top of page

Why Diets Fail: Understanding the Science Behind Failed Weight Loss Attempts

By Erica F Perusse

"Why isn't it working? I did what they suggested, which worked initially, but now I seem to have hit a plateau!" Have you ever found yourself uttering this or something similar? It can be a frustrating experience.

The beliefs in a diet often stem from the desire to achieve specific health or fitness goals, such as weight loss, improved energy levels, or better overall wellbeing. 

"Diet culture" is a pervasive belief that prioritizes thinness, appearance, and shape over overall health and wellbeing. It's a toxic mindset that promotes calorie restriction, encourages negative self-talk, and categorizes certain foods as either "good" or "bad ." Those exposed to these messages are often conditioned to believe that being thin and following a strict diet leads to good health and that prioritizing health makes them morally superior to others.

But the truth is that diet culture is harmful and can lead to disordered eating habits, feelings of guilt and shame around food, and a negative impact on mental health. It's important to prioritize overall health and wellbeing, rather than simply focusing on weight and appearance.


Cultural and societal norms play a significant role in shaping beliefs about diets. Media, social trends, and our peers' influence can contribute to adopting a specific dietary practice. While this has come a long way in recent years, you still see bogus topics like "Lose 20 pounds in one month!" with photos that make you think, "I want that magic! Maybe this one will do the trick!" Not to mention, some diet trends promote their diet model as a "nondiet" with credentials behind them --which does not help!

The fact is, diets have been proven over and over again that they are not set to work. Why are we still believing in them? Diet trends and the diet culture will never stop, and we encourage you to seek a more attainable and sustainable focus on your nutrition and wellbeing.  

Achieving long-term success with diets can be challenging for various reasons. While individual experiences may vary, here are some common factors contributing to the lack of long-term success with diets and tips on how to change that:

Have realistic expectations.

This means no more unrealistic quick fixes. I am sorry, but it's time to focus on sustainable changes and gradual progress.

Let go of harsh restrictions.

Extreme restrictions often lead to feelings of deprivation, making it harder to stick to a diet. Opt for balanced and varied meals that you enjoy.

Make it personal.

Say goodbye to the "lack of individualized diets"! Those one-size-fits-all diets do not typically consider your individual needs, preferences, and lifestyles. Customizing your approach based on your unique requirements can enhance long-term adherence.

Focus on long-term as well as short-term goals.

Viewing a diet as a short-term solution can lead to regaining lost weight once the diet is abandoned. Become mindful and adopt a lifestyle approach, making permanent changes for lasting results.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

The fact is, there is science behind emotional eating. Restriction is not going to help the situation long term. It is time to face the emotions and develop healthier coping mechanisms, and addressing emotional triggers is crucial.

Do activity you enjoy.

Relying solely on a diet without incorporating regular physical activity may hinder long-term success. Aim for a balanced approach that includes both your nutrition and body movement. 

Gain knowledge that will last a lifetime.  

Diets tend to be short-term and do not tell you what to do "once the diet is over."  - Understanding nutrition and making informed choices is important. Educate yourself about nutrition through a nutrition expert (like a dietitian) to make sustainable and health-conscious decisions.

Create a sound support system.

Social events and environments can pose challenges to diet adherence. Learn to navigate social situations and create supportive environments for your health goals.

Address underlying health issues.  

Diets may not always address underlying issues such as hormonal imbalances, medical conditions, or unhealthy habits. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help identify and address these factors.

No more inconsistency.

Consistency is key to long-term success. Establishing healthy habits and routines can contribute to lasting changes in dietary patterns.

While some forms of diets are helpful in certain situations, they should not be considered a "quick fix" sort of thinking. NWE focuses on you and aims to give you the knowledge, accountability, and support you deserve. 

To change the cycle of unsuccessful diets, consider working with a registered dietitian who can provide personalized guidance. Nourished with Emily coaches focus on making gradual, sustainable changes that align with your individual needs and preferences. Additionally, we prioritize your overall wellbeing rather than just weight loss as a measure of success. 

We want to be there for our clients in those in-between moments. We want to win with you and be there for our clients every moment. And we would like to help get you on the path of nutrition and wellness that works long-term for you.


bottom of page