How many times have you heard from a friend, colleague, or parent - "I am trying this new diet"? Or seeing people on social media posting their before and after body images and you think, "Wow, I want to look like that!". Did you ever consider that it just not might work for you and your body? That is might actually hurt you?
"A diet is not a verb, it's a noun". A great quote from an RD I listened to on my way to work this morning (yes, I am kind of a podcast junky). She couldn't be more right - we HAVE to stop thinking of a diet as an action, but rather a thing in our lives. It isn't something that needs to be continually acted upon or changed. It isn't something that should be considered restrictive or unpleasant. Because THAT, my friends, isn't realistic for the long - haul.
Eating should be a relatively stable thing in our lives. It should fit within our current lifestyle routine, culture, and environment. Yes, some tweaks and principles need to be added, I am sure, but are those tweaks sustainable? Are they something you can stick to for eternity?
Dieting does have its purposes in special cases.
For instance, the ketogenic diet (high fat, low carb, moderate protein) has been seen to improve Alzheimers disease and those with metabolic syndrome. Type II diabetics actually see major improvements when they stick to a diet such as this. SO don't get me wrong, these "diets" can work, but they tend to be used and abused by the general, healthy public. These people see the word "diet" as a verb - it is something we start and stop - and usually contains restricting behaviors to lose weight. Although that is probably never the initial intention of the individual, it is happens 9 times out of 10. We see foods as "good" or "bad" and spiral down a path of negative thoughts about how we look and social outings.
It shouldn't be the act of starting and stopping various eating philosophies and habits.
Diets do not work because they actually make you GAIN weight. This is a term referred to as "yo-yo dieting" (characterized by starting and stopping eating habits in short time spans, multiple times). This is a vicious cycle that ultimately f***s up your metabolism. Why? Well for one a diet is usually, like I said, restrictive. Under eating usually accompanies any diet and actually leads your body to hold onto whatever it can to avoid, what it thinks is, a famine. It's a protective mechanism for survival.
Now you may be one of the lucky few who actually lose weight! Hooray! This was what I had actually experienced in college (not proud of it, by the way). However, I was also a collegiate runner who ran 50-55 miles in a week- this was more than the miles I put on my car at the time. I lost weight because I put a whole different demand on my body. This demand was one that told my body it needed to be small in order to efficiently carry me to these long distance places without tiring. AND I was exhausting all carbohydrate and fat stores, and even protein stores from my muscles, to do this highly demanding job.
Most Americans are not exercising at these high intensities, and do not sustain that type of activity and low caloric eating habits for more than a years time (I did for 4-5 years, making this a MUCH longer time for my body to adapt to the stressors and not fit the "yo-yo diet" phenomenon). Was this a fun time in my life? Heck NO. I was always tired, cold, and fantasized about food. Which is why many people cannot sustain a caloric deficit within their diet plans - so they binge, feel guilty, restrict more, and the cycle goes on and on. The more this happens, the more your body will resist losing weight.
Dieting has only been in existence since Americans have experienced a major rise in obesity over the last decade. The only reason this has happened was because of a flawed study done in the late 1960's by Ancel Keys, a physiologist, who hypothesized that the fat content of foods was the cause of weight/fat gain. Which we now know is so-not-true, but at the time the food industry started taking out the fat content in their products and marketing them as "low-fat foods". This ultimately ruined Americans because when the fat is taken out of a product, sugar is put in it's place. So many people started eating highly processed, low fat, high sugar foods. And guess what? More fat people.
Fat does NOT cause weight gain. Sugar does.
Sugar is absolutely, 110% addictive (some studies claim it is even more addictive than cocaine!). When it's added to food it makes the body crave more. It quite literally shuts down leptin, the hormone that is responsible for appetite and energy expenditure, and produces more ghrelin, your hunger hormone. This makes certain food companies very happy and wealthy because it makes you buy more. Why do you think the food industry hasn't taken it out of their products? OH, and be careful of those "sugar-free" packages that these same companies create - they more than likely contain artificial sweeteners that will still get you hooked and over indulge.
It's time to stop looking at the quantity of our food and instead the quality of it. When you eat quality foods, your body responds in the way it was designed. It won't trick you into thinking your still hungry. It will let you now when it's honest to god full. You won't have to worry about your calories because your body will tell you what it needs when it needs it. What if it doesn't? What if your metabolism and habits are THAT off from years of confusing diets that you don't know whats normal for you? Then track it for awhile! You'll be amazed at the amount you should be eating compared to what you actually are eating...
Stop seeing food as the enemy. Eat quality foods. Eat fat. Throw the scale away. Be happy with your healthy self.
Adopt an eating routine that is sustainable for you and your lifestyle, and instead call it eating - do not call it a diet - because...
Diets DO NOT work (long-term). Period.