PSA: Please Stop Dieting
I'm not a big fan of "dieting." I scream in my head every time I hear about the newest fad diet that requires you to eat only purple vegetables for 5 days, then you are finally allowed to have 5 nuts every hour, but only if you follow it up with a homemade juice. I realize I just made up that ridiculous diet, but some diets out there are even MORE ridiculous than that. Brides-to-be are now following "tube-feed diets." Seriously? All my patients who NEED tube feeds don't want them. Why would you subject yourself to a tube down your throat for a few weeks, so you can look "skinny" for one day.
Diet gurus on TV promote the latest diet or supplement, and unfortunately, people fall for their claims that it will "burn fat" instantly. It's not your fault that your diet failed; it's the DIET that failed you. Keep in mind that the dieting in the US is a $60 billion industry.
Diets are not sustainable. Can you live off lemon juice and cayenne pepper for life? No way. I don't think I could last an hour on the "master cleanse." Creating healthy habits is sustainable. You can change your actions around food, such as the way you prepare and eat it, and your attitudes around food.
If you think fat will make you fat or that carbs are the devil, you're creating food rules. After numerous diets, this list of food rules ends up growing longer and longer, and your diet just gets harder. When can you eat if you're fasting for 18 hours, but you also can't eat after 6 pm? Then, what can you eat, if you're not allowed carbs in the morning, or can't have fruit with meals?
As you can probably tell, dieting and food rules lead to an obsession over food. It's not normal to think about food 24/7. You should enjoy your food during meal or snack time, and rely on your body to tell you when you're hungry next. You shouldn't have to think about when you're allowed to eat next, or how many calories you have left for that day. What happens when you only have 87 calories left for your day in order to lose 2 pounds that week but you're still starving? I say listen to your body's hunger cues, not the calorie counter or clock, and EAT when you're hungry.
It may sound simple to eat intuitively with your body's cues, but it works. It's hard work to get there, and it's definitely no "magic pill" like all the diets claim to be, but it's worth it. You're worth it.
Two weeks ago, my roommate and I were heading back home after a wonderful day-long workshop on Nutrition Counseling for Eating Disorders when we heard two women talking about getting in shape for the summer. They wanted "beach bodies" and needed to "lose a few pounds" because her thighs touched. I wanted to give them a hug and tell them that their bodies were perfect and beautiful the way they are now. Unfortunately, this conversation happens ALL THE TIME. Teenagers, adults, and even children now hear messages from the media and their family or friends about being "skinny" or looking a certain way. These women truly believe that they can't be happy or social until they are "skinny."
Dieting puts your life on hold until you reach that ideal body. Guess what? There's no one ideal body. You can be healthy at any size, but you have to change your thoughts. Go look in a mirror right now, and tell yourself out loud what you love about your body. Do you have beautiful long hair? Or glowing skin? Do you have curves? Don't tell yourself that your legs are too big or your stomach isn't flat. Would you tell your best friend that she's fat? I hope not. Be your own best friend, and love your body.
Yesterday was International No Diet Day, and I just had to share my honest opinions about diets. In general, they're a terrible idea. The research even says that dieting doesn't work, and it usually leads to even more weight GAIN. In fact a large study out of UCLA found that dieting was a predictor of weight gain! Your body is not happy to be starving, especially your brain.
Some diets are better than others, and many of them do have good aspects to them, such as high amounts of fruits and vegetables, adequate protein, and staying well-hydrated. Most of them fall short with the silly food rules they create, leading to obsessive thoughts about food and your body.
If you're looking for more reasons to stop dieting, check out this list of 40 reasons! My favorite is #24: Dieting turns you into an emotional hot mess. If I were starving my brain, I would totally be emotionally unstable.
What's your favorite reason to STOP dieting?