Listen here, you need to NOT go on a diet. When I say diet, I’m talking about limiting the number of calories you consume, cutting out certain food groups, and restrictive eating (this is different than eating healthy foods in a balanced diet).
Here are 3 reasons why dieting is not the way.
1. Diets are not a long-term solution for maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Restricting calories puts your body in a state of starvation.
When you limit the number of calories you consume, your body assumes that food is in limited supply and therefore energy must be conserved. Your body physiologically adapts by lowering your basal metabolic rate (the rate of calories that your body uses to perform your essential, daily life tasks) to reduce the amount of energy it takes to live.
On top of that, your body may turn to muscle mass for energy in order to conserve fat stores. So, dieting actually has a negative effect on our body’s energy processing mechanisms.
What makes things worse is that diets are hard to keep up. This can result in dieting like a yo-yo—up and down, on and off. For example, going on a diet for a month, then going back to your normal routine, then going back on the diet, and back and forth.
Yo-yoing between dieting and not might actually be worse than not going on the diet in the first place. This is because, as stated above, your body goes into starvation mode to physiologically adapt to the diet, and then when you go off the diet, your body is still in starvation mode! With your metabolic rate still low, the body is more likely to store fat and eat up muscle.
2. Diets are stressful!
Let’s be real here. Counting calories, measuring food…it’s a pain. Who’s got time for that? And to top it off, you will probably break your diet, and this will make you feel guilty. There are so many more important things in life that deserve our time and energy.
3. Skinny ≠ happy
Why are you thinking about going on a diet in the first place? If you are trying to lose weight to improve a health condition you have or bring yourself to a normal/healthy weight, you should seek medical advice from a physician or dietitian.
Serious health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overweight/obesity warrant a dietician-monitored eating regimen.
If on the other hand, you want to lose weight because you think it will make you more attractive, have more friends, be more confident and social, or feel better about yourself, for a few examples…think again. These external motives are striking a deeper chord—the desire to be happier.
Happiness is not created by material and physical things, including the shape and size of our bodies. It comes from within. Shift your energy to accept and love yourself as you are, because you are enough!
Maybe going to a yoga class with your friends or cooking healthy meals with your partner brings you joy. Tune into those moments that bring you true bliss and continue living those healthy habits. Enjoy the moment of doing something good for your health for what it is, without attachment to the end result. Enjoy the journey of leading a healthy life overall.
What To Do From Here
With all that said, don’t go grabbing the fast food and Twinkies. Instead, shift your energy to creating a wholesome and healthy lifestyle of eating nutritious foods.
When choosing what to eat, think about these four things:
- Fresh whole foods
Our bodies can do some pretty amazing stuff. It turns out, we pretty much know when we’ve gone overboard. We know when we ate too much. We know when we ate something unhealthy. So by keeping these principles in mind to approach your meals and snacks in a mindful manner and by listening to your body’s cues, your body will tell you what you need.
And sometimes, that includes a sweet treat! Recognize your need for some sugar, sugar. Savor and really appreciate it. Just keep it reasonable. Again, listen to what your body is telling you—we know when we’ve gone too far.
To live the healthiest version of your life, nutrition needs to be working with all other aspects of your life including activity, sleep, and personal/social relationships. There is a positive relationship between each of these—the better you sleep, the healthier you eat, the more you move, the more caring you are with your relationships.
One healthy change will encourage and support the next healthy change. Living your life in balance this way is a healthy one–no matter the number on the scale.
Image Credit: Aneta Gäb