I've had a long & varied career helping people to lose weight and improve their health. Over my many years I've worked not only as a dietitian, but as the editor of a health magazine, held weekly radio discussions on food and remain the Chair of the Freelance dietitians and in addition I am a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. During the course of my career I've been inundated by people who all ask the same question: "Why didn't my diet work?"
The truth is that fad diets in general can't work. People tend to think of diets as something that they go "on" or "off", depending on their goals. Diets tend to be triggered by one of a limited number of factors: lifestyle, training or illness. When it comes to their lives, people have what dietitians call lifestyle triggers - a wedding, a holiday or some other event that they want to look good for. The trouble is that once this event is passed, they tend to continue the bad habits that led them to want to make that change in the first place. Sometimes the same thing can happen in fitness - once the marathon is run, that pizza looks too tempting to resist! Often people are only forced into making a real and permanent change to their diet by that final factor; their health. Diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, IBS and heart disease- not only can these things be aided by diet, in many cases and with the right support they can have significant improvements and in some conditions entirely reversed.
You could go on a fad diet - and we've seen a huge rise in popularity among these in recent years, but because you are unique and individual, with specific needs and specific triggers, this "off the peg" approach to dieting can't work for everyone. We are all unique and our diets need to work around us and our lifestyles and one diet can not fit everyone. 'One man's meat is another man's poison', goes the saying - quite possibly the originator of that phrase was a dietitian! As a result of the rise of the fad diet, people tend to think of their diet as something they can simply buy into for a period. Dietitians see it again and again, the same pattern repeating with almost every dieter - people lose the weight one month, only to regain it a month or two down the line.
Diet mustn't be something you should look at as something you're "on" or "off", but a way of life. We must learn to eat all over again, in a way that won't negatively affect our health and our waistlines! It is our behaviour towards eating that needs to change.
One of the biggest flaws in dieting is that people don't have a feedback loop or much in the way of real support. It's a proven fact that couples who go on diets together have a better success rate than those who choose to 'go it alone'. If people work with a partner or a trusted friend their diets tend to stick. Being a dietitian I often am the point of contact that helps people to benefit from a human element that is entirely lacking in the fad diet trend.
A dietitian focuses on understanding exactly what people want to achieve, and then works with them to achieve those goals one challenge at a time. Really it is balance that is the key factor in being successful at weight loss and not just briefly being healthy but consistently remaining healthier. Believe me, quite literally EVERYBODY is going to "cheat" or fall off the wagon at some point, and every dietitian knows that.
We live in an age of technology, allowing a dietitian to be on the end of a phone or on a video call, to help people to ensure that their health goals are reached and sustained for life. We can even use smartphone apps to support people wherever they are, whether its to make them look good for that wedding, to help with their IBS or to be fit enough to run a triathlon.
Better health without having to resort to a fad diet is something that everybody deserves. If there's an app for your cinema, or an app for your taxi, why don't we start using one for our health? Using technology combined with expert human contact can help us all understand how diet affects our health and be empowered to make more positive choices to help more of us lose the weight, and keep it off.