Wednesday 23 March 2011

Gretel's rant of the week: apparently, diets don't work

Gretel Hallet, came on our Chocolate Fairy Training last year and is running workshops in East Anglia.  If you live in the area and would like to attend a Beyond Chocolate course, Gretel would love to hear from you!  Meet Gretel.

Sound the trumpets!  Another investigation has discovered (to their apparent surprise) that diets don’t work.

Losing weight is often touted as a way to improve health, but many weight-loss programs may not help stave off disease since people tend to gain the weight back, Australian researchers say.

They could have saved themselves a lot of time and money if they’d just asked a few Beyond Chocolaters! 

Like many others that I’ve seen on the internet, this study continues to assume that losing weight would benefit health and that gaining the weight back again would ‘negate’ any health benefits gained from losing the weight in the first place. 

This study also rather despondently concludes that, “the fact that not everybody (who's) overweight wants to, or can, participate [in dieting progammes] reduces its overall effect on the overweight-related burden of disease in the population."

Ooo, just look at those words!  ‘The overweight-related burden of disease in the population’!!  So, not only do we have fat, but we are a ‘burden’ and are ‘diseased’.  Eeek! 

This study seems to me to be well behind others I’ve seen – they focused on putting volunteer groups through 2 parallel diets and monitoring their progress on and off the diet.  Of course the participants on both diets lost weight, of course they all gained it back and some once they stopped dieting.  The researchers seemed surprised by this – but it’s just common sense.

The researchers say that better food labelling would help (where’s the evidence for this, and who decides on the labels?) and a ‘junk food tax’; neither of which address the issues of why people gain weight.  All the junk food in the world won’t make someone put on weight if they don’t over-eat on it.    Researchers like this continue to treat obesity as a ‘disease’, as something that can be ‘cured’, rather than helping people to work with their bodies and their eating to sort it out for themselves. 

Research like this doesn’t help one little bit.  It’s about time that the news that dieting doesn’t work became accepted by everyone (not just enlightened Beyond Chocolaters!) and then, perhaps, research could be properly focused on helping people to manage their eating and lifestyles, rather than trying to force them into self-destructive diets.  


  1. I think that dieting would work IF we all learned how to deal with our emotions instead of using junk food to stuff down our negative feelings and /or numb the more painfful ones. I think that this is where the dieting industry "trips up". I am with Slimming World at the moment and am trying to deal with how I am feeling at the same time and work a different way round it. I have lost 2st but then I have lost 3.5st with SW before and put it all back on, and more besides so I admit I am scared of falling off the wagon again. If I am honest I feel like I am in some sort of inner turmoil about eating and dieting etc because the risk of "Blowing it all" again is so easy.
    I do like what Beyond Chocolate say about eating slowly and when we are hungry, without distractions and so on. But to be honest, I dont know when I am genuinely hungry and I would still end up studying myself all day long and wondering if I had got it right etc.

    There is no easy way around weight loss. Its painful, really it is.

  2. A friend of mine has a very overweight mother who was slim until she did a crazy diet. She just wanted to lose a few pounds and she wound up gaining loads she had just wrecked her metabolism and also her food psychology. Personally I hated slimming world because it totally messes up your natural portion control. Also I emailed them to ask for the science behind it. They said it was based on the principle of satiety. I asked if they could elaborate and if any research had been done or papers published and I never heard back. I don't think they'd go within a million miles of any real research because they know they won't like the truth.

  3. Hi Shirl and Stephanie and thank you for your comments.
    Shirl - it may feel like 'studying myself all day long and wondering if I'd got it right' but that's your diet-head, not your BC-head, talking there! Observing what we do and gently reminding ourselves why we don't want to do that any more is very different to the hawk-like vigilance required to stick to a diet. And, the longer I work with BC, the less I have to 'watch myself'; the more I can trust myself to eat when hungry, stop when full etc. I am slowly but surely 're-setting' my body to 'normal' around food - something I could never have done if I'd stuck with the diets. I am curious about my eating rather than critical and I can't 'fall off the wagon' cos I'm not on one to start with - therefore I am no longer scared. Ditch the fear and the diets and commit to Beyond Chocolate - I've never regretted it for an instant.
    Stephanie - how interesting that SW can't or won't justify their methods ... good for you for asking!


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