Confession time: I used to be a serial dieter. Between the ages of 16-27, I went on an average of 10-11 diets every year. That’s A LOT of dieting.

If there was a diet out there, I tried it. Cleanses, detoxes, Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, The Zone Diet, Weight Watchers, and even diet pills.

It was an incessant battle. I lost and gained the same 60 pounds over and over again, as I attempted diet after cleanse and detox; and none of them lasted.

Even though I was continually seduced by the promise of weight loss, I never kept it off. I would inevitably end up failing miserably; but would still be seduced by the promise of “well, next time, I’ll really stick with it!”

But it wasn’t until after I stopped dieting completely that I actually found peace around foods.

So when you’re seduced by the promise of weight loss, and tempted to start another diet, let me save you weeks of frustration and tears, with what I learned in my twelve years of dieting.

Here are the 3 things I learned from being a serial dieter:

1. Failure is built into each diet

Diets fail because there is an “on” and an “off.” If you go “on” something, at some point in time, you have to go “off” of it. Yes, you may lose weight initially. You may drop a size or two from not eating carbs. But in six months, a year, or five years, has the weight come back?

No one can sustain the “I’m cutting out junk food and not eating after 7 pm” diet forever. When you rigidly restrict what you eat, eventually you’ll get to a point where you give in. This inevitably leads to a slippery downhill slope of overeating and then “starting over” the next day.

Diets are never successful long term. Failure is built into the very nature of a diet. When you start a food plan, something will come up where you’ll desperately want something not on your diet. And then you feel like a failure because you broke the diet. Diet “success” is always measured in days, weeks, or months, because the reality is, it never lasts long term.

2. Diets set you up to crave even more sweets

We always want what we can’t have. And on diets, almost everything is off-limits. Carbs are restricted, desserts are limited, and sweets are a no-no.

You tell yourself you can’t have cake, cookies, bread, or chocolate, so what do you think about all day long? The cakes, cookies, bread, and chocolate. You’re consumed with it, you dream about it, and you fantasize about ways you can eat a piece of cake without having it “counted.”

Your forbidden foods seem to be consuming your thoughts; and soon, you’re so sick of fighting an internal battle, and thinking about cakes and cookies 24/7 that you give in so all of the fighting stops.

The nature of something being forbidden means you’re much more likely to want, need, and crave it.

3. Diets take you further and further away from learning to listening to your body

Diets work in direct opposition to intuitive eating. They’re based on strict rules and foods you can’t eat. There isn’t room to check in with your body, allow your needs / wants to arise, and nourish your body accordingly.

“Success” is based on adhering to a system that’s prescribed. If there are rules you have to abide by, you can bet that the diet does not encourage listening to your body. Instead of learning how to tap into your body’s own intuition, you only eat what’s on the list of “acceptable” foods.

Lasting weight loss requires that you are in touch with your body, that you understand what it needs and wants, that you pay enough attention to yourself, and that you are aware of how / why you take in food. And when you diet, it takes you farther away from listening to your own body’s wisdom.

Remember that dieting never brings about the results you truly want. Lasting change begins with awareness, love, and self-compassion, as you start to understand your food patterns and behavior. The way to lasting weight loss is through listening, honoring, and nourishing yourself (which dieting will never do for you!).