Are you on a diet? You’re not alone — year after year, new diets are created and marketed to help the world’s 1.9 billion overweight adults shed those unwanted pounds. But with extreme dieting linked to eating disorders and health problems, is there a better way to lose weight? In honor of No Diet Day, Health & Life examines the pitfalls of dieting and how you can reach your ideal weight WITHOUT going on a diet.*
No Diet Day
Created in 1992, No Diet Day is an annual celebration of body acceptance, dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle and spreading the facts about the inefficiencies of commercial diets. It was borne from a desire to help people accept themselves as they are, without pressure to conform to the media’s beauty ideals. Both health and the emphasis on looking a certain way are the driving factors that push people into dieting, but it may not be a sustainable option.
Diets Don’t Work
All over the world, millions of people are embarking on restrictive regimes in an attempt to lose weight and get fitter. There are hundreds of options to choose from, and more are added each month; the weight loss industry is expected to be worth a staggering $350 billion globally by 2017. And yet, global obesity levels have doubled since 1980. If diets worked people would only need to diet once, but the figures speak for themselves.
What is a Diet?
A diet is defined as “a food regime designed to promote weight loss,” and is usually characterized by a period of restriction in either calories and/or certain food groups. In the past, dieting was recommended solely to those whose health was threatened by their weight. Advice was simple — eat a little less, move a little more. Nowadays, people are encouraged to diet for cosmetic reasons, as well as to improve their health. Modern commercial diets come in all shapes and sizes, to suit all tastes and goals.
But whether it’s a fat-free diet or a carb-free diet, long term results are for the most part elusive. Chances are you know someone who dieted but then put the weight back on, or who couldn’t stick to the diet “rules” and gave up. Why? Simply because commercial diets do not promote health and are not a sustainable way of living.
Diets that restrict certain food groups can cause nutrient deficiencies, which in turn can lead to health problems. The body needs a variety of nutrients in order to achieve and maintain optimum health, yet many diets require the dieter to eliminate essential nutrients.
Low fat diets
- Have proven links to depression. In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that a low fat diet had adverse effects on mood and significantly increased levels of anger and hostility.
- Encourage poor food choices and promote weight gain, as diet food manufacturers replace the fat with sugar, which happens to be both addictive and one of the main causes of the obesity epidemic.
- Promote the consumption of refined carbohydrates. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition confirms that eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
High protein diets
- Increase the risk of kidney stones and other kidney problems. A systematic review of studies relating to kidney disease found that excess protein in the diet can lead to a build-up of ketones, which puts stress on your kidneys as they have to work hard to get rid of them.
- Can cause constipation due to the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have linked excessive protein intake to certain cancers.
Very low calorie diets / meal replacement diets
- It’s extremely difficult to get all the nutrients you need on under 800 calories a day. This can lead to malnutrition, causing nausea, constipation, gallstones, hair loss, and depression.
- Create a sense of deprivation that can lead to binge eating.
- The majority of health replacement shakes and bars are heavily processed and contain artificial sweeteners and additives that have no part in a healthy lifestyle.
As you can see, dieting is a short term fix that fails to deliver long-term results and even puts your health at risk!
The No-Diet Diet
The word “diet” comes from the Greek “diaita”, which meaning “a way of life” or “a mode of living.” Commercial diets, as we’ve seen, are based on short term dietary restrictions, self-criticism and guilt. A healthy diet should include all the essential nutrients your body needs, be a source of pleasure and joy, and something you can sustain for life.
If you’re overweight and looking to get healthier, why not try a No-Diet diet? Set the intention that you’re going to give your body the healthiest, most nourishing foods. Instead of worrying about what foods you can’t eat, start your day with the thoughts: “What CAN I eat today?” or “How can I treat my body well?” Here are three tips for successful, long-term, healthy weight loss:
Watch your sugar intake: Eating sugar or other refined carbohydrates causes your insulin levels to spike and sends a signal to your body to store fat, making you gain weight and increasing your risk of Type 2 diabetes. What’s more, the sugar crash experienced after eating sweet things creates a sense of hunger. Eating sugar makes you want more sugar, which makes you gain more weight and become more unhealthy! But this doesn’t mean you can’t have a sweet treat every once in a while. Indulge your sweet tooth with fresh fruit, and healthier sweeteners such as honey or pure maple syrup, in moderation. Go to our website (https://health-n-life.com/eat-cake-to-lose-weight/) for a healthy cake recipe that will satisfy your sweet tooth AND treat your body to some healthy nutrients.
Crowd out the junk food: instead of telling yourself you can’t have certain foods, feast on wholesome foods like vegetables, beans, pulses, fruits, nuts, seeds etc. The more of these healthy foods you eat, the less you’ll crave the junk foods. In addition, the complex carbohydrates and fiber they contain will help you feel fuller and keep you energized much longer than a sugary snack!
Be kind to yourself and focus on the positives: Many people embark on a diet because they want to change something they don’t like (weight or health), or because they find themselves lacking. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but often this creates more negativity, which, combined with a restrictive and uninspiring dietary regime, can add a lot of stress to your life. Begin by accepting yourself as you are, right now — whatever your weight or health condition — and start making positive lifestyle changes from a place of love and acceptance.