Can we just NOT? Can we just not...go on diets this year?! I am all about health and wellness. ALL about the health. ALL about the wellness. But I am NOT all about diets. In fact, today I am writing to encourage all of you to NOT go on a diet. In fact, I am begging you. Pleading with you. Please do not perpetuate the very unhealthy cycle of dieting that is depicted in the graphic for this post.
January one and the word “diet” are synonymous. We’ve all indulged for days, weeks, maybe even months, before the first of the year and we are all using January first as a reason to go on a diet. I am all about fresh starts and not waiting until tomorrow to put off what you can do today, but I firmly believe diets are not the right solution. And I am strategically using this subject as my first blog post of the new year to get the message out to all of you when you need to hear it most.
Simply put, diets don’t work.
Wait, this requires caps... DIETS DON’T WORK.
I don’t want you to read this and get defeated, though. I have a better answer so please bear with me until the end of this post. I will convince you that I have a better way, but first I need to give you my reasons why our old way isn’t working.
1. Dieting disconnects us from what our body actually needs. When we’re just “following the rules” of a diet, we become less in tune with our bodies. We aren’t listening to what our body wants and needs. We are just doing what we are being told.
2. Dieting makes us more likely to overeat. Yep, you read that right. Restriction makes us want more of whatever it is that we think we can’t have. It’s simple human psychology. Diets create a “scarcity mentality” which is our mind subconsciously telling our bodies that, if we can’t have a certain food, then that certain food is just what we need!
3. Dieting gives the illusion that there are good foods and bad foods. Diets attach labels, and therefore perceptions, of what are the right foods and what are the wrong foods. Case in point, all the low fat diets of nineties. Or all the keto, or high fat, diets that are extremely popular right now. I’d like to debunk the idea that foods fit so neatly into two categories. I propose foods are more likely better or worse, not good or bad. Lean proteins and veggies are better to eat most of the time. Whereas, say fried foods, are worse to eat all the time. Can you never have fried food because they are bad? No. Diets vilify foods and that is what is bad!
4. Diets make us feel like failures when we don’t stick to them. Show of hands...how many of us have made resolutions to lose weight in the past? Show of hands again...how many people have fallen into the “diet/binge cycle,” not lost a single pound from their resolution and felt like a failure? One final show of hands...who is repeating this cycle right now? It’s not us who are the failures, it’s diets that fail us! They make us feel like a failure and feeling like a failure is not a good place to operate from. Ever.
5. Dieting increases the chances of developing an eating disorder or disordered eating. This may sound dramatic, but if we get anxious around food, start cutting out whole food groups or begin isolating ourselves from social situations with food because we are on a diet, this is having a disordered relationship with food.
6. Dieting reinforces the stigma that thinner is better. Skinny does not equal healthy, just as being thicker does not mean someone is unhealthy. Notice why are you going on a certain diet. Do you want to look a certain way or feel a certain way? Be aware of what’s driving you. Diets convince us that a dress size or a number on the scale will bring health, but this is a lie.
Now that I have given you several reasons why diets don’t work, you are primed to hear what does work. It’s basic, but it’s effective...you have to change what you do on a day to day basis! You have to make daily changes to the way you eat so you can feel better and therefore perform better, sleep better, stand taller, workout stronger and keep up with the demands of day-to-day life. In other words….
Healthy behaviors are what lead to a healthier life!
And this is what I PREACH in my programs. It’s not the easy solution. It’s not the quick fix. And it’s not an overnight diet. When it comes to becoming healthier, long-term is the name of the game. I work to help you create healthy behaviors and find the way to eat for you that works best to fuel you and is sustainable for you. This is a long haul process which involves trial and error and experimentation and lots of learning, but it is soooo very worth it to make the investment in you and your health. You are worth the slow solution!
So, there it is. If you are going to resolve to do anything in the new year for your health, I hope it is to kick diets to the CURB. Here’s to long-term success in 2019!