Photo by Brenan Greene on Unsplash

Yep, 35 years is a long time to finally reach the point where I can hold my hands up and categorically state that diets don’t work- and by diets I mean excessive, food group eliminating, calorie restricting, punishing diets- so you know, pretty much ALL DIETS- which encourage obsessive habits, draining the life out of eating actual FOOD WHICH IS MEANT TO BE NOURISHING AND FUN in the first place.

The word ‘diet’ has been SO irrevocably skewed, it no longer even alludes to what you habitually eat and is now (devastatingly) synonymous with restriction and frankly feelings of confusion over what the heck we should and should not be eating.

For a food-appreciator like myself, it makes me terribly sad we’re officially at this point. The clean-eating, obsessive, trend-following dieters amongst us (yep I include myself here) have jumped onto the ‘I want to live forever, what do I eat?’ bandwagon and have literally driven ourselves to despair.

But I’ve changed, people. Oh yes I have.

The last few weeks have seen me start my journey to relearn how to simply eat and enjoy food and it’s been an eye opening education-to take control and override that negative habits of seeing certain foods as the enemy. Yes, I will eat a wholemeal cheese sandwich for lunch because there’s nothing wrong with any of those food groups.

FOOD IS NOT THE ENEMY, friends, so can we please stop vilifying it.

Let me take you back through my chequered past with food for a moment to give you some context.

As an adolescent who seemed to grow breasts and a mono eyebrow simultaneously (lucky me) overnight one dark day back in 1990 going from a naturally slim child to erm, a not so-slim Jim, life felt rather rubbish and food was a way to regain control. Thanks to a growth spurt and eyebrow wax, I regained some sort of ‘normality’ at 13 but yo-yoed my way through life up until my mid twenties not feeling my best.

With the early, then unknown, onset of PCOS, I literally had no clue which foods were foes for my body and felt utterly confused by the conflicting information provided by experts and the media alike on what I should actually be consuming.

A destructive relationship with food ensued.

I used it as a means of control and distinctly remember aged 19 experiencing a real low over Easter which saw me starving myself in preparation of chocolate overload only to binge for days while hating myself for it.This behaviour wasn’t isolated either.

Meeting my husband Peter in my early 20’s was the turning point I needed. His unconditional love wasn’t based on my body size (which he loved at its biggest post-kids and also at its smallest post-quincy (ouch) where liquid food for months for the order of the day)…

And that’s the meaning of love-when you truly, wholeheartedly LOVE someone-it’s got nothing to do with the fickle ever changing dress size or number on the scales.

Love stops you (at least at first) internalising and worrying so much about the banality of life-of weight and all the baggage-love liberates you.

Of course there have been many periods of time since the golden days, where I’ve abhorred my body, finding myself the owner of bulbous thighs and a flabby tummy which stubbornly refused to shrink for years post-sections-but slowly, over time, my body or some of it at least, returned to a healthy weight and shape.

I just feel so much of those diet trials and errors wasted my time when if I’d approached weightloss in a healthy way, I would have saved myself time and tears.

Looking back, I’ve tried a huge catalogue of diets from living on cabbage soup for weeks (yuck) to low carb and low calorie and beyond and while results often came in quick (hello deceptive water weight loss)- long term, those regimes, for me at least, did not work.

Why? Because diets ultimately negate the pleasure of food, of eating.

They de-naturalise that which should be most natural.

I’m with Nigella Lawson who says, ‘I despair of the term ‘clean eating’…it necessarily implies that any other form of eating – and consequently the eater of it – is dirty or impure and thus bad’.

Food should be enjoyable full stop. It should not, in my opinion, be something we break down with an app or obsess over on a night out (how many points was that gin and tonic again?…  All diets do, is elevate food/ treats as some sort of mystical reward reserved for those who deserve it-those who have dutifully ticked off a number chart, burned x amount of calories or fufilled their kale and egg quota for the day.

Well I JUST can’t any more.

Yes I know eating white carbs and sugar is bad for me so I won’t-every single day, I’ll reserve the odd croissant for weekend breakfasts and as with the French, won’t feel freaking feel bad about it either-but what I shall not do, is omit whole food groups and I’ll no doubt be happier for it.

