Do you consider yourself an average woman? Well, then chances are you will spend 17 years of your life on a diet. Yes, a total of 17 years across a lifetime spent counting calories, restricting your food intake, cutting carbs, or buying low-fat only.
Depressing isn’t it? Especially when you consider that of the 75 per cent of women who want to lose weight, more than two thirds are of a healthy weight.
This sad state of affairs was something that prompted personal trainer Tiffiny Hall and her co-host clinical psychologist Cass Dunn to examine why we diet and why diets don’t work on their podcast Crappy to Happy.
Listen: Tiff Hall tells Mia Freedman why she decided to upload those pictures to Instagram. (Post continues…)
As Tiff puts it, “People are worried about how they look, feeling blah, feeling crappy and they’re going for these quick fixes, magic potions and pills and thinking change will happen overnight and being depressed when it doesn’t.”
Yep, that sums it up.
We live in a society that bombards us with (mostly photoshopped) images of thin, smiling women and tells us that this is the only acceptable body shape to have in order to be healthy, happy and worthy of love and praise.
What’s ironic is that, for most of us, trying to attain that kind of body will only lead to health problems, misery and a lack of self-worth.
In Australia, dieting is a $6.6 billion industry. A mind-blowing amount, considering studies and research prove restrictive dieting just does not work in the long-term.
So why are diets so damaging and why don’t they work?
“[Dieting] really encourages you to adopt an all or nothing attitude,” Tiff told Mamamia. “In my many years training people, many seem to be all or nothing. They’re either on a diet or they’re eating fast food. They’re either doing a 5km run or absolutely nothing.”
“I see this mentality where they go hard and then they fall off the wagon.”
On the podcast, Cass expanded on how most deprivation diets mess with you mentally – we’re talking detoxes, fast diets and low-carb diets like Dukan or Paleo.
“You create this deprivation effect which results in a bounce-back, so binge-eating,” she says.
“We live in a microwave society and we all just want the instant overnight results… but what that does to our brain actually is when we start restricting our food intake is we start becoming obsessed with food.”
What’s more, Cass explained that we have a finite amount of willpower and by saying “no” to food all day, you use it up, also contributing to the late-night binge many dieters will be all-too-familiar with.
Tiff adds that extreme diets wreak havoc on your metabolism. This is in part because muscles burn calories and many restrictive diets result in you losing muscle, therefore lowering the number of calories you burn resting, meaning you have to eat less to compensate.