Signs You Are Experiencing Diet Backlash

Isn’t it interesting how obesity is becoming the major health epidemic in the country, with predictions of 73% of the country being classified as overweight or obese by 2030 (which of course, isn’t a great thing, because it will increase the % of health-related diseases.) Yet, the allure of weight loss in a diet, with a lack of education, is all too common and prevalent – with most reporting a backlash and re-gain (most times, even more, weight), that previously. Why? Because it is hard to out-do biology.

I am definitely aware not every who changes their way of eating, is going to go into a downward spiral of diet backlash, and deal with the same psychological whirlpool I have experienced, but I’m going to list common symptoms of ‘Diet Backlash,’ and you will know yourself, if you are stuck in that yo-yo diet cycle. 

Here are the common symptoms of ‘Diet Backlash,’ as adopted by ‘Intuitive Eating,’ by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

  • The contemplation of going on a diet brings on urges and cravings for ‘bad’ foods like chocolate, ice-cream or ‘comfort foods.’
  • Going on a guilty binge upon the end of a diet– Now you are free from the list of ‘can’t eat,’ foods, you find yourself thinking about them all the time.
  • Shortened diet duration– As dieting becomes more chronic, the duration of diets becomes shorter and shorter. {for me} it got to the point of morning and night dedication to start a new diet, but it lasted until it was time to eat for the first time. It became habitual to  ‘start tomorrow’ yet tomorrow never came {ever}
  • Having no self-trust around food
    • Ex. “I can’t buy that loaf of bread, because I don’t trust myself to not eat it all at once,” proceeded by guilt 
  • The Last Supper: This one is key. An over-consumption or binge of all the ‘forbidden’ foods. Chronic dieting {me} felt like every meal was my last, despite {me} knowing I was never going to diet again, but {brain} wasn’t convinced due to past behaviour
    • Ex. ‘Tomorrow I’m going low carb/keto/paleo so tonight I’m going to eat all the bread in the house…and the chocolate…and may swell the ice cream too..but its okay because I know this diet is going to make me lose lots and lots of weight so its acceptable to do this now”
    • Ex. “I’m so dedicated to starting my new diet tomorrow, and I know it’s going to work, so let me enjoy a {big} treat now! Because I won’t be eating any of this tomorrow!”
  • Using‘appetite suppressants’ like caffeine or diet drinks as a tool to fight off hunger cues in the name of weight loss.
    • Have you ever wondered why most overweight people of those ‘shakes’ diets still don’t lose weight? Because it’s not the food that’s the issue, it’s their habits and relationship to food. It doesn’t matter if you take an appetite suppressant if you have an ingrained habit of eating when you aren’t hungry – an appetite suppressant isn’t going to stop you eating and nothing is going to change.
  • Sluggish metabolism– Your body doesn’t know whether it’s getting food or not in the future, so it’s going to hold onto every calorie just in case.
Living Without Dieting, by John P. Foreyt and G. Ken Goodrick


  • A study was done on 2,000 sets of twins in Finland, {twin studies are considered exceptionally ‘gold standard,’ in epigenetic research i.e. effect of dieting vs. non-dieting} found the dieting twin {regardless of genetics} was correlated with accelerated weight gain and increased likelihood of becoming overweight. A twin who went on a weight-loss diet was 2-3x more likely to become overweight, in comparison to the twin who never went on a diet; {Pietlaineet et al. 2011}
  • A 32-year study in the Framingham Heart Study found that regardless of initial weight if weight goes up and down chronically {i.e. yo-yo dieting}, increased fat is stored in the abdominal area {around vital organs} and therefore have a higher overall death rate and twice the likelihood of developing heart disease.
  • The Minnesota Starvation Experiment by Ancel Keys;
    • Men were fed 1,500 calories for 6 months to determine how the body reacts to starvation
    • Findings included; men after the diet put on weight rapidly, near double of what originally lost;
      • They now had a profound ‘obsession,’ with food, fantasising about it, whereas before they had no interest;
      • Men were seen eating grass, one tried to bite this finger off, and most reported a lost in interpersonal skills and craved isolation from other people.
      • After the diet, men reported stealing food, binging to the point of needing to have their stomach pumped, and uncontrollably consuming foods for many months after

Letting go of dieting, doesn’t mean food becomes a ‘free-for-all,’ I think personally, it is about gaining back a trusting relationship back with all foods and your body. Dieting requires willpower, and willpower is a finite resource. It’s a lot easier to eat with healthy habitual ways if your relationship with it is not reliant upon willpower.

You might need to be on a certain way of eating for health reasons, and that’s not what I am talking about here. This is more-so about the average yo-yo dieter, who wants to get back in touch with honouring their body and mind.

Useful Resources I’ve Found:

  • ‘Intuitive Eating,’ by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Reash
  • ‘Brain over Binge,’ by Katherine Hanson

As always, this is just from my own personal experience and research. It is my own beliefs and should be taken as just that. I am not a doctor, just a nerd who loves evidence-based science, and learning how we can alter our lives for the better.



Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

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