Dieting- we have the vocabulary all wrong

August 11, 2015 BY: LISA


Dr Rick Kausman, one of the pioneers of the non-diet movement and person-centred approach to wellbeing in Australia was interviewed on channel seven’s weekend Sunrise recently. It was great to see evidenced based information being presented to viewers around dieting. What we know is:


  • Diets don’t work and are in fact a predictor of future weight gain.
  • Two-thirds of people who lose weight will put the weight they lost back on
  • Dieting is the biggest risk factor for an eating disorder

mojzagrebinfo / Pixabay

Dr Rick stated that “diets are unstickable” because you are trying to ignore your own hunger levels and follow someone else’s rules.


If you look to psychology and consider self-determination theory it speaks of human beings having three basic needs:

  • Autonomy- the need to be running your own show
  • Competence- the need to be good at something
  • Relatedness- to feel like you belong


How do diet’s stack up?


  • Diets don’t allow you to follow your own plan, quite the opposite, in fact, you are trying to follow someone else’s idea of “healthy” eating whether it fits into your lifestyle or not.
  • With two-thirds of dieters regaining weight there are not too many long-term success stories when you look at dieting.
  • The only box a diet ticks is relatedness. You can always find someone else in your world who is on a diet.

Dieting is so common it’s normal. If you are not on a diet and want to lose weight you feel guilty until you’ve started on the next one.


We get the vocabulary wrong

Kausman spoke of us using the wrong “W”. Instead of talking about ‘weight’ we should be talking about ‘well-being’. There was a study showing that when people stopped focussing on weight loss and just concentrated on making healthy choices for the sake of their well-being they lost more weight.


But it doesn’t stop there…


We use the wrong “F”. Instead of the next ‘fad’ the focus should be on ‘freedom’. People are always lamenting they lack self-control but that’s because they are banning everything they enjoy and expect to be happy, in fact keen to never eat chocolate or drink alcohol again. You will be surprised by the self-control that allowing yourself the freedom to choose what you really feel like eating will bring. If you have a true desire to be healthy and eat well giving yourself the freedom and trusting yourself to make the right choice is the answer to your missing self-control.

jill111 / Pixabay

We use the wrong “D”. Instead of ‘diet’ we just need to be thinking about good ‘decisions’. Deciding to make healthy choices and putting plans in place to make this happen is what sustainable healthy lifestyles are all about. Diet means deprivation, decision mean direction.


We use the wrong “N”. Instead of calling yourself ‘names’ and putting on labels like good or bad, I’m hopeless or lazy. How about your try ‘nurture’? Self-care is an absolute essential for any sustainable healthy lifestyle. If you or your health aren’t important enough to take a leading role or at least a co-star in your list of priorities, then chances are you won’t ever make it.

johnhain / Pixabay

If you need help to straighten out your health vocabulary please be in touch.


Lisa APD

Lisa Renn is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and expert on behaviour change.


All enquiries, Lisa 0413 956 107 Appointments 1300 725 806
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