The diet world is very confusing. There are a plethora of belief systems that all preach about knowing the best way to lose weight, look better and feel better.
It would seem that we have all the answers to the begging question of “how can I consistently lose weight and get my body back?”
Detox concoctions, supplementation, point systems, calorie counting, specific food diets, “fat burner pills”...you’ve all been down this road before!
In today’s post I would rather not go into each specific fad diet or fat burning pill but instead focus on something that is usable right now, today to make changes to your nutrition and health. I’ll first talk a little bit about the purpose of a diet, the mentality behind it, and then some solutions to finally getting rid of those detox drinks and point systems!
What’s the purpose of a diet?
Dieting trends have been going on for ages. Back in ancient Greece physician Hippocrates stated that people who had a healthy body had a healthy mind. If you were overweight during this time you were seen as someone who was unstable or who had an unbalanced mind. He believed that overweight people suffered from lack of sleep, aches, pains, flatulence, and constipation. The cure for this problem was a strict diet, more exercise, and vomiting!
It’s amazing to see that similar sentiments are the groundwork for all diets. Take away the vomiting part and you got yourself a diet trend that is ripe for 2020.
Let’s take a step back quickly and ask ourselves...why are diets necessary?
I believe it comes down to the simple fact of us as a human race having judgements about one’s own body.
Take a look at the ancient greek artwork and sculptures. Do you notice anything about the figure of both men and women?
Men are all muscular and women are curvy but fit.
If this was the belief way back then, it’s no wonder why these visions of what is ideal for a person still stand strong.
These beliefs of what “should” be have led companies to produce millions of products over the years that position themselves as trends to help get you to that ideal body type.
A diet is something that gives you rules and regulations as to what you can and cannot eat that will lead you down a path of success. A diet is like a guideline, it’s a system that you can use to help navigate the often confusing world of nutrition and health.
The end goal has and always will be ...to look better naked. Ultimately this is the motivation for most dieters...they want to lose weight, tone up, get slim and match that perfect body image that is so often portrayed in our media.
Sure you might be someone who needs to eat specific foods because of allergies, nutritional deficiencies or genuine health concerns (diabetes, heart disease, etc.). For those, a diet means something that will just put you at a healthy baseline.
Diets might have a noble cause (getting people to look and feel better) but have some negative connotations for the dieter.
Cultivating the diet mindset
The dieter might believe that they don’t have the power and self control to get healthy on their own accord. Diets have sold us this idea that we need their help and that there are certain foods that promote ultimate health.
What this does is create a need and reliance on diets in order to find success in health.
Whether you like to admit it or not, you might fall into this category of “dieter” who is constantly looking for the new fad that can finally make that big change you’ve been looking for.
What this does on an emotional and mental level can have a major impact.
For example if you try diet X and buy into all the beliefs of that diet. Maybe this diet calls for low carb foods. You do your best to follow these guidelines - changing your normal eating habits towards eating more fat and protein. This is fine but what happens when you eat the piece of bread when you are out to eat?
Do you immediately feel guilt and regret?
What do you normally do once you feel guilt and regret….do you tend to say “okay I screwed up, what’s the point of being on this diet if I can’t follow it!”
Do you then go on to binge on snacks later on in the night because you feel that you failed and therefore no longer care about what you eat?
If this is true for you - you are fighting against yourself to stay committed to something that isn’t realistic.
Feelings of guilt, anger, and loss of will power are negative feelings that sometimes find relief in the exact thing that you are “supposed” to be restricting. You eat your feelings, feel like crap the next day and promise to yourself that next Monday you will be better.
This is seriously an act of self-torture.
What would you say to a friend that did this style of dieting? A friend that constantly felt guilty and angry at themselves for disobeying the almighty diet?
I can bet that you would meet them with compassion and support. Why don’t we do this with ourselves?
I think it’s because of this diet mentality - a mentality that is rooted in being strict, feeling restricted and feeling deprived of the foods that you really WANT to have.
