Nutrition Diagnostics - Quitting: Why Most Diets, Detoxes and Health Programs Fail

Quitting: Why Most Diets, Detoxes and Health Programs Fail

Aidan Chappell | 25 Mar

Welcome to 2022. By now, you have probably set your goals and resolutions for the new year. As you can imagine, health is always at the top of most New Year's resolutions. While it is great that so many want to take the initiative to improve their health, the unfortunate reality is that most don't realise why some people quit before they even begin to win. 

Similarly, many who successfully follow a diet, detox protocol, immune strategy or gym program, prior to a social holiday often fall off the wagon during the festive season. By the time regular life resumes in January, many lose the motivation to continue their health journey. Ultimately, they quit. This is the brutal reality of change…

Change is Challenging

Change is challenging. In the words of Arnold Bennett, "any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts". When faced with drawbacks and discomforts associated with change, there are two choices;

To be a victim of change, or;
victor of change.

According to psychologist Claire Newton, "A victim of change believes that they do not have enough skills and that the demands of change are too much to cope with. They allow circumstances (and other people) to influence them and, therefore, feel they lack control in the change process."

A victor of change, on the other hand, "believes they have enough skills to cope with the demands of change. They attempt to impact on the change by using their sphere of influence and control, thereby feeling in control of the change process."

When change is challenging - as it is with a diet, detox or health programs - people tend to become victims of change and ultimately quit. The most common pitfall is that they believe that the demands of change imposed by a diet or health program are too much to cope with. We see this regularly with our tailored health programs as clients go through the process of quitting. As can be seen in the model below, the process of quitting occurs between the maintenance and relapse point. 

The Three Stages of Quitting

There are three stages of quitting that precipitate a relapse; the deferring stage, the denial stage and the blame stage. Most people following a diet, detox or any other health plan will experience some, if not all, of these three stages. So, in the spirit of ensuring you don't quit, let us explore these three stages in a little more detail.

The Deferral Stage

The first step on the road to quitting is 'deferring action'. If you hear yourself saying, "I'll do it tomorrow", know that you are already in the process of quitting. At this juncture, it is important to remind yourself that there is no time like the present. The sooner you start, the sooner you will yield the benefits of change.

The Denial Stage

The next step to quitting is the 'denial stage'. During this stage, you'll hear yourself making a lot of excuses or finding a number of roadblocks to your impending success. You'll try and tell yourself that whatever it is you're trying to achieve will miraculously occur even if you quit. You'll find yourself saying things like, "I don't have the time", "It costs too much money", "I don't have the energy", "I can't do this", "I have tried everything, and nothing seems to work", "I react to whatever I eat on this diet", "I have a lot of allergies", "I have tested positive for MTHFR mutation", "I am genetically compromised". At this point, it is important to give yourself some positive reinforcement or perhaps break your goal down into smaller, more manageable milestones.

The Blame Stage

The final step to quitting is the 'blame stage'. At this point, people are looking to justify their actions in the deferring and denial stage by absolving themselves of responsibility. No one wants to view themselves as a failure, so it is easier to blame others by saying things like; "I don't get enough support from my family or partner", "my health coach doesn't understand me", "my health coach doesn't know what they are doing", "I don't have enough time because of work", "if only I had a personal chef to cook for me", "if only there was a pill or an injection so that my immune system will always be protected", "people need to wear a mask and stay home so I do not get sick". At this point, it is important to remember that you are the master of your own destiny when it comes to change - it is no one else's responsibility or fault but yours.

Clients who undertake our tailored health programs occasionally end up in the blame stage. At this point, we remind them that we have a proven track record of over 30 years in balancing body chemistry and that their program has been tailored to them based on their biochemical individuality. It is a proven system with an extensive track record observing behavioural psychology, but client compliance is key to success. Success is essentially guaranteed if they balance their body chemistry.

The best part is success is measurable via many data points:

In our experience, we can expect the following outcomes within certain timeframes too:

Our tailored health programs are measurable in a specific time frame and nothing is left up to chance, genetics or excuses.


How to Avoid Quitting

Change is invariably for the best when it comes to health, so being a victor of change is important. If you're thinking of quitting, ask yourself if you're doing any of the above - deferring action, denying and finding excuses or blaming others - and take a moment to recalibrate your thoughts. Ask yourself honestly if your objections to change are because you no longer believe in the change itself or because of the discomfort associated with change?

Often, it's the latter. We see this occasionally with clients who are undertaking our tailored health programs. Usually, their discomfort is caused by having to undo years of poor dietary and lifestyle habits. Things like cutting down on sugar, eating healthier foods, learning how to cook different meals, reducing alcohol consumption, getting to bed earlier and undertaking more exercise can all come as a shock to the system - which makes them difficult to maintain for extended periods. Critically, though, they are all worthwhile endeavours as they improve health.

Motivation and Habit Formation are Key

When the pain of change sets in, it is important to understand the above; that change is important. Only when you're conscious of this can you re-motivate yourself and avoid quitting. The Self-Efficacy Theory of Motivation highlights this exceptionally well.

Once motivated, you will then form habits around this motivation. Habits lead to consistency, and consistency leads to change. This is especially true of health-related activities like diets. If you stray from the diet, it becomes difficult to achieve change. Thus, making clean eating habitual is critical to success. The Three R’s of Habit Formation explains this particularly well.

There is no silver bullet to success when it comes to change - it requires work. Ultimately, if you want to make change, you need to avoid relapse. The best way to do this is to recognise the early stages of quitting; deferring action, denying and blaming. You then need to reset and take accountability for your actions. Remind yourself that change may be uncomfortable, but it is worth it. From here, you need to find the motivation to change and create habits that facilitate the consistency that change requires.

The good news is, you do not have to do it alone. We have 37 years of experience in balancing some of the most complex chemistries. When you understand how chemistry works, the rest is measurable and sustainable, cutting through misinformation, trends and confusion.