Why my diet isn’t working

By Deborah Etienne-Ward

Height is largely determined by our genetics. Similarly, genetics also plays a large role in determining our weight (Silventoinen & Kaprio, 2009). We largely accept that there is variety between people in height; however, we tend to idealise a thin body shape and discriminate against other body shapes and weights.

According to set point theory the human body has a genetically predisposed weight range. This weight range is different for everyone. Even two people that are the same height may have different natural weight ranges.

When we restrict food intake and fall below our natural weight range our body has mechanisms to try to re-gain weight and get back to our natural weight range.  It does this by increasing hunger, increasing our thoughts about food, and decreasing our metabolism.

When we are hungry and cannot stop thinking about food we are much more likely to lose control and engage in binge eating. This is why diets often do not work.

So what alternate do we have to dieting and valuing the thin ideal?

  • Accept and respect the variety of body shapes and sizes.
  • Reject the idealisation and stigmatisation of specific weights.
  • Accept your own natural body shape.
  • If you are suffering from hunger and constant thoughts of food you will need to allow yourself to return to your natural weight range to recover.
  • Eat flexibly without food rules.
  • Use your hunger and satiety cues to determine when to eat and how much to eat.
  • Eat for wellbeing considering your nutritional needs and pleasure.

Our team at Body Matters is experienced in helping people to accept their body shape and size. We have a team of psychologists and a dietician who can help with shape and weight concerns and nutritional advice. Please contact us for further information.


Silventoinen, K., & Kapiro, J. (2009). Genetics of Tracking of Body Mass Index from Birth to Late Middle Age: Evidence from Twin and Family Studies. Obesity Facts. 2(3), 196-202. doi:10.1159/000219675

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