Why You Should NOT Diet
by Audrey Porterman
Beach season is just around the corner. The cover of every fashion magazine in the checkout line is screaming at you that time is running out to lose weight and offering you miracle diets to help you shed pounds fast.
Yet how many times have you dieted in the past unsuccessfully? Or how many times have you dieted, lost some weight, and then gained it all back in just a few months?
If you want to lose weight and keep it off in the long term, experts agree that you have to STOP dieting. Confused? Here are a few of the many reasons why you should not diet if you want to lose real weight and keep it off over time.
Most Diets are Unhealthy
Everyone is off carbs these days. Different diets take different approaches: Gluten-free, Atkins, South Beach, etc. The one thing that they have in common is that they limit the amount of carbs you eat.
While we could all probably stand to cut out those Krispy Kremes and French fries, the problem with these and other diets that restrict whole food groups is that they don’t promote a healthy way of eating.
Any diet that tells you that certain foods are “bad” or “off limits” is encouraging you to cut out important nutrients and promoting unhealthy attitudes toward food.
Dieting Messes Up Your Metabolism
Many people think of dieting as a way to limit their eating for a short time, and then they return to unhealthy eating habits.
Severely cutting calories or even cutting calories for a short time followed by “normal” or even binge eating can negatively impact your metabolism, pushing your body to go into conservation mode. Your body will work to store fat and increase your appetite.
In the long-term, it will be harder to increase your metabolism.
You’ll be Exhausted
Dieting promises to give you a lot of energy. However, when you are severely cutting calories or cutting whole food groups out of your diet, you are depriving yourself of the nutrients that you need and you will feel exhausted. Not only will you feel generally more fatigued, but you also won’t be able to exercise as efficiently, limiting your weight-loss efforts.
Fatigue often leads to over eating, as well. Think about it: When you have had a long day and you are feeling very tired, but you can’t get the rest you need because you still have work to accomplish, what do you do to give yourself a jolt of energy?
You may try a cup of coffee or a soda, but you are also more likely to grab a snack or a small meal to get the energy you need. The trouble is that you may not actually be hungry or need the calories.
Over time, you will sabotage your weight-loss efforts and may even gain weight.
Diets Promote an Unhealthy Focus on Food
When you’re dieting, you start to analyze every bite you take. How many calories does this have? How much fat is in this? If I eat this, how little will I have to eat later?
Dieting encourages an unhealthy fixation on food, and this encourages unhealthy attitudes about eating.
You stop enjoying eating and you start dreading it, maybe even feeling guilty for what you eat. This encourages binge eating and other unhealthy behaviors, rather than helping you to connect with your body and to give it the nourishment that it needs.
Dieting Isn’t a Lifestyle Change
Dieting teaches you to restrict your eating in the short term. If you want to really attain better health and permanent weight loss, you have to make changes in your lifestyle. Permanent changes.
You can’t just decide to stop eating cookies or carbs for a few weeks. You have to make an effort to lower the amount of sugar and processed carbohydrates regularly, and instead eating more complex carbs, fruits, and vegetables.
You can’t decide to cut out pizza for a couple of weeks. You have to learn to view pizza as an occasional treat. You can’t decide to exercise non-stop for a few months. You have to learn to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Real weight loss has to come from making real change.
Dieting is not only a temporary solution to a long-term problem, but it also promotes poor health and bad behaviors. The next time you think about dieting, consider making some lifestyle changes instead.
Just start small: Add more vegetables to your diet. Start walking more. Over time, you can build up to the lifestyle you want to create and the weight loss you want will come naturally.
(Audrey Porterman is the main researcher and writer for doctoralprograms.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Ohio State, with a degree in business management. Her current focus for the site involves a doctorate of education and counseling phd programs.)