10 Reasons Diets Almost Always Fail - And What You Can Do About It

article by Nicky Hoseck
December 11, 2018
Sacrificing something we love is always hard, whether it's cigarettes, alcohol or food. As soon as we make the commitment to give something up, we generally start to feel deprived which makes us miserable and, as soon as we’re miserable, we seek comfort in the thing we love. This is why dieting can be so difficult and why two out of five dieters quit within the first week.

If you’re serious about losing weight and sticking to the diet plan you’ve worked out for yourself, try to avoid some of the most common mistakes that lead to failure. Our research indicates that most diets fail because of one of the following 10 reasons, giving yourself a better chance of success.

1. Don’t Set Yourself Unrealistic Goals

With all the publicity surrounding miracle diets and phenomenal supplements, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you can reach your target weight within a few weeks. This is unrealistic, as is changing your eating habits completely overnight. A more effective approach is to cut out one unhealthy component of your diet at a time. For instance, you’d be surprised by how much simply cutting out soda can influence your weight. According to the Diabetes Council, this simple step can help you lost around 20 pounds in just six months.

If your diet is too restrictive, you’ll find it very difficult to maintain it, so allow yourself the occasional treat and keep your chin up with a weekly portion of ice cream, for example. Similarly, if you do slip off the wagon and indulge in a hamburger one lunchtime, don’t let it get you down. Simply because you spoiled yourself once doesn’t mean all is lost.

Unrealistic expectations are as damaging as unrealistic goals, so don’t expect to drop from a size 14 to a 10 as this will only leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed.

2. Stay Focused

Try not to get distracted by big promises offered by fad diets. Instead of trying to lose a lot of weight in a short space of time, the most effective weight-loss program is one that involves a lifestyle change over a long period of time. Diets such as the cabbage soup diet are not only very unappealing, they are also designed only for short-time weight loss and, once the seven days are over, the chances are whatever you lost will quickly start to creep back on.

Once you’ve found a healthy eating program that fits with your goals, stick to it. Don’t depend on diet supplements and pills to achieve your target weight, but rather change your lifestyle to one that involves consistent healthy eating, good portion control, and regular exercise.

If you struggle with working out how much you should eat each day, you could turn to a meal delivery kit service like HomeChef or HelloFresh. These companies deliver perfectly portioned, raw ingredients to your door, enabling you to create a healthy meal every night without having to worry about how much chicken you should use or if you’ve included too many potatoes.

3. Lose Weight, Not Money

Unfortunately, between retailers and the tax office, healthier food works out more expensive than many unhealthy take-outs and ready-made meals. For a busy mom who’s already trying to hold down a job, and look after two young children, losing weight can seem virtually impossible, especially when the drive-thru around the corner has a special on. But you don’t have to shirk take-outs and restaurants altogether simply because you’re dieting and there is a range of food outlets that offer healthy alternatives to the regular burger and fries.

Meal delivery kits can also help, and for those who are really rushed off their feet, Freshly offers an affordable and convenient service. Delivering healthy, pre-prepared meals to your door, Freshly can transform your diet from one full of fast food to one that is perfectly balanced and portioned.

With prices starting at $9.99 per serving, Freshly may be a little hard to afford if you’re on a tight budget but you could opt to simply get one family meal per week, giving yourself a break from cooking once a week.

A healthy diet doesn’t have to cost a fortune and recent research indicates that, on average, eating healthier need only cost you an additional $1.50 per day. There are also plenty of healthy and nutritious foods out there that cost less than $1, including various types of beans, tinned tuna, and salmon, fruit, and vegetables.

4. Don’t Stay on the Wrong Diet

When researching the best way to lose weight, many people will look through a selection of diets and meal plans before selecting the one they think will be best for them. Unfortunately, because there are so many options out there, it can be difficult to choose one that will work for you in the long term.

For example, many people believe that a diet should remove fat from their diets when, in fact, sugar is far more dangerous. If you combine eating more fat with reducing the number of carbohydrates in your diet, you can boost your metabolism and mean you lose weight faster.

Referring to a dietitian or nutritionist is probably the best way to go, although people with food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies, should discuss their diet plan with a doctor to make sure it won’t irritate those sensitivities.

For a diet to be successful, it needs to fit in with your lifestyle, budget, and food sensitivities. If you’ve tried various diets in the past without success, it’s worth considering why they failed and avoid making the same mistakes again.

5. Cut Out Calorie Counting

At the beginning of a diet, many of us focus primarily on counting calories but this can be the beginning of the end. Although calorie consumption is important, it’s not the be all and end all. The quality of the food you consume is just as important as its calorie count so, rather than focusing on low-fat, sugar-free options, look for foods that are going to give you lots of nutrition and energy without an unnecessarily high-calorie intake.

For example, even some of the healthiest yogurts contain over 100 calories, whereas an apricot or apple contains only half that, while giving you as much, if not more, nutrition and energy. Having said that, eating too few calories may help you to lose weight in the short term but it won’t be sustainable over a longer period. Starving the body of calories encourages it to shed lean body weight, rather than fat, making it less effective and sustainable.

