Oprah: Science Says It Won’t Be Different This Time

Dear Oprah Science

Oprah got me. She seduced me. Her words, the rhythm, the soothing tones.

I felt the surge of empowerment and everlasting change.

But just as I was being swept up by her promises, I woke up out of my reverie.  Before I knew it, I was throwing my remote across the room, *thankfully* just missing the TV.

I rewound the Oprah Weight Watcher commercial and listened to her words and now I am pissed. You should be too. She is selling us a fantasy.

Each weight loss quest gives us hope. We feel ⎯ this time for sure.  As we make our rigid food lists of “eat this not that“, our minds may feel clearer. Safer. The start of a diet engages our minds in a seductive fantasy of a new day involving happiness, acceptance, and peace.

Fantasy.

Oprah speaks about fellow fat women as the target for her campaign because, paraphrasing here: fat women cannot be enough and true to themselves until there is less of them. I disagree: you are enough today, just as you are and at your current weight.

Here’s a dose of reality.

Like this post? Read my reaction to Oprah Winfrey buying into Weight Watchers.

Some are not meant to live in a body with a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 25

Your body prefers that you weigh a certain amount. It may or may not fit within that narrow BMI weight range. Fighting your genetics and set point sets you up to eat for weight loss, NOT health. Eating for health includes variety, moderation and balance, as well as following hunger and fullness cues. Many Weight Watcher dropouts share they were told NOT to follow hunger cues;  rather, follow the points.Weight Watchers would have you believe that their point system isn’t a diet, just a way of life.  Yet, if it isn’t a diet, then why do they need any points? Why the need to check weight at all? Pursuing weight loss and ignoring hunger cues means you’re  eating for weight loss, not eating for health.

Dieting predicts weight gain

In her weight loss commercial, Oprah mentions “trying and failing, trying again, and again, and again”. I know that many can relate to this; yet why will this time be different? Researchers have long known that diets don’t work, and it’s only a matter of time how quickly the weight comes back on. Reviewing research, we find those who focus on weight loss dieting weigh more. Crazy, right?!?

Considering this information, Oprah didn’t fail. Nor did you. The diet did. Would you buy a product or service that fails over and over? Let’s not let the diet industry get away with this. Here’s fabulous content from Evelyn Tribole RD, explaining why dieting predicts weight gain.

No diet keeps weight off more than a year or two

There’s no research to date that shows any diet, no matter how wildly popular it is, actually keeps the weight off for more than one year. Not one. Most scholarly journals publishing articles on dieting stop at one year or earlier. Articles that look further out than a year have incredibly high dropout rates.

You can live without dieting. Here’s how and why.

Not dieting will make you healthier

Taking time away from diets will help your body stop weight cycling. The yo-yo effect negatively impacts insulin levels, inflammation, and blood pressure. Selecting foods with their sole purpose of losing weight can hurt your health over time instead of improving it. Even if your weight is higher than your body prefers (which it may not be!), ending the yo-yo dieting and weight cycling will be the best investment in your health.

Stop dieting to stop bingeing

Lastly, stepping away from weight loss pursuits will give you the opportunity to feel less craving to binge. Do you feel chaos around food when not dieting? Don’t blame yourself or the food — blame the dieting. Within my clinical work with bingeing behavior, my clients stop bingeing only after they stop dieting.

This January, our eyeballs will be saturated with Before-and-After pictures. They will be amazing. Some unbelievable. Before you let yourself get seduced, remember that it is just a fantasy. Those pictures make it seem like anyone can lose weight permanently when that is possible for just 3% of those who diet.

Remember to ask, what happens after after?

Will you stop the diet cycle? If not now, when?