Sadly, diet fads are everywhere and often they can do more harm than good.
Diets plans tend to be strict, restrictive, expensive, short-lived, and (when unsuccessful) discouraging.
The most common reason to diet is weight-loss, although it might progress into a medical necessity. While many diets are indeed successful, these results tend to be short-lived and at the expense of your metabolism. Here are a few reasons why you should not diet:
The Mentality of Diets:
The very mentality of “going” on a diet hints at the idea that it will be for a limited time. Healthy eating should not be something that one does“sometimes”; it should be a lifestyle.
The idea of going on a diet leads people to think that they can go back and forth between unhealthy diets and dieting. More than often, these types of dieting behaviors leads to more weight-gain rather than weight-loss.
Deciding to eat healthy only sometimes is not good for health. If one concentrates on incorporating healthy foods and eating habits, the body will gradually adapt to this new lifestyle.
When one diets, there is likely a list of what to eat, what not to eat, and when to eat it. Many diets are based on this type of restriction—cutting out certain foods from our diet (usually fats and carbs). When one does this, one becomes more likely to break the diet and become discouraged. Why?
It is only common sense that one will get tired of eating the same foods and will want to eat comfort foods (many of which have cultural or family ties). Restrictive diets, therefore, can be very stressful and counterintuitive when it comes to health.
Insults to Metabolism:
When metabolism is not presented with proper quantities of nutrients (a metabolic insult) it adapts to function under these new adverse conditions. For example, periods of starvation may be followed by periods of caloric hoarding once food is reintroduced.
Furthermore, changes in metabolism in response to metabolic insults may increase the risk for future health problems and make it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Unless recommended by a medical doctor or dietitian, one should not consider completely avoiding specific nutrients, as this can be an insult to metabolism. A better option is to consume healthy versions of nutrients and in a controlled fashion.
One Recipe is Not for Everyone:
We all have different bodies, making our metabolism very complex. A number of factors including genetics, activity levels, moods, sleep, age, metabolic disorders, daily nutrition, and the environment affect our metabolism. The point here is that there is no way that one dietary plan will be the same for everyone—similar but not the same.
This highlights how diet plans work for some, but not for everyone. A better option is to make healthy dietary choices that resonate with your body, likes and dislikes, cultural background, and schedule—these are much easier to keep.
The Blame Game:
The idea that diets work leaves many looking for somebody to blame when it doesn’t. Often, we blame ourselves. Big health corporations, salesmen, media, and diet quacks, all benefit from this blame and desperation. After all, if it worked for everybody else and not for you, then it must be you.
This leaves people feeling insecure, frustrated, and more importantly, vulnerable to the next diet fad that promises results. Failure to lose and maintain weight can contribute to a state of depression, social isolation, and shame.
Rather than dieting, try to engage in a healthy lifestyle that fits your body, schedule, energy demands, culture, likes and dislikes. But how can one do this?
- Educate yourself on foods you eat. Learn if the foods you frequent are good or harmful, then act appropriately (after all, we have our best self-interests in mind).
- Find reliable sources. Make sure that whoever you are getting your nutrition advice from doesn’t sensationalize a specific product or service. Rather, that they aim to teach you about health, how to eat, and common misconceptions on weight-loss.
- Build healthy habits. We engage in habitual behavior by default. If we focus on keeping a healthy habit—like jogging in the morning—rather than on weight itself, we get results that are easy to maintain and long-lasting.
- Focus on food, not on rules. Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong process. Instead of learning to follow other people’s rules and advice on diet, learn to do it yourself by getting to know your body.
Building a healthy diet plan can be difficult at first but luckily there are many who can help. Working with others has been shown to give better, long-lasting results when it comes to weight-loss. This can be a nutrition consultant that is monitoring progress, a personal trainer, and even a friend.