As Laura Clark of LEC Nutrition and Honest Mum columnist says,  ‘Any diet plan involving strict rules will work if you follow it but what damage does it do in the long term is the question? Effective diet plans are those that don’t demonize certain foods, can be adjusted to fit into a daily routine and allow for sustainable balanced eating for life’.


I have, and will continue to eat varied, seasonal, healthy, filling and ENJOYABLE foods in a well balanced, socially-enriching way.

Because food is about communication, it’s about art on a plate, it’s about CONNECTING and being PRESENT and breaking bread with your family. It’s about feeling and BEING nourished, mind and body alike.

This article by the endlessly wise and witty Ruby Tandoh on ‘The Unhealthy Truth Behind ‘Wellness’ and ‘Clean Eating‘ summises that when we enjoy our food, we retract the most nutritional benefit from it and must unequivocally eat well and without shame.

I shall be following that wisdom- and the advice of my great friend, psychologist Emma Kenny founder of Make Your Switch, who states,

‘Diets don’t work because they tend to be based on calorie restriction as opposed to understanding what our bodies need.

Before you lose weight permanently, you need to understand why you overeat and deal with these issues accordingly.

Also, you should see dieting as what you eat as opposed to what you don’t. Finally you need to be wary of calorie counting and low fat foods. Learn to listen to your body, eat until you are just content, allow yourself to feel hungry and drink lots and lots of water as 80% of hunger is thirst’.

Pass the water please-

…Oh and those extra pounds I need to lose, they’ll come off slowly as nature intended when I least expect it because I’m enjoying life, food and moving more.

No more miracle, fast-working diets shall be actioned here.

It’s time to go back to basics, to FULLY appreciate food once more.

It’s taken 35 years to get here but finally I have- and it feels good.

Will you be joining me?



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It's Taken 35 Years But I've Finally Realised Diets Don't Work - Honest Mum


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19 Responses

  1. Alex Chambers

    Exactly! I just do my best to eat healthier food these days and get exercise as much as possible. I had been dieting since the age of 7 and it’s hell.

    I actually wrote an article a while back about why it’s so important to teach about food from an early age. That way they can avoid having to deal with weight issues.

    Check it out and let me know what you think. It’s long, but it was written from the heart. 🙂

  2. Jane Allen

    Great, great post. Glad you made this admission and supported it in the best way. I’ve never believed in diets. I’ve always seen them as scams. And I agree with you. Diets don’t work. I’ll eat and live mindfully. But, I don’t do sugar. At least, not anymore.

    • Honest Mum

      Yes sugar isn’t great so it’s something we have cut down on (although we never ate a lot of it) but diets really don’t work. It’s all about finding a long term healthy way to live.

  3. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    Yay! Bloody love this Vicki. I’ve recently come to a similar conclusion. The number on the scale doesn’t matter – I’ve recently lost so many inches but the scales don’t show a similar story because I’m gaining so much muscle. Better to eat nourishing food that your body asks for, have the odd treat, don’t count calories. It’s a far healthier approach, physically and psychologically too. Life can be so stressful so why add more stress on top of it? I’m done with dieting too. You’re gorgeous lady xxx
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted…How an Instagram Post Showed Me It’s Good to TalkMy Profile

    • Honest Mum

      Woohoo, you are gorgeous yourself and so inspiring. I am so proud of you Leigh-exercise is incredible for body and mind as is eating well. Stopping the obsessing has helped me a lot-no foods groups are off limits and I’m already so much happier xxx

  4. Lisa @ukglowology

    Hell yeah!! ☺️ I think we must all be coming to the ‘let’s celebrate food, life and not be miserable’ way of thinking at the same time! Last week I wrote about finding my Happy Diet and doing it my way (Def not clean eating but healthy-ish 80 % of the time). I’m so glad you’re feeling more relaxed and positive around food and losing weight – its so easy for us to get caught up with the ‘latest food fad’. Wonderful post as usual Vicki! ?

