If you come from the world of dieting, just like I did, it can be uncomfortable and unsettling to walk in the opposite direction. We want results, and we want them yesterday. None of us want to diet forever though, right? Once we hit our goal, we’ll drop the diet and maintain the results with healthy eating. Does this sound familiar? In theory, that sounds great. In reality, not so much. If dieting worked that way, we would diet once, hit our goal weight, eat “right,” and never diet again. Sadly, that’s not what happens. Many of us jump on the dieting roller coaster, and unfortunately, some of us can’t seem to get off and stay off. We may step off for a while, but because “it worked,” we get back on. Or we learn of another diet, so we jump on it for a while. There’s an entire amusement park full of these roller coasters, and some have a lot of validity behind them. The question we should ask ourselves is, “are they sustainable and healthy?”
I believe in eating a variety of real, whole foods, so in my opinion, diets simply aren’t the way to go! But why? Why are they so popular? Why is it so hard to stop once you start? For the love of real food, why?????
Why Are They So Popular?
Starting a new diet can be exciting! It also brings hope. For some, it’s a great way to connect with others because it gives us something to talk about and share, especially when there may be results, even though they’re short-term. The “last supper” is also fun! You know, the night before the big diet starts. I’ve had more last suppers than I could ever count. They’re fun, right!?!? It’s your last chance to eat what you want and as much of it as possible! I remember those days.
In those days, I couldn’t stand in a grocery store checkout line without a new diet or gimmick catching my eye. I also couldn’t pass up a dieting conversation at the office. I tried many different weightloss supplements way before I knew how to research them. As for food, well…I tried low-calorie. I tried juice fasts. I tried low carb. I tried the cabbage soup diet. I tried not eating. I binged and purged. I often used harsh detox methods. I even used enemas. I exercised. I lifted weights. I ran. You get the picture. It was constant. It wasn’t about fueling my body; it was about losing weight. It wasn’t about being healthy; it was about being skinny! It wasn’t about living life; it was about food. It was awful, and it was unhealthy!
I did all of that, and much more, for nearly 20 years. The scale would go down 25 to 30 pounds and then back up 25 to 30 pounds. It would go down again, then up again. I was on a roller coaster. I got off the roller coaster in 2011, but it wasn’t until years later that I learned to eat real food. My weight today is consistently on the very low end of that 25 pound sway, and I’m happier, healthier, and fitter than I’ve ever been – at 40 years old!
I no longer get consumed with the next big diet. I don’t deprive myself of anything. I don’t stress about where I’m going and what kind of food will be there. I don’t worry about when and how much I eat. My relationship with food is still delicate, which is why I give myself permission to eat what I want. The beauty of it is, I want and eat, real wholesome foods 95% of the time. That’s the food I crave. There is no such thing as “I can’t have that.” It’s always, “I don’t want that.” I arrived here because I gave up dieting and started giving my body the right fuel. I changed my perspective from weight to health! Today it’s about being happy and healthy. It just so happens that I know eating real food will keep me at a healthy weight because it keeps my body functioning optimally. It also keeps my mind healthy, which is what matters most!
How To Know If A Diet Is NOT Sustainable?
You End Up Binge Eating. If you find yourself binge eating, it’s not sustainable. That’s a vicious and unhealthy cycle. When we binge, we are typically filling our bodies with sugar, chemicals, processed foods, refined carbs, and a lot of unhealthy fats. That’s counterproductive.
Unstable Weight. If it worked for a period and then you found yourself back where you started (or even heavier), it’s not sustainable. Think about it, if it worked, you wouldn’t have gained your weight back. And if it was sustainable, life wouldn’t have gotten in the way.
Additional Health Concerns. If it’s causing you other health issues and concerns, it’s not sustainable. Food should be our medicine, not the cause of additional issues.
You Feel Shi##y. If it’s causing you to feel anything other than fabulous, it’s not sustainable. Would you honestly set a goal for yourself to feel badly?
You’re Obsessed with Food. If you find your thoughts consumed with food and what you “cannot” eat, it’s not sustainable. We should be excited about our food and what we “get” to eat.
You’re Unhappy. If it doesn’t make you happy, it’s not sustainable. Dieting can contribute to unhappy feelings in more than one way. That’s not sustainable or healthy!
You’ve Failed. If it’s not fueling your body, it’s not sustainable. If you’re fueling your body, you’re setting yourself up for success. If you’re depriving your body, it’s just a matter of time before you fail. I don’t believe in setting ourselves up for failure.
Why Are Diets Unhealthy?
Gut Health. If we’re not eating a diet full of real food, it’s likely our gut microbiome isn’t flourishing. The more diverse our gut flora, the happier and healthier we will be.
Slows Metabolism. Our hunger increases, cravings shoot up, and our metabolisms slow down to conserve energy.
Feelings of Failure. Breaking a diet can lead to guilt and low self-esteem.
Food Obsessed. Deprivation will automatically make you obsessed with food.
Fatigue. Dieting can lead to feelings of fatigue for many reasons: lack of vitamins and minerals, lack of healthy fats and proteins, not enough calories, too many sugars, etc.
Unhappiness. Dieting can lead to unhappy feelings due to poor gut health, hunger, vitamin and mineral deficiency, lack of exercise due to fatigue, poor sleep, feelings of depression associated with deprivation, and confliction with quality time with family and friends.
I know it’s difficult to break away from dieting, especially if you been there for years, even decades. It’s possible though, and it will be one of the most freeing things you’ll ever do. It could change everything, including your weight, and it could change it forever. It may not be an overnight fix, but it’s a fun, yummy, sustainable, and healthy journey! And, it’s a journey you can walk with your friends and family because it’s for EVERYONE!