So then...how can you make changes in the body without being on a diet?
Break the diet mindset
Anyone who is struggling to find a diet that works, to lose weight and feel better can do themselves a huge favor and stop searching for that new fad diet.
Fad diets are fads for a reason...they get popular because some celebrity did a diet and found success. News media needs constant stories to sell papers or now, internet subscriptions...what’s one thing that everyone has in common? We all have a body that we need to take care of.
It’s funny sometimes thinking back to how the Atkins diet was hugely popular in the 90’s and how a very similar diet, the Keto diet is virtually the same thing. Is there a specific difference between these diets? Or is it just that a fad is a fad and is something that is temporary?
So instead of constantly searching for that perfect diet give yourself a damn break and let it be okay to not “be on a diet”.
This is not something that will be easy. Some people have been dieting for years...since their teenage years to possibly even earlier! Parents with well intentions putting their kids on a diet to “help them with their weight” starts spinning those wheels in the brain.
Getting hooked on periods of starvation, binging, deprivation, and ravenous hunger. This exhausting cycle is at the core of what the diet mindset can do to you.
It’s no wonder why obesity is still a huge problem even with all the scientific evidence available. We know what foods are “good” and we know what foods are “bad”. Why is it then that people struggle so much...and for so long?
It’s about the habits in your life
Habits are at the foundation as to what you do on an everyday basis.
IF you have habits that support your goals, your health and body...then you will no doubt find success over time since these habits are repeatable over the long term.
IF you don’t have habits that support your goals, your health and body...then you will search for outside sources to give you those rules and regulations as to what you should be doing with your food and life.
Think about it...you don’t need to remind yourself to brush your teeth everyday (hopefully not the case!)
This was made an automatic habit long ago in your life, one that gets done without any extra attention or energy.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your food intake, and food choices worked the same way? No extra work needed, no planning...just the act itself.
For example here are a few habits that can drastically improve your health and wellness with little to no work
Drink water when you are thirsty
Try to eat a colorful plate each day
Move the body each day
Take time for self-care
If you just consistently did these habits for months on end you will find that you no longer need to feel guilt and deprivation because of a lack of a specific food. For example you can have your cake, eat it slowly and not feel bad that it’s going to send you 3 weeks back on progress.
This is because your other habits in your life support and allow for this. Getting a colorful plate will help keep calories low and nutrient density high. Moving the body will warrant more food intake as well as build valuable muscle. Taking time for self-care can help you to stay positive, guilt and shame free.
Habits are so effective because they will stick with you for years to come - not just a temporary fix. Habits become routine, they become part of your day just like brushing your teeth in the morning has become a habit you don’t even pay attention to!
THIS is what the diet industry isn’t telling you...that you don’t need their supplements, their meal plans, their detox drinks. They want you to rely on them and they want you to forever be stuck in this diet mindset.
We know that diets don’t work. A study done by Grodstein in 1996 showed that 95% of dieters regain their lost weight 1-5 years after the diet is done. Also found in this study that 40% of dieters actually gained MORE weight after the diet had finished.
This is crazy and shocking..isn’t the point of doing a diet , to lose weight and keep it off?
Why then do 4/10 people on a diet actually gain more weight afterwards? Why does 95% of people on a diet gain back their lost weight within 5 years?
It’s because diets are temporary fixes to a much bigger and broader issue.
So instead of focusing on what diet you should do next to lose that “stubborn belly fat”, take a look at what things in your life are supporting you. What habits do you have that are good not from a weight loss perspective but from a mental and emotional health perspective!
Reject this diet mentality - the talking heads on TV are not out for your best interest. We all know that diets are only temporary...why expect big time change if you already know a diet can only get you so far?
You are more powerful than you think - you can impact change on your terms, in a way that feels right for you. I believe in you - I want this for you. I live this way and know that it’s possible for you to get there also.