• Louise Atkinson

The 7 surprising reasons your diet isn’t working

Updated: Oct 18, 2018


1) Have you picked the wrong plan?

In the quest to slim down it is so tempting to pick the latest trendy diet but if your chosen plan isn’t working, it might be the wrong plan for you. The science is now clear: no two people are the same – mentally or physically – and your approach to food and eating will always be a highly personal one.


We all have a unique combination of eating triggers and lifestyle factors which can get in the way of making consistently healthy food choices - a confirmed chocoholic might struggle to stick to a low-carb plan, and if you work long hours, home cooked meals might be an impossible dream.


So the decision should not be ‘what’s the best diet plan?’ but ‘what’s the best diet plan FOR ME?’ To help you decide, take our QUIZ and find out which one of six Shrinkology Types you are.


2) Are you switching plans too fast?


Many popular eating plans give only sketchy maintenance advice so it’s little wonder many of us flit from one diet to the next when weight plateaus or starts to creep back.

But abandoning one diet plan to leap straight into another will throw your body into confusion and set you on a destructive downward spiral of yo-yo dieting. Frustratingly, studies show this often leads to more and more weight gain over time as the body cling onto calories and the mind gets caught-up in an increasing sense of failure.


So before starting any plan ALWAYS check out the long-term maintenance phase – if there isn’t one, or you can’t see yourself sticking to it forever, power walk away.


3) Are you not moving enough?


There IS some truth in the old adage that losing weight is all about ‘eating a bit less and moving a bit more’ and the two elements really do work hand in hand. Large-scale reviews of research into dieting consistently show that adopting exercise into your daily life is one of the key factors in maintaining a stable weight. Studies show keeping active – even just via a ten minute walk each day - really will make you more likely to stick to your diet plan.


The key to success is picking the right form of exercise to suit you. So forget the latest trendy class or trainer and think in terms of quick-fix Hiit if you’re super-busy, deeply relaxing yin-yoga if your life is stressful, Cross-fit if you’re fired up by competition, or swimming if you’re the solitary sort.


You'll find type-specific exercise recommendations HERE (link to exercise blog post)


4) Are you mashing up your diet plans?


If you’ve tried loads of diets in the past – with some degree of success - you might find yourself creating your own hybrid version of a weight loss plan. So are you unwittingly concocting a nutritional mash-up each day that puts your body into a state of confusion? You might think you’re being healthy but this eclectic combination can be highly calorific, confusing to your body and can drive you demented with cravings. This is a very MAGPIE trait - you'll find out more about Magpies HERE.


The best way to clear a path through dieting confusion is to complete a one-week mood/food diary. Studies consistently show keeping a food diary aids diet success but by making a note of your hunger levels and/or mood every time you put something in your mouth, you can get a fascinating insight into how often – and why – you eat what you eat. In fact, studies show dieters who make a note of everything they eat and how much exercise they do can lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. So much of our eating is automatic, and you might not be consciously aware of the healthy and unhealthy elements of your diet. A food/mood diary is a great way to put you back in control.


5) Is your head in the right place?


Psychologist, Dr Meg Arroll says any diet is much more likely to work if you have got to the point where you are absolutely ready to lose weight and willing to make some changes to get there. ‘Any plan that leaves you feeling resentful or deprived is never going to work long-term,’ she says, ‘it is far better to decide that you are making changes for YOU, and to set yourself realistic, achievable and measurable goals.’


Studies show that ‘intrinsic motivation’ (which comes from within) is much more likely to lead to successful behaviour change than ‘extrinsic motivation’ (triggered by external forces such as squeezing into a certain dress or pair of jeans).


‘If you’re not really making changes for yourself it might be time to dig a bit deeper and ask why you’re not making YOU a priority,’ advises Dr Meg.


6) Have you got a spot of diet fatigue?


After the age of 30 metabolism drops by five percent per decade and from the age of 40 that decline accelerates further. The drop is perfectly natural as cells throughout our body start to slow down, but it means you’ll be burning 100 fewer calories per day at the age of 35 than you did at 25 and 200 fewer at 45. To maintain your weight, your portion sizes need to start shrinking proportionally, and to LOSE weight, you’re going to have to work a little harder each time. It could be time to try a new plan.


7) Do you really need to diet at all?


It’s so easy to get caught up in the spin of wanting to look model-skinny and to be prepared to jump through all sorts of dietary hoops to get there. But ask yourself – is weight gain is a real problem for you or could you be chasing an impossible ideal? Much better to aim for a happy sustainable weight and body shape rather than some random weight you remember being happy when you were in your teens or early twenties. It’s a far better goal to feel energetic, vibrant, strong and flexible than hungry-skinny.


* We first wrote this feature for Healthista and it was picked up by the Daily Mail


Turn to the homepage and take the free QUIZ to find out your Shrinkology type.

Our book, The Shrinkology Solution offers type-specific tips and tricks with diet recommendations that really will suit you.