Ten Excuses When Your Diet Doesn't Work - And Why You Should Forget Them

Dr Vernon Coleman

1. I don't have the time to diet

`I keep meaning to go on a diet,' is a common cry. `I could be slim if I had the time. But my life's so busy. It's all right for her - she isn't as busy as I am.'

If dieting really did involve weighing out food portions, working out calorie values and spending two hours a day in the gym then these excuses might be valid.

But real dieting - dieting that will make you slim for ever - need not take any time. However busy and important you may be you should still be able to find the time to eat sensibly and to lose your unwanted weight quickly and permanently.

2. I'm large framed

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this excuse - usually coming from hugely overweight men and women who have rolls of fat bursting out through their clothes.

Bones weigh very little and add, at most, just another few pounds to your weight.

If you can strip naked, look in the mirror and tell yourself honestly that your weight problem is caused entirely by the size of your bones then I may - just may - believe you.

3. Everyone in my family is fat - it runs in the family

It is quite true that being overweight does seem to run in families. But if you are fat and blame your ancestors you should know that there are two reasons for the fact that you are overweight.

First, you may, it is true, have inherited a certain genetic tendency to be overweight. But this tendency is not terribly important. Obesity is not a dominant gene. You do not always have to be fat just because your parents and grandparents are fat.

Second, and much more important, you probably learned bad eating habits from your parents when you were small. If your mother and father ate too much - and were overweight - then you probably grew up being used to the idea of eating too much. And you were probably overweight as a child. That, I'm afraid, is almost certainly the main reason why you are overweight today.

If you are prepared to learn new eating habits - and to throw aside the bad eating habits which led to the fact that you are currently overweight - then you should be able to get thin and stay thin.

You don't have to be fat just because your parents were fat. You can't change your height - that is something which is governed entirely by your genes - but you can change your weight.

4. My partner prefers me with a bit of flesh on my bones

This excuse is most commonly favoured by women - though I've heard men use it.

It is perfectly true that most men do prefer their partners to have some curves. Survey after survey has shown that men are not sexually attracted to particularly thin women - and may, indeed, be rather frightened of them. You only have to look at the pictures in a `girlie' magazine or to examine the paintings of nude women in an art gallery (the old time equivalent of a `girlie' magazine) to realise the truth of this statement. If men really liked very skinny women then all the top nude models would be skinny.

But it's not true that men prefer FAT women.

Some do, of course. Some men like their partners to have rolls of fat, to have huge, baggy thighs and to have pendulous breasts which need restraining with brassieres designed by engineers.

And some women like to be made love to by mountainous men who have vast stomachs and fat laden limbs.

But these are exceptions.

Most men and most women prefer their partners to be curvy rather than fat.

So, if you use this excuse take all your clothes off and stand in front of a full length mirror. That is what your partner sees. Now, be honest: would you describe yourself as curvy or fat?

5. I love eating too much to cut down - it's my only pleasure

If eating food is your only pleasure then you need to sit down and carefully re-evaluate your life. There is nothing at all wrong with enjoying your food - but if it is your ONLY pleasure then there is something sadly wrong. You need to find new aims, new ambitions, new objectives, new hopes, new aspirations.

6. At my age everyone is overweight

Most people do tend to put on a little excess weight as they get older. There are two good reasons for this.

First, we all tend to do less exercise as we age. We become slightly stiffer. We aren't as fit as we were. Our joints tend to seize up a little as arthritis and other disorders begin to take over. We move more slowly - and usually have the time to be a little slower. The result is that we burn up fewer calories. And so, if we eat the same amount of food as we did when we were young the inevitable result is that we tend to put on weight.

Second, because we tend to have more available time as we grow older we tend to spend more time eating. People in their twenties and thirties are often rushing about looking after children or building up careers. They don't have much time for long lunches or leisurely evening meals.

But although these may be explanations for why people are overweight they do not provide an adequate defence.

Being aware of these hazards, you should take care to watch your weight as you get older. You should be careful not to eat too much. And you should try to ensure that you take plenty of exercise.

If you allow yourself to become overweight then your whole body - joints, heart, lungs etc - will suffer.

7. Dieting is impossible for me because I have to eat out a great deal

Many businessmen and women claim that they are only overweight because they have to spend a lot of time eating in restaurants or attending dinners.

This is no excuse.

No one forces a diner to choose the most calorie rich foods in a restaurant. Or to eat everything put before them at a dinner.

People who eat out a lot of the time can control their weight just as easily as anyone else - if they have the necessary willpower.

8. I can't afford to go on a diet

This excuse really is nonsense.

You don't have to buy special foods in order to diet successfully. You don't have to buy pills or attend expensive classes.

All you have to do is to eat sensibly - and to eat less.

Anyone who can afford to eat can afford to diet.

9. Slimming is sexist - I refuse to get involved

Some women claim that dieting is an activity which is designed by men to control women. It may well be true that parts of the dieting industry is controlled by men. It may be true that many women model themselves on photographic models who are selected because they are young, attractive and fairly slender. And it may be true that the people who spend most time dieting are women.

But it is nonsense to use any of this as an excuse for not dieting!

There are two huge industries vying for our attention.

On the one hand there are the food companies which are keen to persuade us to eat more - and to eat all the wrong foods. These industries want to make us all fat - because if we are fat it will be because we have eaten too much, and contributed to their profits.

On the other hand there are the diet promoters who are keen to sell their pills and their dieting techniques. These people want us to slim (but they don't want us to stay slim because if we stay slim then we will be of no future value to them).

You should learn to ignore the exhortations, claims and counter claims of both these pressure groups.

Eating sensibly, and maintaining your weight at a healthy level, should be something you do for yourself.

Fat women who refuse to diet because they claim that dieting is a sexist activity are merely grabbing at yet another excuse for their inability to control their own greed.

10. It's my hormones

This is the fail safe argument frequently put forward by the fat person who has tried all other excuses and found that they don't work.

It is perfectly true that some people are overweight because of hormonal problems. If you genuinely think that your weight problem could be caused by a hormonal disorder then you should see your doctor straight away. But for every individual whose over-weight is caused by hormone problems I could find many thousands whose weight problems are caused simply by eating too much.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2007

There is more advice on dieting in Food for Thought by Vernon Coleman. Available from the webshop on this site and from all good bookshops.