For the sake of the New Year: New You. I’m going to start this year with a confession:
I hang my head to admit that I have promoted diet culture in the past. I have encouraged restrictive eating. For me, my family, and clients. I have endorsed companies that encourage this kind of behavior. I have made money from this kind of culture. And I am ashamed. Ashamed that I could have encouraged someone to focus more on the number on the scale, than their health. To consume themselves with the idea of losing weight, looking a certain way, and chasing this desire to be “thin”. As if that actually matters.
But I’m so proud that I no longer endorse this kind of behavior. At Sage and Thyme Wellness we focus on inclusive behavior. On true wellness. On families, on health.
So, with this, I have to say:
That’s it. That’s all I have for you. If you thought you were going to get on here and see some sort of wise soliloquy to answer why you can’t stick to a diet. I can’t. I won’t. And you can’t make me.
Personally, I’ve never had the personal discipline for dieting for very long. Like a lot of people, I try for a few days, get hungry, then stop. But my clients have. A lot of my clients come to me after they have kids, are trying to have kids, or when they hit a plateau in their current diet and the weight isn’t moving. Truth be told. A lot of my work is destroying what we have been told about food and scratching a big black line through “diet culture”. A few years ago, I would have slung some poorly manufactured “snake oil” at them and told them it was their cure-all.
Fad diets like the keto diet, gluten-free diet, low-carb diet, no-fat/low-fat diet, cabbage soup diet, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast (is that still a thing? Marie Osmond, where you at?), Whole-30 diet, Zone Diet, etc. are lies. I hate to say it. But they are. You may lose weight in the short-term. While 85% of people who fad-diet manage to lose weight, only 15% of those will keep it off. And 95% of people will either relapse or gain all of the weight back within 5 years. While some diets, like the keto diet, are based on scientific data (keto has been found to greatly decrease seizures in children), many diets are based on assumptions and opinions. I could start a fad-diet and make millions, based on nothing but my hopes and dreams.
In fact, the majority of people who fad-diet, won’t just gain the weight back, they will gain additional weight. Why? Dieting doesn’t work. These diets promote a restrictive lifestyle, don’t encourage a strong support group, usually don’t include physical exercise (only encourage), and are too difficult to sustain. I personally could not live a life without cheese for the sake of 5 pounds. It’s simply not worth it. Believe it or not, we can’t survive on kale alone.
Additionally, this kind of yo-yo weight loss habit that is caused by fad-dieting can lead to a higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, loss of bone density, perimenopause (in women, obvi), hair loss, hormonal imbalances, loss of muscle mass, and increase in body dysmorphic disorder, orthorexia, low self-esteem, and even suicide. Not to mention that half of the American girls between the 1st and 3rd grade already have thoughts about their weight, body image, and are dieting.
What are we promoting for our children if we are focusing on fad-dieting and weight-loss?
As you go into this New Year please don’t spend your time, emotions, energy, on striving for a number on the scale that validates nothing. You are amazing. You are beautiful. You are so much more than your scale, BMI, caliper measurements. You are worthy of health and happiness. Leave the fad-diets in the last decade. Where they belong.
What can we do instead of Fad-Dieting:
1. STOP FOCUSING ON THE SCALE. Focus on how you feel.
2. Eat all food groups. Don’t waste your time restricting food groups or foods (unless you have an allergy, are concerned you have an allergy, are working with a doctor).
3. Hydrate. Drinking plenty of water can help your body function properly. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day can keep your organs properly lubricated, helping you with digestion and waste.
4. Focus on what is on your plate rather than a specialized diet. When you eat, try to make sure that you enough of each food group on your plate: vegetables, protein, whole-grain, fat.
5. Eat enough fat. Fats like avocado, nuts, fish, eggs, etc are loaded with nutrients that a required for bodily functioning. Don’t skim on fat.
6. Plan your snacks. This is a big one for my clients who enjoy grazing. If 3 square meals a day aren’t your thing, that’s ok! Have snacks on hand that you enjoy and help fuel you.
7. Lose the guilt. Did you go through the drive-thru and order fries? Cool. There’s no shame in it. I love french fries. I used to think of them as a weakness. And when I deprived myself, I would just want them more. So, if you have a craving enjoy it. You are less likely to overindulge if you simply allow yourself the pleasure.
8. Stop focusing on losing weight. Focus more on being healthy. In the wake of the obesity and disease epidemic in this country, we have replaced being healthy with being thin. These 2 are not mutually exclusive.
9. Eat less processed foods. In reading The Dorito Effect, Mark Schatzker alerts us all to the startling number of “natural flavors” present in all of our foods, even “all-natural” meats. Know what’s in your food. Limit, don’t eliminate, the amount of processed (read: foods manufactured or altered by humans) foods.
10. Stop Stressing. Did you know that stress is a hormonal response? When we experience stress, the hormone cortisol increases in our bodies. Our body goes into a preservation mode, of sorts, and holds on to excess weight. Finding ways to relieve stress can help you to achieve not just your physical health goals, but your mental health goals as well.