The Dieting Loop

Jan 23, 2024

Having been running weight loss and diabetes remission clinics since 2018 there are a few mistakes that I see people making time and time again.

In this article I’m going to highlight one of them with the intent of raising awareness, which I hope in turn will lead to positive action.

Because one thing that’s becoming clear to me is that:

What do I mean by this? Well I believe one mindset will help you to lose weight, but the same mindset won’t help you keep it off.

But it’s not just a mentality: it is also a strategy.

For me to explain what I mean by this I need to identify a big mistake I see many doing:

The Dieting Loop

So what is this?

This is the traditional idea of a diet. It can be any diet; calorie counting, low fat and even the low carb diet. The mentality behind a diet tends to be around what you can’t eat. A state of restriction. A state where you think of food as either good or bad and try to navigate the world according to these rules.

And you find yourself either ‘on it’ or not. Like a switch ‘on’ or ‘off’.

This idea of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

I consider this as a loop because we repeat these loops throughout our life.

You go on a diet, you do well, you then struggle to stick to it, you come off and then you restart. This is what I mean by a dieting loop. You want to be on it all the time, but you also know you probably won’t be able to stick to it.

But actually this mentality is flawed. Going through seasons in this way isn’t the best for your overall health. What would be ideal of course is eating healthy 100% of the time, but we all know that living the way we do, this gets very difficult, nearly impossible.

As this statistic shows: the strategy of going on and off a diet isn’t working.

And it isn’t working because it’s actually teaching our bodies to gain weight without us realising.


But whichever ‘diet’ you try; it will be the same – this on and off switch where you are restricting either what you’re eating or how much.


Let’s think about a diet. If we consider how little our bodies have evolved since the caveman days it makes sense that we fear weight loss. Imagine living in your cave. You are a hunter gatherer, it is January, it’s cold, it’s miserable and you haven’t seen a gazelle for a few days. In fact you haven’t eaten a proper meal for a few weeks. Your brain will be reacting to this. This is the exact same scenario that occurs when you suddenly decreased your calories as with a traditional diet. Your subconscious brain doesn’t know the cause of the decrease in weight, it only knows there’s less food going in.


And the effect – a hormone cascade all designed to make you regain weight?

If your body detects a decrease in weight regardless of the cause it will cause you to feel and act differently. You heart rate will decrease, your temperature will drop just enough to make you feel cold all the time, your mood will dip, your energy levels will diminish and you will think and dream of food all the time.


You may have already experienced these feelings in the past?


These changes are all designed to make you regain weight.


When we consider the dieting loop, it is a trap, people find themselves going round and round in it. Because we do the same mistake over and over. We restrict our diets, we only think about food and we only plan for the short-term.


But there’s a bigger problem.

Because it teaches your body to gain weight.


The more diets you’ve done the harder it is & the less chance there is of it working. Your body is far cleverer than you think, it’s learning all the time and it’s primed to survive famine.


Your brain has ways of sabotaging your weight loss.


Changing what your eating is the tip of the iceberg.

The default ‘diet mode’ is to just change the food, without considering the whole iceberg underneath. We forget about getting the right amount of sleep, managing stress, our gut microbiome.


Humans love a short-cut! We know that it’s the food we eat that makes a difference to our weight so we go all in on this. But it’s a short-term strategy. A short-term strategy that makes the long-term strategy harder to implement because your body is learning to play against you.


So when I say what got you here won’t get you there; what I specifically refer to is that changing what your eating alone will not help you keep weight off long-term.


So how do we approach this dilemma in our programme?


Sticking and maintaining weight loss is about learning systems and psychology.

We help people move away from these big shifts in seasons of being either ‘on’ or ‘off’. And work towards being ‘on’ more of the time but still enjoying life.


The people that have been most successful have systems that are so ingrained that they don’t have to search for motivation because it is already their default mode. It becomes easier to be healthy than not.


These blog posts cover a span of topics for a reason. You may not instantly see why sleep can help you lose weight, why group coaching can impact your likelihood of success, or why the bacteria in our bowel are important for treating diabetes. But without learning and understanding you are missing large pieces of the jigsaw that make keeping weight off difficult to achieve.

If this has been of interest and you are not yet receiving fortnightly emails then please add your name to our waiting list (by clicking ‘home’ at the top)



Want to learn more?

The Lifestyle Clinic Hub is the best place to see all our posts, videos and downloads so you can get started with using lifestyle as medicine straight away. 

Get access now
Back to Blog