Click here to print page

Dieting: A losing proposition

Fuelling Your Body


Sunday, July 22, 2018

QUIT dieting, but never quit lifestyle change.

Let's just hit the ground running: I have failed at dieting all my life. I was not even a successful bad dieter. Many people have been “successful” with diets but repeatedly have put the weight back on. I actually envied those individuals, at least they have a recent memory of being slim. Sure, with following this diet or that, I have dropped 20 or 30 pounds here and there, but then you are over 300 pounds eventually, practically 400, which means less than you would like.

But what was going wrong? Self-discipline? Self-control? Laziness? The only real laziness here is with the individuals, food industry, health professionals, and societies who promote those as the answers. So, what have I learned and what does work?


Dieting is a losing proposition

Anything you eat is a part of your diet, but here, specifically, we are talking about programmes which promise weight loss. Clearly many people have been helped over the years where otherwise there may have been no solution.

But imagine for a moment that you have a disease which has a high possibility of crippling or killing you in your lifetime, promising scarring emotionally, mentally and physically. Then the only treatment will at best result in a:

• 20 per cent chance of failure within one month;

• 25 per cent chance of failure within three months;

• 70 per cent chance of failure within a couple of years;

• 95 per cent chance of a long-term average 10 per cent increase.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers have found this to be true, and there are tens of years of studies resulting in estimates which put these numbers higher.

Diets fail. And you don't want yourself or a loved one to get caught up in that cycle. Name a diet, any one, unless you consider five to 25 per cent a pass, it fails. But why?


Why diets fail

For thousands of years, your ancestors ate whatever they could get their hands on. This was their diet. The name of the game was availability and energy; if it kept you alive and gave you a chance to reproduce, it was a good diet, even if it caused death by 30, and it often did. Nowadays there is availability and food energy beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors.

Unfortunately, our brains haven't adjusted. it still motivates us and rewards us for more and punishes us for less, blinding us to what we are seeing in the mirror and deafening us to the knowledge and experiences which tell us the path cravings will lead us down. We are programmed to be addicts — be it to love, faith, drugs, behaviours or food, addiction, drive and compulsion are what got us here.

Now enters the need for moderation and temperance. If you lived in a society influenced by large food industries and corporations, cultures with traditional dishes which are based in excesses of less than optimal nutritional balances, communities with an abundance of fast food restaurants, snacks in every store and families which relate comfort, celebration and relaxation to foods, then you are very likely going to have health and weight challenges.


Diets are based on restrictions

Naturally, a caloric deficit is the only way to lose excess body fat, unless you can run 10 hours a day every day for the rest of your natural life. but it is the mindset and restrictions which are the true problems. Unfortunately, this restriction is seen as a famine to your brain, which turns your body into a muscle-burning, food-retaining monster, and when you return to normal eating after your weight loss, now with less muscle to burn energy and more efficient at storing fat, you will regain.


Super quick weight loss

You often get the question: Lost that much? The real thing I want to know is how long it took? Because of how weight- loss programmes are marketed, this is the general view. However, as a general rule, the more rapid the weight loss, the more likelihood of a relapse.

Your weight loss should be as steady and as physiologically unassuming as your weight gain, not triggering the responses associated with famine.


Mindset and stress

Not understanding or embracing improvements in your diet will accentuate your brain perceiving the change as famine. Always being stressed over what you cannot have and do will literally slow and stop the fat- loss progress. Certainly, the reaction to feeling deprived will even reverse the loss.


Diets are promoted as what you cannot eat

“When can I eat normally again?” This is a common dieter's question, which is obviously a road to disaster. If you are imagining that you need to once again eat a little more of what put you at risk in the first place, then your perspective needs adjusting.

It should be more about what you can eat, all the things which will help you and how. What you cannot eat should be a very short list. Yes, originally a very tempting list, but still short, and with knowledge and wisdom increasing over time.


Dieting and being thin is not all it takes to be healthy

Remember thin does not mean healthy. Sure, it is an indicator, but what nutrients you are taking in to keep your daily healing and preventing health issues is much more important than just being thin.

Thin people have nutrition-related illnesses as well, so balance is everything.


No preparation or support for living leaner

Dieting promotes weight loss, but once attained, what next? Many people are happy to hit a goal weight, but this goal weight is short-lived.. This is even worse than the lottery winners who go broke because they have no idea how to manage money. Living fit and healthy with your new size and shape has its own challenges mentally and physically, and without the understanding, support or adherence to a system designed for maintenance, the tendency to regain weight will always be high.


Doable for life

I have said it before and I'll say it again: it is okay if the change is challenging. Change is hard, but it must be manageable for life. Maintaining health becomes increasingly more difficult with age. What is the use working so hard to do some unsustainable thing only to abandon it when you need wellness the most? It must be a way of eating which you can maintain for life.



So many programmes hook and re-hook people with foods that they know they love, just edging away the caloric deficiency and allowing some weight loss. This makes them marketable, giving them what is known as “placeholders”. these offer similar alternatives and flavours to what you are already addicted to. Therefore, naturally, habits and behaviours never change and you revert.


So what works?

This may seem shocking coming from someone who is a part of a weight-loss system. Sure, ITK developed and utilises a weight-loss algorithm designed specifically to match the weight loss experienced by gastric modification surgery recipients, but the fact is that ITK is rooted in lifestyle eating and activity. It is punctuated by constantly developing two-year maintenance management. ITK would better be called a sustainable weight-loss and -management system, but who would know what that means?

I can tell you with surety, your best bet of being a truly healthy individual is to have a diet you can live with, one which consistently keeps the potentially damaging refined and processed foods under control and embraces clean protein sources; frequent servings of various vegetables and fruit; sufficient fibre, teas, nuts, legumes, grains, healthy oils, and probiotic foods. All prepared cleanly and with flavours you love, eaten at healthy times with good spices and, very importantly, in proper portions. Have a balance in your physical activities and keep a positive outlook.


Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at