Done with Dieting Episode #2: Why Dieting Doesn’t Work

Diets have been around for centuries as a form of manipulating our weight and bodies. And so it would be impossible to escape any messages that we have received – overt or implied – about the worthiness of our body, and therefore how to increase our worthiness by shrinking our body through restricting calories and/or over-exercising.

But diets can have negative side effects on the dieter, from negative body image, low self-esteem, but there can also be biological implications to eating lower calorie counts than the body requires that result in increased hunger and the body rebounding from the lower than required calories by increasing body fat stores.

Dieting and negative body image are inextricably linked. So how do we get ourselves out of this cycle? And what are the next steps?

What you’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Learn the difference between diets with a big d versus small d
  • Begin to understand how diets have influenced our body image, as well as our relationship with food and exercise
  • Understand that it’s not your fault, but now that we’re aware, we get to decide if we want to continue to buy into it.
  • And most importantly, how to begin to heal the relationships with our self, our body, food, and exercise.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


  1. Our beliefs about foods
    1. Have you labeled food good or bad? Which ones? Which foods are good? Which are bad? Why? Where did you learn that?
    2. If there were no good or bad foods, would you know how to eat? Another way of saying this, is if there were no rules to follow about how to eat, would you know how to eat?
    3. Notice – are there are foods that you ‘can’t have’ – allergies/intolerances withstanding?
  2. Beliefs about your body 
    1. What beliefs do you hold about your body? Good, bad, that it is or is not like other people’s bodies? 
    2. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
    3. Would you say the things that you say about your body to your best friend or daughter? If not, why is it okay to say those things to yourself?
  3. Believing that things will be different once we get to that goal weight
    1. Do you have a closet full of different sized clothes – some from 20 years ago? What feelings pop up for you if you think about throwing away everything that doesn’t fit?
    2. Do you buy clothes that don’t fit you? Why do you do that?
    3. How will things be different when you get to your goal weight? Will you be happier? More confident? Feel in control? Organized? Will you be lovable? Will your family respect you? What exactly will change?
  4. Thoughts about diets
    1. Do you judge yourself for falling off diets? Or not being able to stay on a diet?
    2. Do you shy away from telling people about what you’re eating & why
    3. Are you up on the latest diet trends? Is this a topic of conversation with the other women in your life?
    4. Do you engage in diet-speak? Do you comment on other people’s food? Do you use the terms ‘good or bad’ when referring to yourself: I was good today, or I was bad.

If you stopped thinking about food, and your body, I’d like you to think about how much more brain space you would have – what else would you be able to accomplish in life?

BONUS QUESTION: If you were on a deserted island, would you still believe these same thoughts?

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Done with Dieting Podcast, episode number two.

Hi, I’m Elizabeth Sherman, former corporate high tech executive turned light and weight loss coach. But it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was searching for that perfect diet, you know, the one that would finally be the magic pill to lose the weight that I so desire.

Fast forward has tons of failed diets, endless hours of exercise and painful lessons learned. And although I still have not reached the state of Nirvana body love bliss that I truly desire, my relationship with food exercise and my body is infinitely better than it was not only when I started this journey, but even as recently as three years ago.

This journey has allowed me to ditch my scale, stop logging my food and exercise, eat food that wasn’t prepared by me, and I can easily maintain my weight, something that I never thought was possible. I created the Done with Dieting Podcast to give you simple, easy to do and sustainable strategies, and ideas to help you do the exact same thing without all of the drama that I went through.

If you’re a woman who’s looking to create a better relationship with food, exercise and her body, get off the diet, roller coaster, and free up all of that headspace spent on calories, how you look what you should eat, and beating yourself up for not doing what you think you should be doing. You are in the right place.

Let’s get started.

Hi there. Welcome to the show. Dieting and controlling food intake as a form of manipulating the appearance of our bodies has been around for centuries. And I remember being in the fourth grade and learning how Greeks would have these amazing parties. And there was this room or this spittoon or something off to the side, it was a place that folks could go to vomit for the purpose of being able to continue to eat and drink and have fun at the party.

The Greeks did this because they believed that a healthy body was indicative of a healthy mind.

Dieting and manipulating our food has been around for centuries. And so it totally makes sense that we would have been brought up in a society that still subscribes to these ideas.

