Diets for Weight Loss Don’t Work, so What Does?

These days, health professionals and the public alike agree: Diets don’t work!

We understood that at Green Mountain at Fox Run almost a half-century ago when we pioneered the non-diet approach. What’s new is the science that has confirmed what we intuitively understood. 

Read on to learn why diets don’t work and what you can do instead to put yourself firmly on the path to ending eating and weight struggles.

“If I had never dieted, I don’t believe I would have ever struggled with my weight.”

– Carol B., Green Mountain Alumna

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Weight loss through dieting is temporary. The vast majority of people who lose weight through dieting end up regaining all the weight.1,2 As many as 60% of those gain back more weight than they lost.2 Done repeatedly — as many women who struggle with weight do — dieting can cause you to gain weight over time to a level that is unnatural and unhealthy for you.3,4,5

Dieting trains your brain to make food harder to resist. It’s a survival  mechanism — when food is in short supply, hormones kick in that are designed to make sure you eat.6,7,8,9,10,11 Those hormones also make food taste better. The end result is a double whammy that makes food much harder to ignore.12,13

Dieting messes with your hunger and satisfaction cues. Weight lost through dieting causes the hormones that are responsible for helping you feel full to drop. At the same time, it causes the hormones that make you feel hungry to increase — another double whammy that is your body’s way of ensuring its survival.6,7,8,9,10,11 It doesn’t know that food is scarce because you’re restricting it on purpose; it thinks it is facing a famine.

Dieting damages your relationship with food.14,15 You don’t learn how to truly nourish yourself. Instead, you’re in a constant push-pull between wanting to lose weight and learning how to feed yourself to support your natural, healthy weight.

Dieting causes emotional overeating, leading to a dependence on food to manage stress.16,17,18,19 It can also lead to eating disorders such as binge eating disorder.14

Dieting causes your metabolism to slow down.6,20 That means that any calories you do eat are used more efficiently.9 Making it not only harder to lose weight but much easier to gain it back. And it gets gained back primarily as fat, which does not take most people where they want to go.9,21,22,23

Diets are often missing in important nutrients that are essential to health.24,25 Miss out on these nutrients too long and you’ll likely find yourself less than healthy. That can cause weight gain that has nothing to do with calories but more to do with the body’s attempt to take care of itself.

Dieting is part of the thin ideal, a false standard that causes immense pain and suffering in the lives of women today.26

If Diets Don't Work, What Does?

Stop dieting. This may sound like a repeat of the previous point, but here we’re focusing on that constant attention to what we’re eating, how many calories, fat or carbohydrates it contains, when we eat it, etc., etc., etc. — all things that many of us continue to do even when we say we don’t diet anymore. These behaviors lead to a way of eating that often falls far short of what our bodies need for well-being, including supporting a healthy micro-biome that plays key roles in our metabolism and immune system. Instead, start eating mindfully, using your internal cues that are designed to guide you in eating for well-being.32,33

Change the way you think about exercise. At Green Mountain we move our bodies because it feels good. There’s no “should” or “have to”. It’s all about “want”. What do I want, rather than what should I do. The difference is transformational. It replaces anxiety, stress and shame with a new exciting relationship with movement, joy and play that can make physical activity a regular part of your life.34

Practice mindfulness. In today’s busy, stressful world, mindfulness can help you make choices in your own interest. It’s not about spending hours in lotus position but instead practicing being present and aware of what’s going on and the choices you have, then deciding what is best for you in the moment and over time.35,36

Move your focus from “Being Good” and “Looking Good” to “Feeling Good”. This is about changing from the inside out, using intrinsic motivation to guide your decisions.27,28 When we are in touch with what we truly need and want, we can make choices that feel good in the moment and long after. Feeling good is the reward our brains seek. Mindfulness is the bridge to noticing what makes you really feel good and then doing it regularly.29

Accept your wonderful self. The first step in taking care of ourselves is to adopt a non-judgmental attitude towards ourselves, regardless of our size, to help us see what’s what without interfering, critical self-talk. Change that is motivated by self loathing and shame doesn’t last — it’s hard to take care of something you don’t really like. Rather than causing us to “give up”, self-acceptance actually motivates us.30

Quit trying to lose weight. Set your sights on doing what’s necessary to help you feel good. Generally, those are activities that will support our bodies in achieving and maintaining their natural, healthy weight.31 Weight loss, if it is right for your body, becomes an outcome rather than a goal. The bonus: With this method, it’s likely to be a lasting result, rather than another yo-yo diet. And it’s pleasurable, which adds to its lasting effect.

Enjoy life. Happiness leads the way to making choices that support both your physical and emotional well-being. It’s time to stop putting your life on hold until you lose weight. Start to live the full, rich, meaningful life you deserve today.

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Named a Top Weight Loss Camp for Lasting Results by Women’s Health Mag

Our non-diet, individualized approach to ending weight struggles that avoids rules or restriction got us featured in Women’s Health Magazine. Consider joining us in 2018 when we’ll be celebrating our 45th Anniversary, and discover how to create real and lasting change.

rebecca scritchfield

“The support team of dietitians, therapists, trainers and other participants help you build the knowledge and skills you need to change your life, take better care of yourself, and manage weight concerns. You will leave feeling like a new person.” —Rebecca Scritchfield, R.D.N.

Green Mountain at Fox Run
Helps You Put It All Together

We pioneered and have perfected the non-diet approach over four decades ago. And have spent all that time evolving our approach into livable and practical strategies to make it something that works for busy women at home, where the rubber meets the road. It’s an approach for living the life you want to lead.

Our program focuses on creating lasting change and a deep sense of well-being. Through powerful tools such as mindfulness, stress reduction skills, and movement that is customized to your fitness level and body size, you’ll learn to practice self-care in your daily life. It’s a game changer.


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