Why diets don't work

First aired on Radio Noon (17/01/13)

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As we head towards February, it's likely that the majority of people who pledged to lose some excess weight in 2013 have already reverted back to their old eating habits. There's plenty of reasons why slimming down can be incredibly difficult, according to obesity specialist Dr. Ali Zentner, who you may also remember as the doctor on CBC's Village on a Diet. She stopped by Manitoba's Radio Noon to explain some of the pitfalls of weight-loss, which she further elaborates on in her new book The Weight-Loss Prescription.

dr_ali_zentner-200.jpgFor one thing, she says to forget South Beach, Atkins, or eating nothing but cabbage soup, especially if you're mostly interested in time-sensitive or short term goals (i.e. getting ready for beach season). "Think about it ... a diet has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the nature of the diet is it sort of implicitly suggests you have to suffer, you have to restrict yourself, you have to white knuckle it, as I would say, through something." In the long term, denying oneself whole groups of foods is mentally challenging and often no fun, so few people are able to stick to it for even more than a month. Also, obesity does have a close relationship with genetics, meaning one-size-fits-all diet plans may not work the same for different individuals. But don't throw in the towel on getting healthier.

"Ultimately, genetics aren't destiny and I think that's the most important message to take away from this," she said.

weight-loss-prescription-110.jpgEffective, healthy weight-loss can be better achieved by breaking long time bad habits, like ordering pizza three times a week or binging on cookies after a particularly stressful day at work. A few lifestyle changes, such as skipping the daily mocha frappe, can also add up to major results. It'll be difficult, but Zentner says the key to losing weight is to not give up on it.

"Life is rough, it's hard. I think the key is, change is hard. It's fascinating that human beings are like any other animal -- we like patterns. I would argue that the smallest thing can derail us."

"[The] one thing that it takes to lose weight? Tenacity."

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