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Is Your Diet Too Complex?

It’s kind of hard to make permanent lifestyle changes if the changes you’re trying to make are too complex, right?

Well what if the plan you’re trying so diligently to follow is “too complex” – meaning there are too many food rules?

A study out just this month in the journal Appetite, compared two diet programs (one with more “rules” and one with less) to see if one plan produced better results and long term success.

The two programs used were Weight Watchers and something called Brigitte.  The study was performed in Germany, where Brigitte is popular.  Most are familiar with Weight Watchers, which assigns point values to foods and then instructs members to eat within a certain number of points each day.

You can “earn” more points with exercise and save up points if there’s a special occasion where you’re likely to eat more than normal.

Brigitte is a “recipe-based weight management program” that provides recipes and shopping lists for every meal, meaning participants simply following along with the given meal plans.

In this instance, Weight Watchers was the more complex program with the various point calculations and such, whereas Brigitte is a straightforward “here is your plan, shop, cook, and eat these foods.”

For those in the US, simply think of Brigitte as following along with given meal plans from a weight loss expert.

The goal of the study wasn’t to measure weight loss, but rather to see if weight loss programs fail because of their complexity.

Their conclusions? 

The researchers found that “perceived rule complexity” was the strongest factor associated with increased risk of quitting.  The people in the programs perceived the respective programs to be too complicated.

That means one thing to me: Ever hear the acronym K.I.S.S.?

Keep It Super Simple (yes, it’s cleaned up a bit for our blog).

Does that mean IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT that the “diet didn’t work?”  Hmmmmm. 

Chime in – what do you think?

(Source: Appetite, 54 (2010) 37-43. When weight management lasts. Lower perceived rule complexity increases adherence.)

 

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