In a survey conducted in 2017 on New Year’s Resolutions, almost 50% of Americans surveyed said that losing weight was their main goal, second only to saving money . The countdown to the New Year means many people are gearing up to start a diet as a way of reaching their weight loss goal. Yet, a majority of people who set out to try a new diet will not be able to sustain it.
In fact, research has found that dieting can be a trigger for far worse effects: physically, mentally, and emotionally. With the New Year on the horizon, the diet chatter and pressure to lose weight is louder than ever. If you find yourself contemplating the dieting bandwagon for the New Year, here are some reasons why you should ditch dieting for good:
#1: Diets don’t work in the long-run: Simply put, diets are not sustainable ways of living. Dieting might be disguised as a “lifestyle change,” but if a diet is advising you to eat less than your body needs or to cut out whole foods groups, it will not be something you can keep up for the long-run. Calorie-restricted dieting for the purpose of weight loss is not something that benefits mental or physical health. In fact, many people who diet will find that eating becomes more stressful, food is chaotic, and any weight lost is often regained, plus more.
#2: Diets can trigger eating disorders: While eating disorders are the result of many different factors, dieting can be a risk factor for developing these devastating mental illnesses. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, a history of dieting and other weight-control methods is associated with the development of eating disorders, such as binge eating . Unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as skipping meals, fasting, or using drugs and/or supplements to suppress appetite can trigger more severe eating disorder behaviors. Dieting in any form can be one of the most important predictors of developing an eating disorder .
#3: Diets can cause poor body image and low self-esteem: Dieting often creates more negative feelings about body image. Many people who are dieting feel that their bodies are not acceptable the way they are, and struggling to comply with rigid diet rules can create unnecessary feelings of failure, guilt, and embarrassment. When dieting, success is measured by what the scale might say or how many pounds are lost, but these arbitrary standards don’t support a more positive body image or promote health-engaging behaviors.
#4: Dieting doesn’t allow you to eat intuitively and enjoy food: Diets come with food rules that tell you what you should or should not be eating. These rules are often in contrast to what your body may be wanting, craving, or needing on any given day. The clash between what your body may need and what you “should” be eating according to a diet can make food choices utterly confusing. If you truly want to feel at peace with your body and learn how to eat all foods intuitively, then dieting and food rules cannot be part of the picture. Food rules also take away the pleasurable aspect of eating, which can make food a source of guilt rather than enjoyment.
#5: Dieting can worsen anxiety and depression: Insufficient nutrients, undereating, and poor nutrition overall can play a role in declining mental health. Especially for individuals who may already have and/or be susceptible to anxiety and mood disorders, lack of proper nutrition can be a risk factor that triggers poor mental functioning. Skipping meals, cutting out major macronutrients, and restricting overall intake can create an imbalance in blood sugar levels and hormone production, which can be linked with depression.
So what should you do instead of dieting?
With dieting linked to so many negative physical, emotional, and mental health effects, make a commitment to jump off the dieting bandwagon for good. Many people associate dieting with being healthy, but nothing could be further from the truth. You can still engage in many health-promoting behaviors without making dieting part of the equation. This might include:
- Learn how to eat intuitively to enjoy a peaceful relationship with all foods
- Move your body in ways that feel good to you
- Nurture healthy relationships with yourself and others
- Respect and honor your body, no matter your size or weight
- Be kind to yourself and do things that take care of your physical and mental well-being
You deserve to live a life that allows you to thrive in all aspects of your being. Don’t let dieting prevent you from living to your fullest potential. Say no to dieting in the New Year (and always)! Make a resolution that will allow you to celebrate your body and care for yourself in a truly healthful way.
If you are struggling with eating or having a difficult time caring for your body, please connect with a team member at The Meadows Ranch today. We would love to hear your story and learn how we can help.
: The Statistics Portal, “What are your 2018 New Years Resolutions”, https://www.statista.com/statistics/378105/new-years-resolution/ Accessed 16 Dec 2016
: National Eating Disorder Association, “What are Eating Disorders – Risk Factors” https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/risk-factors Accessed 16 Dec 2018