It is time to end dieting as a New Year’s Resolution. I know that contradicts what you normally hear this time of year.

Many of us have bought into the idea that we need to diet (restrict) come the first of the year. Start dieting and exercise are the top 2 resolutions AND the top 2 failed resolutions.

Look at New Year’s resolutions, consider that there is this cultural norm, this really kind of shared idea, at least in the United States.

I have noticed every January the gym becomes packed with people starting their dieting. I also remember the diet facilities I attended would be packed with people come January 1.

Come March 1 it would be back to normal. I have read statistics that only 9% of people keep their New Year’s Resolution.

Why don’t New Year’s Resolutions work?

First, they’re based on what you think you should do. There is this socially accepted idea that at the beginning of the year you should have a resolution.

Second is they make you want what you don’t have. Focusing on what we don’t have (thinner body) and what we lack, then that’s what shows up is things that we don’t have and the things that we lack.

Third, New Year’s Resolutions are poorly worded and unattainable.

Lastly, resolutions look for an easy answer. It looks for just kind of what’s the simple thing or what’s the kind of “easy.” There is no easy way to make changes. Going on a diet is not easy and it is not long-term successful.

It is not surprising that dieting at the new year is the most common New Year’s Resolution. We overeat and indulge over the holidays and then “pay the price for it” by dieting come January 1. It is a process of feast and famine.

We were “bad” over the holidays and need to be “good” at the start of the year. This process engages us in the cycle of diet/restrict- binge/overeat- shame/feel bad about ourselves. We are setting ourselves up to eventually overeat.

A part of the problem is the diet industry itself.

The diet industry is a multibillion-dollar industry. I have read different statistics of the money they make, and it is $58 Billion and above and the money they make increases ever year.

Dieting industry is a failed industry. They make money because we do not lose weight and keep it off. We have all bought into the idea that if we just found the right diet or did it correctly, we would be thin.

Thinking we are not ok and we need to be “healthy.” If we were thinner, we would be healthy, attractive, in partnership, and I could go on and on.

Over the long term 80 to 95% of diets fail whereby the person gains back the weight and then some. I and people I know have experienced exactly this.

If we gain back the weight, which is a product of dieting (diet/binge/shame cycle) we need to find the next diet. We are told and tell ourselves it is our fault. We have taken on this shame message that we are at fault. Remember the diet industry makes money off us feeling bad and unworthy.

Here are some ideas for a different plan rather than dieting.

Listen to your body’s needs.

  1. What is it your body wants? Using Intuitive Eating we focus on getting back in touch with your body and what it needs.
  2. What is your body asking for? Is it asking for sleep? Is asking for water? Or is it time to take a walk, get some movement in? Is it time to have conversations and get some kind of camaraderie going on? Give your body what it needs.
  3. Listen to your body’s physical hunger. Notice what it feels like to be physically hungry and satisfied. You might not know, yet, what it feels like to be gently hungry and satisfied.

The ideas about food, dieting and New Year’s Resolutions might be new for you. Just take them in. It might be hard to consider some or try all of the ideas presented here. Take a deep breath and see which idea you might like to look at first. You are worthy of being supported in this process and allow yourself to look at your relationship to dieting.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, and Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the best-selling book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration.

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms.

Wondering if you are an emotional eater? Sign up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz.