Tanya Wyatt, Happy Valley pond

South Beach, Meditteranean, Inuit, Paleo, Banting. Blood type diet! Diets without meat; diets with only meat; raw food, vegan, vegetarian!  Diets from the past, diets for the future, diets from exotic locations. Diets from doctors, diets of the superstars. So many choices, so little time! What should we be eating and which Holy Grail should we buy?

Ring any bells? Been there? Burnt that t-shirt? A recent online news site ran an article about its top 32 diets for 2014. Yep, that’s 32 different diet offerings – just the leaders amongst the pack – in one year! We’re diet “veskrik”. One look in the mirror and we’re off for that miracle cure. One bloodcurdling scream from the bathroom and the latest diet book is in our partner’s Christmas stocking (is that a subtle hint or what?).

Why this revolving door fascination with eating styles? Why the slavish adherence to eating philosophies and methodologies? Diet disciples are one small calorie intake, one cauliflower head (mashed) away from becoming cult members.

The Hawthorne Effect

All of these diets do one thing well; they switch on the lights. In a famous psychological experiment, the Hawthorne effect examined how every time the lights in a factory changed (no matter the sequence or setting), the productivity would (for a short while) go up. The conclusion? Awareness is a greater tool than technical adjustments.  These diets also give you routine. In return for giving up personal responsibility, you get given THE way to live. No more responsibility for choices; The Diet does it all for you. And when it stops working? Simply wait at the next diet stop and a good-looking, well-spoken Diet will pull up and offer you a ride.

Diets are approximations. They’re designed for the group, not the individual, thus they’re generic. No wonder you’ll always find a little bit of yourself in the next best thing and wonder how come it knows you so well. It must be science, magic, a miracle? Don’t get me wrong. I follow a low-carb/ high-fat eating philosophy. It makes a lot of sense to me. However, the crux of any good diet choice lies not in the diet itself, it lies in understanding your own unique body, clarifying what your body health goals are, finding a lifestyle eating pattern that suits you and then loving what you eat.