

“Desperate men and women (children included) spend nearly $65 billion a year in diet-related commerce and the reality is, most people experience weight gain and a reduction in health. And it supports an industry that contributes to the myth that thinner people are better and more valuable – which is not the case,” says panel member Lizabeth Wesely-Casella, weight stigma prevention advocate.

 What To Do to End Weight Struggles

It’s important to recognize that most people have tried some of the approaches that were nominated at one time or another (we’ll post all the nominations next week). They are seductive, especially when you don’t know what to do instead. Further, they often seem to work in the short run, although they end up causing weight gain in the long run.

“The good news is that people are hungry (no pun intended) for a new approach and have found many promises in mindful eating, intuitive eating and other healthy eating plans that you can sustain for the long run,” says panel member Dr. Susan Albers, mindful eating expert. ” Once you try out a truly healthy way of eating, you are able to spot deceptive ads and not get sucked into these fad diets that promise immediate, amazing results.”

Our experts agree that by changing the focus from weight loss to living well, people can see better results with achieving and maintaining their healthy weight. That’s because it becomes a side effect, a by-product of sustainable healthy living.

Consider these steps to self-care from Green Mountain at Fox Run that can help you move away from the focus on weight loss.

  • Focus on feeling good, not on how much you weigh.
  • Choose foods you enjoy and eat them in a way that helps you feel well.
  • Eat mindfully. That includes listening to and trusting your body’s cues – they are designed to effectively tell you what, when and how much to eat.
  • Move your body in ways that you enjoy. Forget about burning calories – that focus destroys motivation to exercise.
  • Feed yourself emotionally and spiritually with social connection and purpose.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

The Slim Chance Awards are part of Healthy Weight Week, scheduled for January 19-23 this year. Stay tuned for a list of activities to be announced next week.


13 responses to “Before You Start That Weight Loss Diet: The Slim Chance Awards 2014”

  1. Cornelia Robart says:

    Hi, Marsha – I get a lift out of many of these essays. I’m looking forward to my next visit to GM in Feb.
    Improvement points – trying to work more fruits and vegetables into my diet. Negative point – digestive system doesn’t always like them… working on stewed fruit….

    • Audrey S says:

      Thanks, this is a great reminder to not be tempted to jump into something AGAIN! I’m so glad I took the time to read! Looking firward to my first visit in February.

    • Marsha Hudnall says:

      So glad you get something out of our writings, Cornelia. We do spend a lot of time trying to get the word out this way. We look forward to seeing you soon!

  2. Marylu Coviello says:

    Thank you so much for this persuasive reminder of all that I have learned at Green Mountain. Since losing weight or maintaining weight loss is not a straight-slope-to-success endeavor, I have been tempted to try some of these “Slim Change” options over the past months when my exercise was limited by medical healing. I cannot tell you how affirmed I feel by reading about those options — which, of course, did not help — labelled as “slim chances.”

    • Marsha Hudnall says:

      Thanks for your comment, Marylu. Hoping you have wonderful year going in the direction you started while with us (or continued — maybe you were already on the path).

  3. Carol Corn says:

    Enjoyed this! I am a walking advertisement for years of these type…”quick fix”…diets. My 3 weeks at Green Mountain truly changed the way I look at food, and becoming healthier. Thanks for this reminder and motivational email. What an experience Green Mountain was this past November. Hope to return in the future.

  4. Linda Anderson says:

    I thought the report was great. I’m presently on the point system. It’s the only way I can figure out what and how much to eat. I’m guilty of not eating enough or not the right foods. We are encouraged to eat our favorite foods and not restrict ourselves. By knowing that a small piece of pumpkin pie is 1/3 of our daily points makes me choose it less often. Vegetables have no points. You can earn extra points with physical activities.

    • Marsha Hudnall says:

      Thanks for your comment, Linda. As we pointed out in the post, many people find point and other calorie counting systems helpful because they provide structure. And if they work for a person, we would never advise otherwise. The reality is, however, that they don’t work long-term for most people because they do restrict freedom of choice, which is important to being able to eat supportively over time. At Green Mountain, we also provide structure because we know how important it is for many women who feel lost with how to eat supportively. But it is a foundation for choice, without externally-imposed limits to calories or otherwise. If you want to read more about this approach, I recommend the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch or any of the books by Ellyn Satter.

  5. Shirley Kessel says:

    My heart feels lightness and ease when I read your good writing

  6. Rachel says:

    I enjoy reading essays like this as they help me to feel more normal. I have struggled with body image issues since I lost my thyroid to cancer 3 years ago at 27. I have begun to accept that I will never be “slim” again and have begun to focus on feeling healthy and fit instead and these essays help me to feel stronger than I would alone.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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