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DIETS DON’T WORK! so why are we still following them?!?

FACT: People who diet are 8 times as likely to develop an eating disorder as people who don’t. And on top of that, diets are proven to NOT be effective in long-term weight loss and can be detrimental to your health.

And what do we mean by diet: Definition: a temporary and highly restrictive program of eating in order to lose weight. And, yes, most dietitians will include Paleo Diet, Clean Diet, and other diet programs that some believe to be ‘healthy’ in this category. The reason is because they are restrictive, and by their nature, difficult or unhealthy to sustain for long periods of time. Many often lead to binging, rebound eating, ‘cheating’ or burnout. Evidence supports the fact that most restrictive diets do not work for long term weight loss anyway, and many lead to eating disorder behaviors such as food obsessions, lifestyle restrictions, social alienation, and obsessive-compulsive disorder behaviors–not exactly what we would call freedom and health.

But then why are diets still so popular???

For decades, people have been drawn to a way of eating that takes the thinking out of their hands and puts it in the hands of a ‘professional’ (this ranges from actual Registered Dieticians, to self-proclaimed experts, who may have little to no actual education in the science of nutrition and bodily functions.) As you can imagine, this leads to some very irresponsible diet suggestions and flat out misinformation. Add on the fact that many diets are effective initially in the short-term, you’ve got a recipe for false hope and huge profits  for the diet-pedelars.

At Eating Disorder Center of San Diego, our dieticians work closely with clients to re-educate them around nutrition and how weight loss and weight gain happen in the body. Most clients are worried that recovery always means weight gain. Naturally, if one is severely underweight, a goal would likely be to restore their weight to a recommended range, and so some gain may occur. This is necessary because malnutrition leads to many severe risks such as heart attack, stroke, seizure, bone disease such as early onset osteopenia and osteoporosis, and many other irreversible effects.  However, in many clients, the goal is not weight gain if it is not medically necessary.  The goal may be to restore natural eating behaviors, which may have a little initial weight gain, but often a person’s weight may go down and/or stabilize once nutrition and eating disorder behaviors cease.

Eating when you are hungry, to a point of comfortable fullness, with little to no anxiety, while maintaining a natural body weight is the ultimate goal. And this comes with amazing amounts of freedom and empowerment,which we believe everyone deserves. Diets are not the answer, they are part of the problem.


– Erin Fischer, Yoga Therapist, Eating Disorder Center of San Diego

*This article is intended for those suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, in the greater San Diego area, seeking affordable treatment and services

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