Disclaimer: This article does not take into consideration persons with serious health issues that need drastic diet changes that a doctor or health practitioner recommends to preserve life.
Most diets, especially the ones we see rising in popularity, don’t take into account a person’s individual needs. They all promote weight loss, by way of a calorie deficit, but not the construction of healthy habits that lead to long-term change and success.
Many health professionals back various diet programs and I know I am in the minority when it comes to my views on this matter. I coach people in building their own nutritional intuition so that they can determine what their body needs in regards to food. I also coach balanced and non-restrictive eating patterns and help people understand what their cravings actually mean. Everyone is unique, so why and how they eat is different from one person to the next, so following a cookie cutter eating plan doesn’t work for the majority of people.
To better understand this subject, we need to define what diet really is. It is your habitual eating routine, what you do each and everyday, and it’s heavily influenced by your mindset and environment. These days, though, the word diet is synonymous with fad eating systems that last a few weeks and/or promote a restrictive, drastic, change in your eating routine.
Diet systems will mostly focus on one thing: losing weight. However, they don’t incite a person to ask the really tough questions that help them find their reasons for wanting change, and the clincher is that the actual food is rarely the problem; habits and mindset determine the behaviour.
Another facet to consider is diet systems don’t necessarily make you healthy, physically or mentally. There’s evidence that people who use them gain all the weight they lost, and then some, back. This can lead to a vicious diet cycle as a person who gains the weight back will likely try another system only to end up feeling like they’ve “failed” over and over again. This is very damaging to your self-esteem and promotes an unhealthy view of self.
In contrast, when you approach your goals with a balanced attitude and plan, you allow flexibility with your eating habits. You don’t have to choose foods from a narrow list or buy “weight loss” products, you don’t have to eat at regimented times, or demonize certain foods. You can plan meals with food you enjoy and you don’t have to avoid gatherings with friends and family because the food there doesn’t fit your diet plan. The only difference is that you will respond to your hunger cues by listening to your body and everything else stays the same.
What should a change in diet actually look like? It shouldn’t be painstakingly hard, but it should feel like you are being drawn in by your own energy and will to act. Cravings should be minimal unless you are dealing with food addiction. It will become easier to trust your own decision making and recognize what your body is asking for so you can enjoy life and function at your best.
If you’ve ever used diet programs to try to achieve your health goals, please share your experience with me. All emails are kept confidential.