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Fear of Regaining Weight: It's Common continued...

Simply using the word diet can instill fear of regaining in veteran dieters, says Edward Abramson, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at California State University Chico, and a psychologist in Lafayette, Ca. He tells patients: "Let's try something different. Let's not go on a diet," says Abramson, who wrote "Body Intelligence," a non-dieting weight loss approach.

Instead, he says, "Let's figure out what is behind your eating." He has people keep a diary, figuring out when and why they engage in unnecessary eating, such as in response to stress even though they are not hungry. Then, they work to change the environment so they reduce unnecessary eating.

"For some, emotional eating is the real trigger [to overeating]," he says. He helps people look at the emotions but address it as a problem to solve.

Regaining Weight -- and Wanting to Give Up

So, the scale is up five pounds this week and you've done everything right. Obviously time to give up, right?

Although that's common thinking among dieting veterans, it's destructive, of course. "Don't look at regainingweight as a failure,'' says Marisa Moore, RD, an Atlanta dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "It's just a signal to try something new."

For instance, if you've been walking for exercise, switch routines. Take up skating with your kids, for instance. Start a hiking group. Check out your neighborhood gym.

Addressing the problem of regaining weight quickly is crucial to long-term success, says Rena Wing, PhD, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry (, an ongoing study of more than 6,000 men and women who have taken off at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year.

"We have shown that people trying to lose any amount of weight, once they start to regain, they need to take action quickly," she says. "We tell people to get concerned at two pounds."

Sometimes, people are tempted to give up when they feel they have "blown it" for just a day, or even a meal. "The littlest slips, like you overeat at one meal, those probably are not going to do much to your weight," Wing says.

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