Why Diets Don’t Work

If we stop to think about it, we’d realise that diets don’t work – at least, not in the long term.

Research shows that almost two thirds of us are on a diet to lose weight “all or most of the time”. Many of us achieve some weight loss by trying different diets but often end up in a yo-yo cycle where we start a diet, lose some weight, and then ‘fall off the wagon’ – either because we have unrealistic expectations about the diet or our weight loss goals, or the diet is just not sustainable. And the sad reality is that over 98% of people who lose weight on a diet gain the weight back within 2 years, and then some.

If diets did work, and there was a magic pill or formula that allowed us to lose weight and keep it off, we’d all be doing it. And we wouldn’t have an ‘obesity epidemic’ where, in the UK, obesity prevalence has risen to 26%, such that 58% of women, 65% of men and 1 in 3 children are now classified as overweight or obese (from Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet – England, 2016 [NS]: 2016).

The thing is, we’re thinking about weight loss all wrong. Most people want to lose weight simply to get the weight (or fat) off. But here’s the rub – most of the time the weight is there for a reason. Excess weight or fat is a symptom, not the cause. If you lose the weight but don’t address the cause, the weight will come back.

And it’s not simply about eating less calories or less carbs, or doing more exercise, or being a willpower weakling. For sustainable, long term weight loss, we need to address the cause of our excess weight.

So, what are some of the causes of excess weight? They may include:

  • Too much stress
  • Not enough sleep
  • Toxic or unhelpful thoughts about ourselves and others
  • Emotional hunger
  • Overeating or binge-eating
  • Loneliness
  • Self-hatred
  • Lack of awareness or ‘mindless’ eating
  • Financial worries
  • Poor food choices
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Someone else’s belief that we need to lose weight
  • A misguided self-belief that we need to lose weight
  • Past sexual abuse
  • And many more …

And as you can see, none of these are about calories, exercise, a new diet or joining a slimming club.

It’s time to understand that our issues with weight require a whole new approach.


If you want to learn more about how I can help you address your underlying issues with weight, and help you lose weight and keep it off, please get in touch. You may also want to learn more about my courses to help you address weight loss from a mindset approach.



Dr Marcelle Crinean, PhD, owner and director of Brain Reframe, is a highly qualified therapist, coach and lecturer.

In her busy practice, Marcelle successfully treats sleep and stress-related issues (including insomnia, anxiety and depression) as well as disordered eating, binge-eating and undereating. She regularly holds workshops and webinars, and trains business executives across the UK and Europe in the art of sleep and stress management.

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