Failing at diets.
I remember those days when I would embark on a new journey in trying to lose weight. My inner critic would tell me I always failed to lose weight, failed at diets. But I’d talk back to her and say, not this time!
Hi I’m Barbara Orban and I’m a former yo-yo dieter, binge eater, emotional eater, you name it, I was that. I went through years of trying to manage my eating, manage my weight with diets, eating healthy, exercise, diet pills, detoxes, wraps etc. My weight would sometimes fluctuate 10kg every year or two and I always had my “fat” clothes and my “slim” clothes. It wasn’t until I started looking at my eating behaviors rather than a specific diet or exercise routine that things started to change.
Before: When I used to diet VS Now: I changed my eating behaviours
After years of research and trial and error I have finally managed to improve my quality of life and no longer fret over what goes in my mouth. Although losing weight involves a multifaceted approach I’d like to talk today about one of the biggest reasons why diets fail, that is often overlooked.
Our tendency to see ourselves as a failure when we are unable to stick to a particular meal plan.
Here is a preview of what my former life used to be like.
I was always so excited to follow a new meal plan that promised results with successful testimonials
I would just look at the hundreds of before and after photos and become obsessed with their results and tell myself it has to work for me.
At the start I had extreme motivation when I would go grocery shopping. Walking past the chocolate isle with ease, so determined to lose the weight that I had zero temptation. Feeling indestructible, nothing could stop me. The trolley was filled with only vegetables and fruits, lean meats and whole-grains.
It’s my new ‘lifestyle’
The start of the journey would go great. The gratification of feeling lighter would keep me going. Feelings of empowerment and determination are in the forefront of my mind. Workouts would happen as planned, meals happening as planned. As a result of zero sugar, I had no cravings whatsoever.
Then about 2 weeks on the plan I’d notice some cravings popping up. Frustration would set in because the scale didn’t move down at all. As a result, feelings of embarrassment rushed over me because felt like I was putting so much effort into it but not getting anywhere. But I’d keep on pushing myself. Keep persisting, I’d tell myself, just keep on fighting the cravings.
Hopping on the scales again and seeing that the weight has gone down! I’d tell myself:
“YES! It is working! I am a health guru! I am so good at this healthy lifestyle I am going to eat like this FOREVER! The weight will just keep coming off as long as I continue this.”
The battle after a stressful day
I’d get home, I was tired, hungry and cranky. So then I’d fix my healthy dinner of vegetables and chicken. After dinner, I’d realize I’m not satisfied. An idea would niggle at me saying that I have lost some weight so I deserve a treat. There was nothing satisfying in the house, so I’d start hunting for remains of something that resembles a sweet. Open up a block of old cooking chocolate from who knows when that has been in the cupboard for years, desperate just to have something sweet. Not satisfying, at all. Yet I polish off a couple of rows.
I go to the cupboard searching for more food to satisfy me. It’s like something has taken over my brain. I can see what I’m doing but I can’t actually stop it. I reach for some of the peanut butter and toast some old bread from the freezer. I scoff that down feeling guilty the whole time yet thinking about a trip to the supermarket to get something more satisfying.
I would go to the supermarket and start buying chocolate, ice-cream and chips. It would feel as though everyone knew I was cheating my diet and judging me, so I would defend myself in my head. Reassuring myself why I deserved to do this. The binges would start in the car, already opening the food. Not even tasting it. Just shovelling it into my mouth feeling somewhat guilty yet numbing the feeling with the food coma until I felt sick.
The morning after
The moment I would wake up I would feel an instant combination of guilt and anxiety rush over me. The disgust of all the food I ate. All the hard work I had put in, I felt like it was all wasted.
The scale reading has gone up. I am officially a failure again. Why do I have an inability to just stick with it?
The rest of the day I would feel depressed. Hungry constantly, all I could think about is food. There would be a constant argument in my head as to why I should only eat “clean”, yet my body just wants more bread and chocolate.
Why there is an inability to just stick to it
Knowing so much more now, I understand why all of this would happen to me and why I used to fail at diets.
My perception of eating was very black and white, I saw myself as a failure if I didn’t stick to it or wasn’t losing weight. There was no room for failure, no flexibility and no compassion. Only hatred towards myself and feelings of guilt and failure. As a result food became the enemy. But food is not meant to be the enemy, it’s meant to be tasted, meant to be enjoyed, to satisfy, not just to eat in order to lose weight.
What helps in the end
Start with letting go of the need to be perfect. Understand that there is no “perfect” diet, there is no “magic” pill, or shake. All you need is you, your imperfect self. Your slip ups and all. View all foods as equal – this means no more categories and ‘forbidden foods’. Take this quote from Gal Gadot – the actor who plays Wonder Woman she says:
“I don’t restrict myself; I can eat everything. It’s all a matter of measurements and quantity of the food.”
Photo: Gal Gadot’s Instagram
The take home from that is – I eat everything. Now if this woman playing wonder woman can eat pasta and chocolate then why the hell can’t you? Before you start telling yourself you don’t have a fast metabolism, stop. I was a former binge eater. I used to envy girls who ate fries and pasta and stayed slim. I used to struggle with diets. I used to believe I had a slow metabolism and couldn’t eat what I wanted. I am not that girl anymore. Now people look at me and wonder how I stay slim and still get to eat pasta when I want it.
You can do the same.
Schedule in some food you enjoy in your day today. Give yourself permission to eat it. Take note of any feelings and beliefs that come up. But most of all, feel satisfied. Let go of the guilt and just feel satisfied.
Barbara Orban is a health and nutrition coach with vast knowledge in nutritional psychology. She also has certificates in personal training and works as a dental practitioner. She dealt with a lot of eating issues in her twenties and would like to develop a program for women and work one-on-one with women who suffer from chronic dieting and eating for reasons other than hunger. She has developed a website called
and a private Facebook group for women called “The No Diet Movement”
*Please have a look at both Barbara’s website & facebook page!
Thanks for reading!
Love Sooz xx