Celebrity diets: they’re still diets and they still don’t work

Colour image depicting the word If you know one thing about this blog, we are not keen on diets. Our main reason for being down on diets is that they simply don’t work. Yes, you can lose a few pounds. And guess what? If you’re like most people you’ll gain them back. And possibly more.

We get grief when we say that over and over. But it’s true.

What’s worse than a regular weight loss diet? A celebrity weight loss diet. Just because Oprah or Gwyneth or (back in the day) Suzanne endorses it or says it’s the diet they embrace doesn’t make it any more likely to work. And the celebrity endorsement, to me, just makes it more egregious.

I could relate big time to Jean Fain’s commentary, “The big problem with Oprah and other celebs who tout diets.” Fain is a psychotherapist who specializes in eating disorders. She says:

From where I sit, clean eating, lifestyle plans, weight management programs, juice cleanses, support systems… they’re all diets, and they’re all bound to fail. But with their intoxicating blend of impossible expectations, misguided authority and restrictive guidelines, celebrity diets are predestined to fail spectacularly.

Why are they predestined to fail spectacularly? Three main reasons:

  1. Celebrities don’t look like they do because of their diets. Remember, she says: Oprah has a team of trainers, personal chefs, and medical experts. And she still struggles. Gwyneth is genetically gifted. Both are rich enough to employ an army of people working to help them look amazing.
  2. Diets don’t work. We’ve reviewed this many times. Body adapts. Metabolism slows down, sometimes permanently. Famine response. Set points.
  3. Celebrity diets are even less likely to work.

Celebrity diets backfire big-time for all the same reasons and more. Diets of the rich and famous tend to be expensive, costing dieters time and money they don’t necessarily have. Some go to wacky extremes, eliminating such an idiosyncratic list of foods that social occasions become stressful events. What’s a restaurant-goer to order on Gwyneth’s 10-day detox, which excludes gluten, soy, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, red meat, white rice, shellfish, raw fish, peanuts, tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries, corn… ?

Celebrity diets are beyond doomed because of the toxic mix of negative comparisons, shame and self-criticism they inspire. As inspiring as it might be to watch your favorite celebrities diet down to size, the airbrushed photos of celebrity dieters looking like they’re doing better than you tend to make you feel worse and exacerbate the very eating issues their diets are meant to alleviate.

What does Fain recommend instead of the latest celebrity diet? Self-compassion. Not just paying lip service to it, like saying you’re compassionate to yourself and then spending your evenings counting calories or points. But actually giving yourself a break and letting go of the delusional thinking associated with diets, even celebrity diets.

Are you more or less likely to feel the allure of a diet that’s got a celebrity endorsement behind it?

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