    • Honest Mum

      Thanks lovely Lisa, really pleased for you too lovely, I just can’t obsess any longer, I’m done, off to read your’s xx

  5. Rosemary Rowe

    Yes! Every time I think about fasting again, etc. I remember how much I enjoy cooking – from scratch – meals for DH and I, and also “naughtier” weekend food on Sundays when the kids visit!! I have to move more – and since I’ve started gardening again, I feel happier about everything. I keep expecting to not fit into my clothes because I’m so self-conscious, but I do! It’s the flippin’ mind-games and media-based manipulation I blame. I’m so happy for you xxx =)

    • Honest Mum

      Absolutely Rosemary-I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t anymore. I , WE all deserve to enjoy food and be happy. I love gardening too-can’t wait to do more of it now the sun is out. Thanks for your lovely comment xx

  6. Mess and Merlot

    How weird – I JUST posted about the same thing!! Hooray for you – how amazing does it feel to finally burn those diet books (well, metaphorically speaking anyway, mine would make a pretty impressive bonfire!!). So happy to hear you are embracing a healthier (no pun intended) mindset towards the whole dieting malarkey x
    Mess and Merlot recently posted…All the carbs please…My Profile

    • Honest Mum

      OOh will go read your post now, yay for us-it’s only been a few weeks here cemented by my time in Cannes and it feels so good xx

  7. Ebabee

    A big, huge YES to this! You know how much I love food so I can’t ever diet – too greedy! 🙂 Like Uju, I’ve only ever tried the Atkins diet but my own modified version of it and even then I never stuck to it. I love food too much and I also think food and eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures so I don’t believe in denial. Moderation yes, but denial no. So I don’t go crazy with the naughty food but if I feel like it once in a while, I’ll eat it. As Laura says it’s about balanced eating. Denial just doesn’t work in the long run so it’s better to indulge in moderation. My philosophy on food has always been eat whatever you like but with really good quality ingredients (most of the time) and that’s it. I love that you’ve come to this conclusion which I think is the only way to be with food. xx

    • Honest Mum

      Thanks darling, so wise and like you I am a total foodie and denial just doesn’t work for me. I hate the idea of calorie counting and just feel we should enjoy our life and food! Yay x

  8. Babes about Town

    Amen sister! You know me, I just don’t diet, I’m too greedy hehe 😉 The only ‘diet’ I ever officially tried was a modified Atkins about a decade or more ago. And while I lost weight, it wasn’t sustainable in the long run. I enjoy food and pleasure too much, and I’ve seen the ups and downs that food and weight obsession has wreaked on many girls and women I’ve known. I just read that piece on Vice earlier today actually and loved it, had so much common sense and truth in it.

    I think as she said variety is the spice of life, so enjoy your life, don’t go cray-cray with the naughty stuff, but don’t get all sanctimonious with the ‘good’ stuff either. Also hon, I’ve watched you on various regimes and none of them suit (vegan, ahem.. lol) because they sap the joy out of your heritage which is a gorgeous Greek, diverse and bountiful, food-loving culture. Love your new approach – eat well, move more, love life. Opa! 😉 xoxo
    Babes about Town recently posted…The Making of Harry Potter: Going Inside No. 4 Privet DriveMy Profile

    • Honest Mum

      LOVE this comment so much Uju, you are right, good food is in my blood-it’s part of who I am and to deny that or eat the things that just don’t work only serves to make me sad. You saw it first-hand! Thanks darling xx

  9. Kate

    Absolutely LOVE this. I’ve been on almost every single diet going, and yet I still wondered why they don’t work! And then I usually plan to try the next one. Ridiculous. A little bit of everything is the best plan, and whatever my natural weight is, will happen when it happens. No more diets!
    Kate recently posted…Time for tea with T2My Profile

  10. Mel

    Yes, yes, yes and yes! I am always puzzled when the latest fad comes out. Eat meat only (whaaat?), eat nuts & veg, but no wheat ever (the ultimate evil food!), eat fruit and veg only. No wait, stop eating fruit, it’s full of fructose (almost as evil as the king of all evil, sugar!). You know what? Let’s all eat dust! Or maybe we could stop stressing over food, being reasonable and eat a bit of everything so that food is actually enjoyable… unless you have allergies, that is. In that case, avoid the allergens at any cost.


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