Why Most Diets For Weight Loss Lead To Failure

Why Most Diets For Weight Loss Lead To Failure

Many people who are trying to lose weight believe they have a problem with sugar or think they are addicted to carbs.

They are often convinced that food is their only problem and they lack willpower.

All of those beliefs are false.

If you want to lose weight and gain health, without ever worrying about being on a diet, the first thing you must recognize is that food is not actually the problem.

Food is a temporary solution to the problem, although it is a harmful, damaging solution.

Why Diets Fail?

Diets fail because on some level they are about deprivation, which always leads to overeating or bingeing.

That’s because the anticipation of not being able to eat what you want will make you want it more.

If you are thinking about not having pizza or pasta or ice cream, then you have pizza or pasta or ice cream on your mind all day.

That puts the focus on the wrong thing, which is what you’re eating, instead of why.

Ultimately, diets fail because they only deal with food and do not address what is eating “at” you.

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Diet Know Info

Diets do not address the underlying conflicts that make you turn to food in the first place. There are many reasons for that, including

  • Wanting to feel better fast
  • Eating out of boredom
  • To express inner pain

When you identify what is eating “at” you, instead of focusing on what you are eating, you can lose weight and gain health, all without counting a single calorie or fat gram.

As every gardener knows, if you chop off a weed it will grow back. To eliminate the weed permanently you have to dig out the root.

Overeating or bingeing is the equivalent of a weed, and when you go under the surface to the root problem, and work through those roots; you will change your relationship to food and lose weight without dieting.

Here are some common reasons why you might be using food to cope:

“I Just Want To Feel Better”

Recently, a woman who had been dieting her whole life asked me, “Why do I always turn to food when I’m upset? Why can’t I go to the gym instead?”

She was eating to ease uncomfortable emotions and feel better. She was not going to find that sense of comfort at the gym.

Why use food for comfort? Our first experience of love and connection is connected to the experience of feeding.

When babies are fed, they are held in a parent’s arms, and they feel safe and connected and loved.

On a very primal level, eating becomes fused with that early sense of connection and that bond of love.

bond of love

Although we may not consciously think of food in this way, it registers in our psyches.

Food, on some level, equals love. After all, we use the same words to describe relationships that we use regarding food. Consider these expressions:

  • Hungry for love
  • Starving for attention
  • Looking for a fulfilling relationship

Eating for comfort really means having the experience of being comforted by another person.

People can be unpredictable, unreliable and unavailable, whereas food is predictable, reliable and available.

That’s why it can be easier to turn to food than to people.

Take the next step by learning to be supportive, compassionate and kind to yourself when you need comfort.

Turn your inner critic into a cheerleader. One guideline is that if you wouldn’t say something to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

What experiences have made you afraid to seek out or trust people?

How do you comfort other people, like your kids, partner, or friends? Do you relate to yourself the same way, or are you harsher with yourself?

What would be most fulfilling to you right now?

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“I Eat When I’m Bored”


Many of us eat out of boredom – or so we think. Sometimes we think we are bored when we are actually lonely.

There is a difference between boredom and loneliness. Boredom is about wanting to do something.

The way to alleviate boredom is to do an activity and be active and productive. Find something you like to do and do it.

On the other hand, loneliness is about wanting to be with another person. If you’re lonely, you might fill up on food as a way of filling the symbolic emptiness inside.

The solution to loneliness is to be with someone or a group of people and to feel connected and fulfilled in their presence.

If you eat when you are bored, take the next step by identifying how food helps you cope.

Does eating, or thinking about food, give you something to “do” and distract you from other thoughts and feelings?

When you’re alone, what emotions or thoughts are most uncomfortable? Why?

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“I Ate So Much My Stomach Hurt”

Many people find that they are unable to stop eating, even after they are in physical pain. They eat so much that their stomachs hurt, and they feel physically uncomfortable.

They think they are powerless over food and lack willpower, but something else is going on

When emotional pain is too much to bear, painful feelings can be converted into physical sensations. Eating to the point of pain is a way of unconsciously converting emotional discomfort to physical.

Not only is this a way of articulating what you feel inside, it is easier to get rid of physical pain than it is to process what hurts you emotionally.

Also, the experience of yearning, wanting or needing more love, attention, friendship, understanding, money, security, and so forth, may be experienced as actual physical hunger.

Diet Bore

Consider what you are hungry for in your life (that isn’t food). When you get what you need, you stop being hungry for more. When you have satisfaction in life, you won’t look for it in food.

Take the next step by translating your “body language” into emotional needs, wants or conflicts.

What emotional pain are you aware of right now?

What do you want or need more of in your life?

The key to weight loss without dieting is to stop counting calories and fat grams and start tuning in to what’s eating “at” you. When you deal with the true problem, you won’t use food to cope. That’s how you make peace with food and lose weight without dieting.


If you are turning “to” food when you’re not hungry, you’re almost certainly turning “away” from something else. Eating is a way of coping with difficult emotions or situations. You may be eating because you’re sad, bored or lonely, or because you feel powerless about something that’s going on in your life. The key to weight loss without dieting is to stop counting calories and fat grams and start tuning in to what’s eating “at” you. When you deal with the true underlying problem, you won’t use food to cope. That’s how you make peace with food and lose weight without dieting.

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Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D.

Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin is a psychoanalyst, author, speaker and internationally recognized expert in weight, food and body image issue

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