My Dutch diet revolution!

My Dutch diet revolution!

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For Karen Vivers, being on a diet was a road of hunger and irritation which basically made her fatter than when she started. Taking the lead from the Dutch, she found a sustainable alternative.

Is there a more depressing phrase in the English language than, "I'm on a diet?  For me the answer is no.  Every time I decided I should go on a diet, a huge wave of what I can only describe as dread and depression came over me.

I knew what lay ahead - my life, as I knew it, was over.  Ahead lay a road of hunger and irritation.

So, I am very pleased to have realized, and to be able to tell you that, diets don't work! 

I am living proof of this.  Being on diets for more than 20 years did nothing but make me fatter and depressed.  And believe me, I tried them all, every powder pill, food fad and trend or celebrity diet I could get my hands on.  When I followed any of these weight loss methods I seemed to be always concentrating on what I was not allowed to eat.  It made me feel isolated from those who, seemingly, could eat what they wanted and not put on any weight.  Dieting made me feel like I was being punished. 

Don't take my word for it.   If diets did work, obesity would not be an issue.

Diets can be seductive.  They promote themselves as the solution when actually, in many cases, they are the problem.  If you follow a diet, I am sure that you will lose weight, but how sustainable is that weight loss?  There are many statistics to prove that people that diet not only put all the weight back on, but they even add more.

For me, the real danger of dieting is that it becomes a sort of lifestyle.  It can do physical damage if you are, in effect, starving yourself by following a restrictive diet, or continually losing and putting on weight in cycles.  You are making it more and more difficult to keep a stable healthy weight because your body is continually on alert for the next period of ‘famine' as it experiences it, and the chemical balance in your body changes to retain as many calories in time of ‘feast' as possible.  So dieting is making you fat.  Not to mention how it can affect you psychologically.  You can become obsessed with food.  Dieting can be the trigger to developing an eating disorder.

So what is the alternative?  Well, it is not a quick fix.  It involves looking at your life in the long-term.  It's not just about looking good for your next party or fitting into that dress.  Success lies in finding a sustainable solution. 

The good news is (apart from that you never have to go on a diet again) is that the solution lies in your own hands.  You have a choice.  You now have a great opportunity to take control of what and how you eat and so, you can control your weight, and you can enjoy food as well.

A significant influence on me coming to this realization is the fact that I live in the Netherlands. I started to look at the way the Dutch approach eating, and staying healthy. I learned how the Netherlands has one of the least obese populations in Europe and I realized they must be doing something right.


This is a great country to be in if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle. The market place is not as saturated with highly processed foods full of salt and sugar as it is in some other countries. The Dutch are still aware of seasonal produce, which they celebrate. Who hasn't noticed how excited everyone becomes when herring season approaches us? The same goes for asparagus, strawberries or mussels. All of these fantastic seasonal treats are tasty and good for you.

The Dutch are great at moderation. They are masters at enjoying the simple pleasures in life and in food.  They can appreciate quality over quantity. You may notice that portion sizes are still in control here. You will hardly ever come away from a meal in a restaurant feeling "stuffed", but are more likely to feel satisfied. I hardly even have to mention that the country has so many sports clubs, and the concept of being active is just ‘built-into' their psyche; for instance cycling everywhere from childhood through to old age. These are just some of the Dutch food cultural aspects that I have built into my own healthy lifestyle.

What I have learned is that life is for living and food is for enjoying. Re-learning how to use simple fresh ingredients, going back to the basics of eating and cooking has been my key to losing and keeping the weight off for more than six years now. It involved making some changes, but it did not involve a diet. I lost 30 kilos by focusing on what I could eat rather than what I couldn't eat.  My experience, although I didn't realize it at the time became the building blocks for my own business "The Cooking Coach". I help others learn to cook easy, tasty, healthy meals, help them lose weight and eat more consciously. I love sharing my knowledge of how to eat in the Netherlands with other expats.


Karen Vivers

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3 Comments To This Article

  • Joanna posted:

    on 18th April 2011, 17:16:10 - Reply

    Great message about giving up on the "quick fixes" and the boom and bust culture of dieting that's so prevalent in the UK, and concentrating instead on a new long term change of mentality to have good food and exercise just becoming the "norm" instead. Everyone who's ever been on yet another diet will get this article!
  • LISA HELWIG posted:

    on 18th April 2011, 16:29:57 - Reply

    I loved this article. Diets don't work and it's a relief to hear it said outloud. I'd be thrilled to read a lifestyle book with focus on cuisine helping a person sustain healthy eating habits and I don't care what culture it originates from.
  • Nicholas posted:

    on 15th April 2011, 16:11:17 - Reply

    I could not get the point in the article. Basically in Netherlands there is no real food culture/cuisine (so hard to call what is Dutch diet) and most of the traditional Dutch food is deep fried. Basics about healthy food and cooking is not something related with Netherlands. If you were talking about Chinese cuisine or China I could understand that. Here in Netherlands, people are really active and doing sports but again this is not related with diet again...