Not long ago, a client of mine said to me, I don’t know how to nutrition anymore. And we laughed about it. But I think it’s something that so many of us struggle with, at least I know that I did. I had all of these food rules in my head. And if you’ve ever seen one of those sci fi movies where they go inside a computer, and you see all of the equations happening, like that’s totally what was happening in my head when I would sit down and try and figure out what I could eat.

I had all of these rules and all of these calculations of calories and food macros and what things were good for me and which things weren’t, and it made it so completely overwhelming. And I talked to women all the time who’ve been on a diet since they were 15, 12, or even 9 years old. And unfortunately, this is more common than it is uncommon.

Most of us were put on diets from parents who also had unhealthy relationships with food and their bodies. For many of us, we can identify ourselves as chronic dieters, when we look at our past, we see a string of past weight loss attempts, some of which were successful in getting us to our goal.

But ultimately, they were unsustainable at best. Eventually, we just went off of them and regained the weight that we’d originally lost diets work on a form of restriction, either calories or nutrients. And most of the diets that we see are a combination of both restricting calories and nutrients.

And it kills me when I look back at old pictures of myself when I was dieting and thinking that I was fat at the time, hating my body, wishing that my body would be different.

When I look back at old pictures of myself, I just have such compassion and empathy for that younger woman and girl. There was nothing wrong with her body at the time. She was absolutely perfect as she was she did not need to be on a diet.

Let’s take a minute and define what diet is. Webster’s dictionary actually has three different definitions.

The first definition is food and drink regularly provided or consumed or habitual nourishment. So I refer to this as diets with a small d, the way that I naturally eat.

There’s another definition, which is the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person for a special reason. And so when we think about those types of diets, we think about the American Heart Association, the DASH diet, a plant based diet, or perhaps the Mediterranean diet. Again, these are all diets that I still consider to be a small d, because they are sustainable, they become a natural way of eating for most people, and they’re actually quite healthy.

Now those are diets with a small d, the way that we just naturally eat the foods that make up our daily intake.

Now there’s another definition, which is diets with a big D. Webster’s defines this as a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly, so as to reduce one’s weight. There are tons of diets with a big D out there, the way that I define diets with a big D is a way of eating designed to quickly lose weight at any cost.

What’s really interesting is that sometimes a diet with a big D can actually become conflated with a diet with a small d, for example, intermittent fasting, depending on how you think about it could be something that is really restrictive, but for many people, that’s just how they naturally eat. They just don’t eat breakfast, and they start eating at lunch.

For one person, intermittent fasting could be a diet with a big D. But for someone else, it could just be the way that they eat.

What we want to think about is the energy that we use behind the way that we eat. What are the reasons that we are choosing the foods that we’re eating? And the meal timing? Is it because we’re trying to do it to lose weight? Are we doing it so that we can control our environment? Or are we doing it because it’s just the way that makes us feel better?

And so my goal for creating this podcast is to actually move us all over into an area where we are more in touch with how our body likes to receive food, and what food it thrives on.

And so some of you might be asking yourself, why is dieting so harmful? Why do we have to have this conversation.

So diets really don’t work long term, after five years, 95% of the people who have lost weight on a diet before will have regained it. And so we know that diets can get us to a certain place. But what I see time and time again, is that we haven’t learned the correct way of fueling our bodies. And so when we go off of that diet, what will happen is when we start eating again, normally, we will regain all of that weight back.

And I totally remember actually being in my kitchen and making that realization that, oh, if I do these things, I’ll lose weight. But then when I go off of the diet, then I will regain it again. And it was a huge lightbulb moment for me, diets really aren’t concerned with our health, because if they did, then they would provide ways of going off of the diet.

And what I see over and over and over again, is that most diets really just want to sell, they want to sell their books, they want to sell their supplements or their other products associated with that. And so those diets don’t have the consumers best interest at heart.

And the other thing that’s really glaring when I started becoming a weight loss coach is that diets really don’t address the reasons that we are overweight in the first place. And there are tons of different reasons why our bodies look the way that they do.

Number one is genetics, we can look at our parents and our family of origin, look at them and figure out how our body is supposed to look. And I have a really great story about this. In college, I had a friend who was adopted, she ultimately met her birth mom. And I remember just looking at the both of them. And seeing that their body shapes were completely identical there, the slump of their shoulders, their body size, even though they had lived in completely different environments. So our genetics play a huge part in what we look like physically.

