Since advertising was a concept, there have been health fads made up, tossed about, and thrown in humanity’s face, telling us how we should live and how we should lose weight. Touting the miracle cure, the miracle elixir, the miracle pill, and of course, the miracle diet. It has never stopped, and with the proliferation of the internet, has only become something of a pandemic. The Paleo Diet, The Atkins Diet, The All Banana Diet (yes, you read that correctly); the list is long, varying, and frankly frightening. And maybe you’ve heard success stories, possibly even from your own family and friends, about how they dropped ten pounds just by eating baby food (yes, also a thing) but there are two simple things wrong with buying into the dieting fad:
- Your body is super special and unique.
- Diet’s psych our brains out.
Let’s explore those.
Anthropologically speaking, your body is wired to want certain foods during different times of the year. It follows this process even if you are getting proper nutrients (which 89% of American’s don't, by the way). In winter your brain urges you to eat more, putting on fat layers for the winter; this is the starvation mode, your body is worried that food will be scarce. Diets unduly activate your starvation mode, putting your body in a constant state of stress.
Let us say, for instance, your new diet has no carbs. If presented with a carb, maybe at a lunch with friends, maybe just opening your fridge and seeing leftover pasta, when you deny the urge to eat that carb, it puts stress on your brain, and your brain tells your body that it needs to go into starvation mode. So your brain holds on to the fat stores it has and tries to reap as much fat from whatever you are eating. Which then, the added weight can make you more stressed and the process restarts. Diets also tend to shed a modicum of weight, and then when that dieter returns to their regularly scheduled eating program, they gain weight again, which leads them to yet another diet. It’s truly a vicious cycle.
However, blanket statements are unwise when it comes to health, so we explore the thought of your body and it’s likeness of a science lab. You are special, you are the only one of you, and your body works the way it wants to work and will not be told differently. An eating plan that works for a 5’2 female athlete, may not work for a 6’4 sedentary male office worker, and what new diet has worked for whatever celebrity is at the forefront of it, may not be compatible with your body type and metabolism.
Which is why we come back to diets and diets generally being terrible. But here’s a secret, you don’t need to diet. What you do need may be much harder to implement and control (at first). The most success you will have is with a lifestyle change. Choosing to live a healthy, balanced, vitamin and nutrient-rich life is a commitment and an ongoing experiment. Finding what your optimal eating plan takes time and effort, trial and error, but the rewards last far longer. So you won’t be turning to the next fad after the last fad shed the ten pounds you needed off in time for vacation, but then inevitably put back on when you went back to how you were eating before. So do your body a favor, break the cycle, stop the diet.