To Diet or not to Diet?

In my mind the answer to that question is No! Not ever! Unless, you have been put on a diet by a dietician, nutritionist or doctor for health reasons.

I cannot help but sigh and roll my eyes when people tell me that they are on a diet and then proceed to tell me why. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince people that it is not the way to go. I am not sure, sometimes, why I bother. I should just let them carry on. Four or five years down the line when they have tried every fad diet around and probably weigh more than ever, they will reflect back on the conversation that I had with them. Hopefully they will then see sense.

Part of my motivation in writing this is so that in the future, I will not have to heavily sigh and roll my eyes, I can just press the forward button on my laptop and send them this. Harsh, I know but dieting and the dire health consequences thereof, is also a very serious matter.Remember as well that there is a big difference between weight loss and fat loss!


Here is my take on dieting and why I believe that it is not an option.

Research has proved that most people who go on a diet will regain all the weight plus more once they stop dieting. It stands to reason that if you restrict calorie input that you are going to lose weight. That’s a no brainer. Most diets are not sustainable for a long period of time so the minute you revert back to ‘normal’ eating, the weight piles back on. You then enter the YOYO phase. You go back onto another diet, lose the weight, stop dieting, put on the weight.

Why are diets not sustainable? Invariably a diet cuts out a food group like carbs or restricts certain foods or sometimes recommends that you only eat a particular food, (remember the cabbage diet, lentil diet, soup diet, the list goes on). All that now happens is that you start craving the foods that have been excluded or because your calorie intake is too low, you crave food in general. Result! You binge, or break the diet!

Diets are also not sustainable because they generally are not good for you. Anytime that a major food group is excluded it is going to have dire health consequences. Some diets have not been around long enough for scientific proof, but it is said, as an example, that a diet high in fat and protein can shorten your life by a good few years.

Have you ever seen an active person on a diet? I bet never. Why? If you are active, you need energy hence you have to eat. In some cases, huge amounts to sustain the type of activity. The evil carbohydrate is a very necessary food to provide our bodies with energy. I remember Ryan Sandes (the amazing man who runs huge distances) saying that he loves his hamburger and chips.

There are two points that come out of this. One is that it is very important to choose the correct foods to eat especially when it comes to carbohydrates. Refined carbs are out, choose whole good sources of carbs. Second is that calorie or energy input must always be the same as or less than your energy output in order to maintain a healthy weight. In other words, you must be active. That does not mean that you have to slog away at the gym. There are many forms of exercise or activities that are fun.

Weight fluctuations or YOYO dieting brings on a myriad of health issues such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Most diets sell themselves by telling you that you are going to lose a huge amount of weight in a very short period of time. You are only further damaging your body by doing this.

Dieting invariably induces stress because of the pressure that you put on yourself and this leads to elevated cortisol levels. Then you binge and get more stressed, crave the wrong foods like sugar and so you enter a stressful emotional roller coaster. Studies have shown that very often, young people who diet can have addictive tendencies as they enter adulthood. I don’t need to go into any more details on that subject. I am sure that you get the picture.

When you diet, food becomes the centre of your world. You are continually thinking about what you should and should not be eating. You get invited out and you stress about what food is going to be served and whether you can eat it or not. Maybe you should eat beforehand so that you don’t have to eat the ‘wrong’ foods. You sit and watch everyone eating desserts and feel as if you are missing out on something. You turn down invitations to that kitchen tea because you might be weak and have a slice of cake. You fear getting onto the scale in case you have not lost anything. You eventually develop a very unhealthy relationship with food and with yourself.

Do you really want to live like this? I know that I certainly don’t. I enjoy food and love to eat and want the freedom to pretty much eat whatever I want. Obviously within the realms of healthy eating.

If you want to maintain a healthy weight, with the emphasis on healthy, you need to make certain lifestyle choices. Sometimes a healthy weight is not quite what you imagine it to be. Healthy is not thin! Being thin has its own set of health issues which I will go into another time. You want to achieve a weight that is manageable and not difficult to maintain!

The first thing that you have to do is adopt a healthy eating plan for life. That means making the correct food choices. No sugar, no refined carbohydrates, healthy fats, good quality animal or vegetable protein. Cut out all processed, ready-made, convenience foods. No fast foods. Eat what has grown in the earth or what has fed off what grows out of the earth. Anything that has been ‘made’ in a factory is not good for you. A good rule of thumb is that if the food lasts for ages without going bad, it is most definitely BAD for you. If it spoils easily, it is good for you. Mind you make sure that you eat it before it spoils!

I love to observe peoples eating habits. So many of my mates are always telling me how they just can’t seem to lose weight. So I watch exactly what they eat and invariably, in fact most of the time, they simply eat far too much. Eat less, you don’t need that extra serving or huge helping.

Exercise is one of my favourite subjects. You must stay active for so many more reasons than just to maintain a healthy weight. You will have a better body shape, (stick insect is not a shape) you will be healthier, both mentally and physically. It can be loads of fun and there is so much choice out there as to what you can do from ballet to kickboxing.

I know that I want to have that occasional slice of cake, pizza, craft beer and more. So I mostly eat correctly and I stay active. I don’t want to deprive myself. I want to have a healthy regard and respect for the food I eat. I want to treat my body as the temple that it is, by not stuffing it with junk. It is very tempting to follow a diet because of the quick weight loss but can you now understand why it does not work? Rather let the weight drop off slowly and naturally over a longer period of time by making the correct life style choices.

None of us is the same and our bodies all function differently, so it stands to reason that we need to adopt specific eating patterns to suit us as individuals. If you lack the knowledge, motivation or need some assistance in establishing a healthy eating plan, then speak to someone in the know. There are very many tools that one can use to get onto a sustainable eating plan.

Moderation in everything is key!

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