Many dieters succumb to a variety of pitfalls. Here's how not to become a statistic

By Ali Hale

5 reasons most diets fail

Why most diets fail

Are you on a diet at the moment? So are millions of other women—and statistics show that the vast majority (a staggering 95 percent) won’t manage to lose weight and keep it off. So why might your diet fail? And what can you do to make sure you’re among that successful 5 percent?

1. Your diet is too strict and you end up bingeing on forbidden foods

The diet you’re following bans all your favourite foods (chocolate, cheese, ice cream, chips…) and you feel deprived. You might last a couple of weeks, feeling more and more bored with the monotony of your regime—but then you’ll crack. And when you do give in, you end up stuffing yourself with those forbidden foods to make up for days of self-denial.

Fix it: A small chocolate bar, or a single bag of chips, won’t ruin your diet. Allow yourself to have an occasional treat—just be honest about portion sizes.

2. You see your diet as a temporary fix, not a lifestyle change

Perhaps you’ve managed to lose weight in the past, for a special occasion or event. But you inevitably return to your old eating habits straight afterward—and pile the weight back on. Your diet is a quick fix, rather than a permanent change to make your lifestyle healthier.

Fix it: Use your diet as a great excuse to try out lots of new foods. Aim to change your tastes and find ways of eating healthily that you want to stick to for good. (Try Best Health's recipe database to get started.)

3. You’re too impatient for results from your diet

Once you’ve made the decision to lose weight, you want it over and done with as soon as possible. When you find that you’re losing weight at a rate of one to two pounds a week, you’re frustrated: what about all those stories of women shedding 30 pounds in a month? After a couple of weeks, you give up, convinced you’re failing because you’re not losing weight as fast as you’d like to.

Fix it: Remind yourself that it took months or years to gain that weight—it’ll take some time to lose it, too. Remember that dieters who lose weight slowly are much more likely to keep it off long-term.

4. You succumb to all-or-nothing thinking when dieting

One day, you grab a chocolate digestive with your mid-morning coffee, almost without realising. Once you’ve eaten it, you decide that your diet’s failed. You end up ignoring your planned lunch in favour of a pizza, and then get takeout for dinner. So you might as well give up for the week...

Fix it: Tell yourself, firmly, that one cookie won’t ruin your diet. One bad day doesn’t need to turn into a bad week or a bad month. Focus on making “good” food choices, not “perfect” ones.

5. Your metabolism has slowed down

If you have a history of yo-yo dieting (losing weight then gaining it again), your body will have learned to be as efficient as possible with food. That means that you’ll burn fewer calories when at rest—and when you overeat, your body will store as much fat as possible, fearing the next “famine” when you diet again. This makes it harder and harder to lose weight and keep it off.

Fix it: Exercise while dieting—this ensures your body will break down your fat stores, not your muscles, for energy. Aerobic exercise also helps keep your metabolic rate high.

Get more weight loss tips in our guide to losing weight the healthy way.

Ali Hale runs The Office Diet, a blog packed with tips and advice on healthy living for busy people.

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