You’ve decided to get your health under control. You consider an exercise and weight-management routine. You look at easy fixes or miracle “snake oils,” products that lead many unsuspecting consumers down unhealthy paths. Going on a diet is the choice of many; however, what do you really gain from going on a diet?
Merriam-Webster defines “diet” a few different ways. “Habitual nourishment” is one definition. Another definition of diet is “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight.” Examine these definitions closely. The definition you choose to accept makes all the difference. Is your diet a lifestyle choice of “habitual nourishment” or a temporary restriction to reduce weight?
Your doctor or nutritionist may have prescribed a particular diet for you in order to keep you from a full Big Mac Heart Attack! You should take the advice of your physician very seriously. If you are under strict orders from your doc to eat this or don’t eat that, well, you better do it. What you eat, that is your “habitual nourishment,” is an essential part of your healthy lifestyle.
On the other side of the “dieting” coin are those temporary restrictions that we call “going on a diet.” You may have seen a home diet plan on TV or in an ad in a magazine and decided, “What the heck. I’ll give it a try.”
Unfortunately, although these diets can leave you feeling good at first, they ultimately let you down in the end. Maintaining a healthy and happy you is unlikely to be the result of a 90-day workout plan or three-month diet. It is a lifestyle, a deep-down, soul-pounding change in your personal life that you commit to for the rest of your life.
A study from the University of California – Berkeley (2005) found that 95 percent of all dieters regain their weight within one to five years. Ninety-five percent! Why waste your time? Diets can be unsafe, they can create an illusion of control, they don’t fix your life and you can fall into the dangers of the diet yo-yo! Let’s shake up your diet perception and see which definition of “diet” you’ll choose to follow.
1. Quitting your diet increases your mental strength. Yes, quitting and mental strength go together. When you make a conscious choice to let go of your destructive behaviors and live healthy forever, you are taking a mental stand.
2. Defeat the “Dieting Mindset”! The University of California – Berkeley (2005) discusses the dieting mindset, the perception that your body is unsatisfactory. Instead of criticizing every detail, develop healthy habits. Be happy with who you are, knowing that you’re living a healthy lifestyle.
3. Save money! Research has found dieting to be a $40 billion a year business in America — more than the government spends on education annually.
4. Let go of your “temporary fix” mentality. Many people diet before summer or a Caribbean vacation. A 2007 study published in American Psychologist discusses how dieting with a “temporary fix” mentality can cause weight gain and health issues. The study found, “In sum, there is little support for the notion that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits.”
5. Support your true self. Stop expecting a world that only exists in magazines, movies and television series. There is no perfect, so you can stop setting ridiculous standards and be yourself. The world needs you to be YOU!
6. Get off the yo-yo diet experience and save your life. Research published in Archives of Internal Medicine (1994) found that regular cycles of gaining, losing and regaining weight (yo-yo dieting) play a role in coronary heart disease and death. The study states, “There are stronger and more consistent links between body weight variability and negative health outcomes, particularly all-cause mortality and mortality from coronary heart disease.”
7. Diets may make you feel angry and emotionally out of sorts. Is this your body telling you that it’s not getting what it needs?
8. Address the deeper issues in your life. If you jump on the chance to diet and go wild with it for two weeks and then begin to slowly trickle off your diet, there may be a psychological reason behind it. Don’t hide behind a diet, face the truth.
9. Choose the joy of food. Diets are restrictive in nature. In most diets, your focus is not on the wonderful, nutrient-rich food you can be consuming, but on the food you are not allowed to eat. Instead, enjoy the healthy foods your body craves.
10. Take the perfectionism complex out of your life. Nothing and no one is perfect, and diets are not a mentally or physically healthy way to feed those notions.
11. If you are young, you shouldn’t be dieting at all. Very recent research presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (2014) found that the younger women diet, the higher risk they put themselves at later in life. The research states, “The younger a woman was when she started her first diet, the more likely she was to use extreme weight control behaviors like self-induced vomiting, misuse alcohol, and be overweight or obese when she reached her 30’s.”
12. Dieting can intensify self-esteem issues.
13. Quitting your diet may give you fuller, healthier hair. Dieting has been found to cause hair loss and thinning.
14. Eliminate unnecessary stress! Diets often require adding more hard work to an already long day filled with tasks at work and home.
15. Dieting may increase depression. A 2010 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine notes, “Dieting may be deleterious to psychological well-being and biological functioning, and changes in clinical recommendations may be in order.” The study focused on how low-calorie dieting increases cortisol levels. Increased cortisol levels can decrease bone and muscle health, decrease immune function and impair digestion, as well as cause weight gain.
16. Quitting your diet can support a healthy metabolism. Certain diets wreak havoc on your metabolism, which leads to increased weight gain after your diet or cleanse is long finished.
17. Dieting may leave you dehydrated and cause an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolyte imbalances may lead to twitching, convulsions and severe muscle spasms.
18. Unshackle your inner you! Release yourself from the chains of punishment and guilt and live free again.
19. Increase your focus. Research compiled at the University of California – Berkeley (2005) found a link between focus and dieting. The research states, “Medical studies indicate that people on diets have slowed reaction times and lesser ability to concentrate than people not on a diet.”
20. Lastly, dieting is just no fun!
Do you want your diet to run your life? Going on a diet may offer a temporary fix to an underlying issue but may cause severe mental and physical problems later. In order to live healthy, happy and free from the dieting chains that bind you to a few specific foods, take control instead.
Your determination to improve your health by eating differently and exercising is admirable. However, make it a lifestyle choice that sticks. The Alternative Daily offers up a plethora of delicious nutrient-rich foods you can enjoy without the feelings of guilt. Put health and happiness before image and take dieting off your menu.
—The Alternative Daily