Today, I start my first blog of a series which will tell the truth about diets and why they don’t work, and why they are not the answer to reaching your goals.
I will look at dieting and what it’s supposed to achieve. I will then look at why calories don’t matter & what does, the lowdown on fat vs carbohydrates, why we’ve been misled by the food industry, the “healthy” alternatives to sugar and much more…
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For now, sit back and relax whilst I take you on a journey to demystify & learn the truth about diets, and why they don’t work…
Before I begin, I must point out that when I refer to the word “diet” I’m not talking about the situations when you’re on a diet for serious health issues i.e. coeliac or are following a vegetarian or vegan diet. I’m talking about when the word “diet” is used to represent, what is normally a short term finite restrictive eating plan with the goal to lose weight.
How many times do you hear yourself or someone say “I want to lose some weight before my holiday”, or “I need to get healthier so I’m going to go on a diet” or “I’m going to cut out carbohydrates this week as I’ve heard it’s better for you”? You’re determined this time to make it work, and are going to be so good with your weekly allowable treats, you might even join a slimming club, as all your friends go and this time that’s what you need to help you do it!
The diet industry in the UK is a huge business, they even make it easy for you by providing branded “diet” foods that you can snack on, cook in the microwave quickly and make the adding it all up extremely easy.
Why diets are not the way to go
What if I was to tell you that on average, 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1-5 years. Moreover, the deprivation of restrictive diets may lead to unhealthy eating cycles. Your body naturally doesn’t want you to starve either, and it will respond to overly-restrictive diets by slowing down your metabolism to hold onto the food its getting, for fear of starvation, and in doing so make it even harder for you to lose weight.
Many diets can be potentially damaging
Restrictive diets, or those that get you to eat in a certain way, and especially those including processed foods, recipes with unhealthy ingredients etc. (have you heard of the chicken recipe that uses diet coke to cook it in!) are often lacking in essential nutrients and do nothing to teach you about overall healthy eating. Once you’ve completed your diet, the majority of people then slip back into their old unhealthier ways of eating that caused the weight gain and health issues in the first place. This is more than often the beginning of what is known as ‘yo-yo’ dieting, which can also bring its own health problems.
Being on a diet (which for a lot of people can be a forever thing) where their life is full of constantly counting points & calories, weighing food, weighing themselves and starving themselves during the week so that they can save enough points to enjoy a trip to McDonalds and a glass of wine at the weekend. If you asked most women (and some men), they will all agree to have followed such a regime at some point in their life, and many continue to do so either all the time, or when their jeans start feeling a little tight.
This sort of obsession is unhealthy, not only from the food being consumed, but from the fact that this sort of repeated behaviour can lead to eating disorders such as emotional over-eating, anorexia & bulimia. According to research, people who diet are 8 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who don’t.
Now if you’re already being honest with yourself from reading this, you must be admitting that actually being on what seems a permanent diet, or repeatedly going back to being on a diet really isn’t much fun. When we restrict ourselves in such a way, we are not generally in the best of moods, and if you add to this the fact that energy levels may also be lower too, due to the fact of restricting calories, or other nutrients, it’s not really the happy place we want to be in. There is no pleasure involved in this road to seemingly better health, and it is very common for women especially, to adopt an unhealthy attitude towards food, and therefore develop a bad relationship with eating and food generally.
So, I hear you ask, what should I do instead?
For many, this is where the knowledge & support of a Nutritionist or Nutrition Coach can help as each of us are completely different. Not only in the way we look and feel, but also in the path we have trodden through life, and in the way our lifestyle is currently. Whether it’s weight loss you are aiming for, or want to have more energy – what you eat is only a small part of your overall healthier lifestyle and so many contributing factors can predispose us individually to suffer from symptoms whereby our body is showing us a flag to be acknowledged. This may be as simple as a headache, or more complex, such as suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms etc. You may feel you have a tendency to bloat after meals, or after eating certain foods, you may struggle to lose weight easily, or you may have very low energy levels during certain times of the day. These are just a few of the extremely many symptoms our bodies can produce to let us know something may be out of balance.
As a general guide, you should therefore be looking to: –
– Ditch the diet and embrace gradual changes towards an overall healthier way of being – being happy & healthy is a long term goal, not something that can be achieved in a short space of time. Rather than opting for the latest fad diet, focus on making gradual changes to eating more wholesome foods that have been processed as little as possible, every day. Change your relationship with food to focusing on nourishing yourself with natural, nutritious and whole foods.
– Agree to love and nourish your body (it’s the only one you’ll have).
– Be realistic about how long it will take you to achieve your goals – if you are aiming for permanent weight loss and a more nutritious lifestyle, changes need to happen slowly to ensure healthy adjustment, not only with what you eat & drink, but also with your mind & body.
– Become more mindful of the food you choose, and how it makes you feel – digestion and satiation starts before food reaches your mouth. Think about how food is nourishing your body. Think of how you respect your body. Even the look & smell of food can begin the digestive process. Eat at a table not in front of a TV or device. Chew your food at least 10 times, and slow down your overall eating time. Look at food, think about what you’re eating, smell it and savour it.
– Recognise when you’re hungry, instead of just tired or emotional – being in tune with your eating patterns will help you.
This is only the beginning of your journey to throwing away the scales, stopping counting calories and making amazing gradual permanent changes that will make you feel & look fabulous inside & out. I will delve in to why calories don’t matter and what does, in my next blog, so make sure you’ve signed up to my newsletter and followed me on Facebook to find out more…
In the meantime, if you’d like help with your journey, you can contact me, to arrange an initial, free, no obligation 15-minute phone call.
Have an amazing weekend.