Why Diets Fail

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

What is the solution to over-eating and obesity? Nigerians are trying several ways to deal with obesity. Presently, some use over-the-counter aids (appetite depressant, etc.) diets of many kinds, group therapy, punishment and reward techniques, even prayer and fasting. But few have experienced lasting result.

Diet researchers have come to one conclusion: there is no completely successful method of dieting that works for everyone over a sustained period of time. Most adults who lose weight return to their original overweight condition within two years after they stop dieting. That is definitely not success.

I have known dozens of individuals who have struggled with their own methods of diet control. Many have sought trained medical advice and been given all kinds of slimming drugs. But drugs have not solved their weight problem.

Instead, they got hooked, became nervous and have personality changes. Recently, an undergraduate from one of the Nigerian universities called to tell me she is overweight and will really need my help. I asked her few questions and her answers revealed that she had been on a slimming drug and she wanted me to recommend another type of drug that will help her lose weight.

Drugs and other weight-loss techniques often postpone or prevent our finding a permanent solution to diet problems.



When we begin a diet, we usually have something motivating us to lose weight. It may be to:

– look better in a fitted dress

-become more physically attractive

-get a new job

-overcome a health problem

-attract the opposite sex

-become more self confident


All of these reasons are related to what we think, feel and want. They all revolve around our selfish desire.

People who lose weight for these reasons don’t keep it off. In more than 90% of the cases,most people who diet regain the weight they have lost. And many regain more than their original weight.

The problem with this kind of motivation is that it isn’t good enough. Motivation to change must come from a higher and stronger source than ourselves. It must come from within —from our desire to be in line with the will of God for our lives.

The word “diet”comes from the Greek word meaning “manner of living”. Our diets are a way of life. The way we eat and the reason that we diet tells a lot about our general well-being.

I understand that eating nutritiously in this day and age can be a challenge. But whenever possible, shop for lean meats, e.g. cow leg, chicken, fish, eggs (for adults, eat more of the egg whites and less of the egg yolk). Also, combination of beans and corn (like in moinmoin and pap or eko). Simply put: one cup of cooked beans eaten with 1/2 cup pap (made from millet) forms a complete meal

Dairy: use more of fat free milk and yoghurt. As we speak, some people are confused about milk. They ask questions like- Does milk really do the body good? To drink or not to drink? That is the burning question. My take on this is to go on low fat or skimmed milk. Components in the milk include calcium, zinc and Vitamin A. You can limit milk intake to twice a week .

High-carbohydrate: four servings of carbs like ofada rice/brown rice (for white refined, parboiled rice, six table spoonful of rice is adviced per meal. Whole-wheat bread, or high-carbohydrate vegetables are potatoes (white and sweet) yams, corn. A serving is a slice, 1cup of cold or hot pap, rice.

Fats: Two tablespoons a day for health and flavouring. And use oils moderately, especially palm oil. There are also some heart friendly oils, and you can also use small amount of healthy butter for spreads. What matters is the accumulation over the week. If one day is short on fats, you can make it up the next day. If you eat too many fats one day…..oops, accident do happen! Then cut back on them the next day. Fats should only total 20-25 percent of your calories. Check labels and buy foods with 20% fat or lower.

Fruits: One fruit a day is a huge plus. It may not be really easy getting fruits everyday, but you can try. It is good to vary them. Choose the most common fruits in season and enjoy them. Presently, Mango, Watermelon and some other fruits are available; or some other fruits depending on which is best for your system.

Vegetables: One serving is equivalent to 1/2 cup cooked or raw, one cup leafy, salads, soups. Always have one or two vegetables accompanying your lunch and dinner. Toss chopped onions, tomatoes and pepper into low fat (non cholesterol oil). You can eat low-carb vegetables all day long if you want! When you get hungry grab some carrot sticks to crunch on.

Here is a quick vegetable recipe: dice or slice your favourite vegetables and add cooked protein like fish or chicken, salt and pepper. Toss them all into a pot. Simmer mixture for fifteen minute, and enjoy! You can eat with yam, rice, beans etc.

Make fitness a priority. Lifestyle fitness is not difficult or complicated. Simply by getting more active, and moderate eating you are taking a positive step towards a lifetime of health and fit living.

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