Dieting: Confused anyone?

By Madalyn Oliver


A few weeks ago I was browsing through my local community noticeboard on Facebook when I stumbled across the following post:

“Hey all!

Anyone in this group, how have you found motivation to lose weight? And actually stick to it.

I have 16 months to lose at least 30 kilos.

Best diets etc.?”

The wide variety of conflicting advice given was overwhelming – “Lite and Easy”, “personal training”, “portion control”, “appetite suppressants”, “weight loss surgery”, “Slim Right shakes”, “eat whole foods”, “eat no more than 900 calories a day”, “Body Trim”, “juicing”, “create a calorie deficit”, “use a fit bit”, “walk 20 minutes a day”, “give up processed foods, sugar and wheat”, “try boot camp”, “calorie count”, “daily exercise”, “Isagenix”, “drink green tea”, “turn the food pyramid upside down”, “cut out all white foods”, “Michelle Bridges 12wbt”, “nutritional cleansing”, “follow the rule breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper”, “clean eating”, “Weight Watchers”, “paleo”, “Busy Slim”, “eat real food and limit processed food and sugar”, “drink two glasses of water between each bite of food”, “sugar free diet” and “Easyloss – a virtual gastric band hypnosis app”.

Whilst reading the array of responses it struck me that this post is a fairly accurate reflection of the myriad of weight loss messages we are bombarded with from the diet industry on a daily basis, whether it be from advertisements or discussions with friends about the latest weight loss product on the market. With so many clearly opposing messages, it is no wonder that people are confused about what makes a healthy diet and how to improve their health. Moreover, there seems to be a poor understanding of the fact that there is no one single way of eating or exercising that is right for all of us. Instead, we need to be intuitive and listen to what our own body needs.

It is important to remember that dieting forms the basis of a major industry that is based on the premise that diets are impossible to sustain. That is, we know statistically, most diets do not result in long term weight loss but rather most people usually end up regaining the weight that they have lost and often even end up heavier than when they started the diet.  Despite this, many of us continue to diet.

So, what’s the alternative?

At BodyMatters we believe that dieting is not effective for weight management or health. This position is becoming more widely accepted amongst educated members of the community. Pioneer of the non-dieting approach in Australia, Dr Rick Kausman, recommends making individual and sustainable behavioural changes that will, as a result, lead to a healthy and comfortable weight.

Here are some tips to help you to improve your health without dieting:

  1. Remember that there is no such thing as good food and bad food. Prescribing labels such as ‘bad’ or ‘junk’ to food often results in feelings of guilt when we eat it. If possible, try to use morally neutral labels for your food such as ‘everyday’ food and ‘sometimes’ food (Kausman, 2004).
  2. Try not to restrict foods or to place certain food groups as ‘off limits’. This will only lead to feelings of deprivation. You may also find that by allowing yourself all foods, you will eat less ‘sometimes’ food in one sitting because you know that it is ok to have it again another time.
  3. Try to eat mindfully and slow down the pace of your eating so that you can allow yourself to tune in to your body’s signals of hunger and satiety.
  4. Try to reduce the amount of non-hungry eating you engage in by checking in with yourself before you eat to ensure that you are actually not just bored, upset, lonely etc.
  5. Try not to let yourself get too hungry by ignoring your body’s hunger signals. This may lead to overeating when you eventually allow yourself the chance to eat.
  6. Plan ahead of time by packing some food with you if you are going to be out and about and think that there may not be a wide variety of food options to choose from. Often, in these situations we end up eating something that we don’t necessarily enjoy simply because it is all that is available.
  7. Move your body as often as you can, seeking out activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good.



Kausman, R. (2004). If not dieting, then what? Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin

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