There are several reasons you should give up dieting in 2014, and the lack of your favorite foods isn’t the only one! As a registered dietitian, I help people lose weight every single day without ever “going on a diet.” Diets are not only hard to maintain but they don’t work either! I want you to think about something: who are the people that generally "go on diets?" Overweight folks. Who would never (or should never) go on a diet? A person with a healthy weight. We should all take notes from the healthy weight folks and kiss diets goodbye regardless of what the scale says. Today I am going to free you from ever proclaiming that you are “going on a diet” again and give you 7 reasons you should give up dieting not only in 2014 but forever!
1. ChOOSE a Lifestyle, Not a Diet
One of the first reasons you should give up dieting in 2014 is that healthy eating should be a lifestyle and not a diet. Eating a healthy diet day in and day out is important for many other reasons than just your weight. A healthy diet, high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins and low in animal fats, processed foods and sugary sweets and drinks, will keep your body healthy from the inside out. What we put in our mouths directly affects our health, either sending our life in the direction of disease or in the direction of wellness. Don’t we all want the latter? While following a healthy diet as a part of a permanent healthy lifestyle, there is still room for our favorite treats – eating healthy 90% of the time, while allowing for small treats 10% of the time!
2. Too Restrictive
Most diets are far too restrictive and leave you feeling deprived, hungry and possibly even nutrient deficient after a few days. When you go on a diet, you are usually told to avoid particular foods, making them even more tempting than they were before. Anyone can avoid their favorite foods for a couple of days, but forever? That’s nonsense! Have you ever noticed that the more you try to avoid something, the more you want it? If we learn and choose to eat healthy lifelong, there is always room for your favorite foods! I once had a friend shocked to see me eating pizza, he said, “That’s allowed on your diet?” Diet? Who’s dieting? There’s always room for pizza in my life! Instead of a pepperoni pizza that I might have been found eating growing up, now I just enjoy a loaded veggie pizza – vegan cheese for me and light cheese for the rest of my family! It’s all about balance and moderation – not restriction.
3. Not Listening to Your Body
Not only is dieting too restrictive, but it also teaches you to avoid listening to your own body. Eating healthy lifelong teaches us to listen to hunger cues, learning to fuel our bodies for the tasks at hand. When you follow a diet, you eat what it says, when it says, and how much it says, rather than listening to your own body’s cravings and hunger cues. Because dieting is so restrictive, over time this teaches you that you should always finish your meal instead of stopping when you are full. You must learn to listen to your internal cues for eating rather than following an unrealistic program.
4. Hard to Maintain
Not only are diets restrictive and boring, they are also hard to maintain! Who wants to be the family member at the dinner table that pulls out their baby sized portion of „I’m on a diet” food when the rest of the family is enjoying chili, cornbread and a salad? Not me and hopefully not you either! Instead, you need to learn how to cook, order and eat healthy – all of which are not taught on a diet! We are a social society and need to learn how to eat healthy in every situation that we are in. After following a diet for any amount of length, the minute one of your old favorite, unhealthy foods comes around, you will be the first to overindulge. This will only leave you feeling bad about your failed diet attempts.
5. Food is Not the Enemy
As a dietitian, one of the most frustrating things about dieting is that people begin to think of food as the enemy. Food is a good thing my friends! Real, healthy food does so much for our bodies, yet so many of us think of food as a negative thing. Food provides the fuel that your body needs to do all of the incredible things that you do each and everyday. Healthy food provides life, protection from disease, energy and so much more! Cherish those apple slices next time you chose them over the chips for your afternoon snack – that apple is doing more for you than you will ever know!
6. Nutritional Deficiencies
Along with all of the other negative aspects, dieting can be downright dangerous too! Without being well educated on the diet that you are following, you could easily find yourself in a whole slew of health trouble without even realizing what you have done to your body. A well balanced diet (referring to diet here as the foods that you choose to eat – not a weight loss diet), provides your body the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, etc.) and hydration that it needs to grow, thrive, fight disease and simply exist! Not only that, but your diet greatly influences your metabolism, hormonal balance, organ function, skin appearance and so much more.
7. Lack of Energy
I couldn’t talk about the reasons that you should give up dieting without talking about the downright awful way that you feel when you diet. As discussed earlier, your body needs healthy food to function – whether you are sitting on the couch or running a marathon, your body needs fuel in order to do anything. Even breathing requires energy! Low calorie diets leave you feeling tired, weak and deplete of energy and who wants to feel like that? A well-balanced, healthy diet provides the energy that you need to function throughout the day by regulating your blood sugar, providing a steady stream of energy all day long.
As you see, even a dietitian like myself doesn’t recommend dieting. I hope you will take this information and swear off the word "diet” from your vocabulary forever. Think of it as a lifestyle instead of a diet, and weight loss will only be one of the side effects of your new life! Have you ever tried any fad diets? Did they leave you feeling similar to the ways that I discussed above?