Number two is overeating. Many of us have extra weight on us because we overeat. And until we really uncover the reasons that we’re eating for reasons other than hunger, then we will never get out of the diet mentality and be able to have a relationship with food that is not restrictive.

Medication can also play a huge part in gaining weight or retaining weight.

And then finally our past if we’ve had an Any trauma in our history that can certainly influence not only our relationship with food, but also how we carry our weight. And so there can be some really harmful byproducts of dieting as well.

Number one is believing that food is good or bad when we believe that food has some sort of quality of these are good foods, and these are bad foods, what will happen is, when we eat those foods that we deemed to be bad, we will consider ourselves to be bad as well. And I see this also a lot when we eat foods that are good. And just be aware when you start noticing your language around, oh, I was good today, or I was bad today.

And so when we eat foods that are good or bad, we kind of assume that eating good foods will then transfer to us and when we eat bad foods that that will transfer to us as well.

Another harmful byproduct of dieting is the beliefs that we have about our body and what we think about it.

Since body image and dieting are inextricably linked, it’s no wonder that when we think that there’s something wrong with our body, we will do something like diet to control how it appears. And so I grew up in the era of Seventeen Magazine, and Cosmopolitan magazine. And there wasn’t a lot of diversity represented on those pages.

If you see me, I am a white cis-gendered heterosexual woman. And I look pretty traditional. But even I growing up didn’t feel like I fit in. And so it’s really easy to believe that I needed to conform to the images that I saw in those magazines, and all of the articles that supported that in the magazine that promoted ways of being able to look like the models on screen, like this is what diet this person is doing. And this person is only eating 1200 calories per day. And so it’s really easy to believe that our body is wrong if we don’t see representation of what our body looks like out in the world.

Another harmful byproduct of dieting is due to the fact that diet and workout programs are sold to us in a way that tell us that we aren’t good enough as we are. And so often we’ll believe that things will be different when we become this smaller size. And this relates to the point earlier about our body not being good enough that we will naturally believe that there are going to be rainbows and butterflies on the other side of our goal weight that once we step on the scale.

So once we get on the scale, and it reads 150 pounds, that all of a sudden there will be rainbows and butterflies, that there won’t be rainbows and butterflies. If the scale says 151 or 152. Like At what point do the rainbows and butterflies show up?

The way that diets and workout programs have been sold to us is that we will be so much better off when we finally get to our goal weight, and that we need to do this one thing in order to get there.

The last reason that I have and there are tons of reasons of why dieting is harmful, the last one that I just want to bring up right now is that those thoughts that we have about ourselves and our ability to stay on diets, so many of us are have this huge fear of failure. Because we see in our past this string of failed diet attempts, we see other people being able to do these diets. And we ask ourselves, why can’t I do this diets? What’s wrong with me that I can’t follow these simple, simple direction. And so we keep seeking more and more information, thinking that more information is what’s going to make the difference.

So this is actually part of my story. And that when I started my weight loss process, I thought that if I had all of the information, then it would automatically make sense to me that if I knew everything that there was to know about nutrition and exercise, then magically, I would become the size that I wanted to be that I would automatically become slim.

And it was so frustrating for me. Because I had all of this information I knew what to do. I’m sure you’re exactly the same because most of us do. We all know what to do. And yet we can’t seem to make ourselves do it.

So what’s the fix? Well first, consider The dieting and elevating quote unquote pretty bodies has been around since the Greek and Roman times, it would be impossible for us to escape messaging about good foods and bad foods, about thinner bodies being better and that being overweight is certainly not.

And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, or to be healthier, but doing it for reasons that you like.

So really liking your reasons behind wanting to lose weight, doing it for reasons like having aches and pains in your joints, or just having more energy, not for reasons such as feeling worthless right now. And thinking that you are going to feel worthy, you are going to feel enough, or you’re going to avoid judgment, just by being a smaller size, that happiness is contingent on the size of your thighs, right. And so really be happy or really like your reasons behind wanting to lose weight.

Now, we all know what to do to become healthier, right? It’s not rocket science. And one of my core beliefs is that once we become aware of something, then we can change it.

So my goal for this episode and for the podcast in general, is for us to become more aware. There are a few things that I have done myself, and how I lead my clients through this process, to get out of the diet mentality, and to improve our relationship not only with our bodies, but also with our relationship with food, and exercise, and sleep.

Step number one is to get back in touch with our bodies.