One of the best ways to cut your calorie intake is to avoid what dietitians refer to empty calories. These are found in processed foods with a high level of sugar or fat. For example, if you cut sweetened fruit drinks from your daily intake and replace them with water, you’ll cut calories without even noticing. Similarly, avoiding alcoholic beverages can make a huge impact on your calorie consumption.

6. Win, Don’t Lose

Rather than focusing on how much weight you’re losing (or not), try to focus on getting healthier. Being skinny isn’t always a sign of health, after all, many diseases can make you lose weight, but they won’t give you a healthy life. If you choose healthy food options and combine a diet with a new exercise regime, you’ll start to feel better and will soon find you have more energy. With more energy, you can exercise more and the weight will start to fall off.

Instead of approaching your diet as a list of things you can’t eat, try to take a more positive approach and think of it in terms of all the things you can still enjoy. Change your mindset about exercise and embrace the concept that you’re exercising to promote your health, rather than to lose weight.

Similarly, having a different approach to food can do a lot more for you than simply trying to restrict your calorie intake. Over recent years, there’s been a shift from dieting to lose weight to applying non-dieting eating styles to achieve the same goals. Intuitive and mindful eating requires you to listen to your body and fulfill its needs without over-indulging.

7. Plan Ahead

Meal planning can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to change your eating habits, but it is one of the most crucial aspects of a successful diet. If you have all your meals for the week planned in advance, there’s less temptation to pop down to the drive-thru and grab a take-out.

Many people choose the weekends to plan their meals and some even use that time to pre-prepare food that can be stored in portions for ease of use during the busy working week.

If this just sounds too much like rocket science, you could opt for a meal delivery kit service and make your life a lot easier. Not only do companies like Hello Fresh and HomeChef ensure you always eat the correct size portion, but they also make meal planning as easy as 1,2,3. All you have to do is browse their weekly menu, choose your meals and then prepare them according to the recipe card. A simple, no-fuss approach to meal planning and portion control.

If you can’t stand the heat and just want to get out of the kitchen while still benefiting from healthy, home-cooked meals, Freshly offer a range of nutritious dishes that are prepared by professional chefs and delivered to your home each week. All you have to do is warm it up and tuck in.

8. Control the Cravings

We all have a guilty pleasure or two, be it chocolate, ice cream or peanut butter. Having these temptations in the house can make it very difficult to stick to your diet so it’s advisable to make sure they’re not usually lying around waiting to pounce on you.

That doesn’t mean to say you can’t allow yourself a treat from time to time, you just need to make sure you keep your indulgence to a reasonable amount. For example, you could buy a single serving so you aren’t tempted to binge and eat an entire tub of ice cream in one sitting.

Another way of controlling cravings is to find an appealing but healthier alternative. For instance, you could pick up a strawberry-flavored yogurt rather than a strawberry ice cream, or replace milk chocolate with the healthier, dark alternative.

Remember, being too restrictive on yourself will only cause anger and irritation, negatively affecting your chances of success.

9. Don’t Give Up

At the beginning of a new diet or weight-loss regime, many people start shedding weight quickly but then the weight loss rate will usually drop off. This is simply because you will tend to lose water weight at the beginning before you start to lose actual body fat. It can be discouraging to see the scales staying relatively steady after the first couple of weeks, but don’t get discouraged.

A sustainable weight-loss regime is one in which you lose around two pounds per week – any more than this, and the chances are the weight will jump back on as quickly as it fell off. Losing weight too quickly is not only a short-term solution, but it also impacts negatively on your overall health, causing low blood sugar levels and leaving you feeling faint and weak.

When considering how long it will take you to lose weight, don’t forget to reflect how long it took to accumulate it in the first place. Just as the weight didn’t appear overnight, so it won’t vanish in an instant.

10. Set Yourself Achievable Objectives

Before committing to a weight-loss program or diet, think about what you want to achieve. Maybe you’re desperate to wear that figure-hugging red dress one more time or perhaps you want to complete a 5k charity run. Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s specific, realistic, measurable and timely.

Planning ahead is also important so, if you’ve got a high school reunion next week, don’t expect to amaze all your old friends with a new slimline look – it’s simply not going to happen. Rather, plan for an event some months in the future so you know you can achieve them, rather than over-facing yourself with an unrealistic objective in the short term.

If your goal is to lose 25 pounds before your summer holiday, reward yourself along the way. For example, if you’ve finally managed to lose 10 pounds, treat yourself to a massage or a new pair of shoes. Not only will this keep you motivated, but it also encourages you to love yourself which is one of the keys to a successful diet.


Dieting is never going to be easy, but by following these 10 points above, it can be a healthy challenge rather than a sacrifice. Portion control and meal planning are two of the most difficult aspects of adopting a new eating regime and, if you feel these have been your stumbling blocks in the past, why not use a meal delivery kit service and save yourself the hassle?

Hello Fresh and HomeChef can help you achieve your weight-loss goals by providing tasty meals full of healthy ingredients that are pre-portioned to perfection. As your meals are already set out for the week, there’s less chance of you giving in to temptation and grabbing a burger or pizza in an emergency.

Having a positive approach to weight loss is essential for success so, rather than focusing on calorie control and weight loss, embrace the experience as one that’s making your body healthy and happy, and let the weight take care of itself.

Try HomeChef’s meal delivery service for easy, healthy meals that will make your weight loss goals a reality.