Select Page

In the new year they pop up everywhere again: advertisements and influencers promoting ‘revolutionary’ diets, shakes and cures. Research* shows that none of this works, but we still fall for it again en masse. Unfortunately with unpleasant side effects, namely kilos that first fly off but later come back (with bonus kilos on offer). And just as bad: a disturbed relationship with food. How can you resist weight loss ads?

*any research everywhere ever

Why weight loss ads cause harm

Losing weight is a valid goal. So why is it necessary to resist commercials for shakes, powders, pills and Himalayan goji berries? Because they basically stimulate you to go on their diet, you adjust your lifestyle in such a way that you are on a diet. First a few facts about diets, to understand what happens to our bodies:

Diets lead to weight gain

If you eat little, your body survives because it will use muscles for fuel. That’s how important energy (carbohydrates) is for the body. And it can take years for muscle tissue to rebuild to pre-diet levels.


Dieting makes you produce less satiety hormone, so you feel hungrier

The satiety hormone leptin gives you a feeling of satiety during meals. Because you produce less of this hormone during a diet, you never feel full, you are actually constantly hungry (but the diet won’t allow you to eat anything) and you are therefore always busy with, and thinking of, food.

In addition, your body tries to survive the dieting process by producing more fat as it loses fat and muscle tissue. It already prepares itself for the next diet.

Wait. That’s not what you wanted, was it? No that’s right! Diets are counterproductive.


Your body becomes smarter with every diet and starts producing fat

As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, your body adapts to each new diet and learns to survive. It will already build up a stock of fat to prepare for the next hunger winter (read: for the next diet). Which makes it even more difficult to lose weight.

You then feel worthless and a failure. While it’s not you who’s failing, it’s the diet! Your body is much smarter than all those diets combined. Your body knows how to do it.

Other consequences of losing weight with a diet (and therefore also with those diet products from advertisements or from influencers)

Diets contribute to:

  • Eating disorders
  • Binge eating
  • Dissatisfaction with your body
  • Always busy with food and your body
  • Cravings, resulting in overeating
  • Reduced self-confidence
  • Stigma surrounding weight and discrimination
  • Overall poorer mental health

Assignment: increase your motivation to stop dieting

The consequences of constantly following a diet are therefore not pleasant. If diets, shakes and powders would help, we would all be slim, right? If you no longer want to go on a diet, but are sensitive to the hype, it is smart to get strengthen your motivation to stop dieting.

Think about the following questions:

  • How has dieting affected your social life? Your eating behavior? Your thoughts and your mood? And how did it affect your body?
  • How much time and money have you spent chasing weight loss? Let’s put this together. How many euros did the diet books, diet products (bars, powders, shakes, pills, etc.) and weight loss programmes cost you? And how many years of your life? And what have they brought you?

Lose weight reliably

You probably know that dieting gives you nothing and costs a lot (and not just money). But even when it’s clear that diets aren’t working for you and are actually causing harm, it can be difficult to let go of that fantasy of ultimate weight loss and achieving a new ‘you’.

I understand very well if you want to lose weight (I’ve been there too and sometimes still am). Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy ways to do this, in a sustainable way that prevents you from relapsing again and again. Unprocessed, healthy food and lots of exercise, we know that. But there are other important steps that you should not skip.

Make your own plan: define your goal (and not the goal someone else wants for you) and the steps toward it

The most important thing here is that you make your own plan: what is your goal? Is that losing weight? Or does someone else actually think you should lose weight? You’re not intrinsically motivated to achieve someone else’s goal, so you will never succeed (and why should you). So think carefully about what it is that you would like to achieve (and that can of course still be losing weight).

Once you have a clear goal, you can think about how you want to achieve it. What are difficult situations for you and how can you tackle them in a different way? (This blog could also help you to form new habits, for example of you want to snack less during the day.) How well do you listen to your hunger and satiety signals? Do you often eat until you are too full? Do you skip meals? 

These are all things to think about if you want to lose weight reliably, to achieve a lifestyle that you can maintain for the rest of your life and is you want a healthy relationship with food. A wonderful book to read on this subject is Intuitive Eating by Evelyne Tribole and Elyse Resch. 

Best wishes,