Now I remember being at a party at one point, and talking to a friend of mine about my frustrations with a specific diet. And another one was there. And she just said, Oh, I just listened to my body. And she kind of walked out. And I just remember like thinking, oh my god, I don’t even know what that means. And she’s such a jerk. But it is teachable. And so how do we get in touch with our body?

So first, you want to get in touch with how you feel physically, emotionally, understand your hunger signals, and everything that goes along with it. How do you know that you’re hungry? How do you know that you’re sad? What are those things that tell us that?

Because oftentimes, we are so much in our heads. And we walk around all day, not paying attention to what happens below our neck, we become resentful of our bodies, if we have to drink water, or if we have to go to the bathroom. And we just seem to be out of touch with what happens below our neck.

And so getting more in touch with how your body feels, again, physically, your hunger signals, and emotionally can really help with getting out of this diet mentality.

And once we become more in touch with the signals that our body is sending us, and we start building self trust with ourselves, then we can eventually get to the point where we can eat, not have any scales, not log our food, and not have any diet rules. And just be free from all of that stuff. It is possible, because I’ve done it. And I’ve worked my clients through it too.

So step number one is get back in touch with your body.

Step number two is understand where we are buying into these flawed ideas, and then start to question them.

I have a few questions for you. And I’m going to put them in the show notes so that you can journal about them if you would like to.

The first section of questions is all about our beliefs around foods.

Have you labeled foods good or bad? And if so, which ones which foods are good? which foods are bad? And why? Where did you learn that? Who did you learn that from? Because we don’t come up with that stuff on our own. If there were no good or bad foods, would you even know how to eat? And another way of saying this is if there were no rules to follow about how to eat would you know how to eat? Notice Are there any foods that you quote unquote, can’t have now this is allergies and intolerances with standing Alright, so if you’re allergic to food, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about foods that you can eat, that you have labeled are not available to you.

Second section is about our body and what we think about it.

What beliefs do we hold about our body Good, bad? Or that it’s not like other people’s bodies? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you even look in the mirror? Do you have a full length mirror? Have you looked at yourself naked? Would you say the things that you say to yourself and about your body? To your best friend or daughter? If you wouldn’t? Why is it okay to say those things to yourself?

The next sections, questions are about believing that things would be different.

If we were a smaller size, do you have a closet full of different sized clothes, some from even 20 years ago? Now, what feelings pop up for you when you think about throwing away everything that doesn’t even fit? Do you buy clothes that don’t fit you? Why do you do that? I know that this is something that all of us have done. I have totally bought clothes in a smaller size thinking that that would be a motivator? And it’s really not? How will things be different? When you get to your goal weight? Will you be happier? Will you be more confident? Will you feel in control organized? Will you be lovable? Or will your family respect you? What exactly is going to change when you get to your goal weight? And then the last set of questions is thoughts about diets. So do you judge yourself for falling off diets? Or not being able to stay on a diet? Do you shy away from telling people what you’re eating? And why? Are you up on the latest diet trends? And is this a topic of conversation that you have with other women in your life? Is this how you bond? Do you engage in diet speak? Do you comment on other people’s food? So just start noticing that stuff? And do you use the terms good or bad when referring to yourself? I was good today? Or Oh, I was bad, or this weekend was a shit show?

Finally, I have one more question for you. If you stopped thinking about food in your body, I’d like you to think about how much more brainspace you would have? And what else would you be able to accomplish in your life?

So those are all of the questions. Again, I’m going to put those on the show notes so that you can take a look at them and journal more about them.

Step number three is once we notice what we’re thinking about our bodies and our food and exercise, then we get to challenge ourselves to actively change our thinking, asking yourself, do I want to keep believing these thoughts?

Now your brain is going to want to say yes. And so I’m going to invite you to answer this question: If you were on a deserted island, would you still believe these same thoughts. I would love to continue this conversation if you want to talk about it.

So I’m going to invite you to connect with me on social. You can connect with me on Facebook at @totalhealthbyeliz that’s You can find me on Instagram at esherman68 or you can go to my website at and contact me there. Alright, that’s it for today. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this topic.

See you next week.

Hey, thanks for listening. If the show resonates with you and you have a friend, mother, sister or anyone else who you think would benefit I’d love for you to share the podcast with them. You can leave me a rating and review and Apple podcasts which helps me create an amazing experience for you. And it helps other women who are done with dieting and want to get off the diet roller coaster to find it as well.

See you next week.

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