The word diet has two meanings:
The definition widely followed by today’s culture is “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself.” According to the latest fads, people and advertisements will tell you: “Avoid this!” or “Drink this!” or “Complete this challenge!”
The fact is 95 percent of diets fail, and most people regain that weight (or more) in 1-5 years. Dieting, or the pursuit of weight loss, is ironically one of the top predictors of future weight gain. Would you take a prescription with a 95 percent failure rate?
Still, the diet industry tops $60 billion dollars every year, thriving on promising more than it can deliver on weight loss or management. In reality, the diet industry does just enough to keep people coming back again and again.
Dieting may lead to temporary weight loss. However, it also leads to increased risk of poor body image, overeating, binging, and eating disorders. Dieting can slow metabolism, causing the body to become more efficient with less food. Additionally, any form of restriction can have emotional and physical consequences, not limited to depression, fatigue, weakness, social withdrawal, and irritability.
As Snickers says, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Why pay big bucks for temporary weight loss with awful side effects?
Many people feel overwhelmed and confused by the mixed messages and misinformation about nutrition. Sadly, the diet industry tricks people into overriding their body’s internal regulation system, leading to disconnect and distrust in their natural ability to eat nutritious food when hungry and stop when full. Feeling as though they’ve tried and failed at it all, they hit diet rock bottom.
Diet’s second definition is “the kinds of foods that a person habitually eats.” A diet doesn’t need to be something a person goes on and off. Intuitive Eating, a process-based approach to developing a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body, aligns with this definition. It has over 70 studies to date citing positive outcomes, including greater sense of well-being, better glycemic control, decreased BMI, lower risk of chronic disease, and decreased overeating. Intuitive Eating allows people to make food choices that honor their health and taste buds. All foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle provided individuals eat with attunement, noticing the various aspects of how one feels before, during, and after eating.
Everyone has a diet. Is yours defined by manipulation, elimination, deprivation, and rules? Or does it allow mindfulness, pleasure, variety, freedom, and attunement when eating? It’s never too late to abandon diets consisting of rigid rules and restriction and to begin viewing your diet as a collection of healthy, whole, and satisfying foods.
Blair Mize, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN is co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group, a nutrition & lifestyle counseling practice operated by registered & licensed dietitians/nutritionists. Memphis Nutrition Group believes in a non-diet approach that promotes overall health and optimal performance without compromising the enjoyment of food. For more information call Memphis Nutrition Group at 901.343.6146 or visit http://www.MemphisNutritionGroup.com.