Four ways to stay focused on your own health goals:
- Fad diets don’t work, not long term anyway. The weight you lose is likely to be water weight, and probably some muscle mass too with little effect on body fat. And as soon as you stop or slip up, you’ll put all the weight right back on, and then some more. That’s how the market makes its money. Keeping this in mind is helpful to avoid fads.
- Many advocate cutting out whole food groups (eg, paleo/ketogenic/clean-eating) which can lead to nutritional deficiencies while others severely reduce energy intake (eg, 5:2 diet /meal replacement shakes/ juice detox) which can cause dehydration, nausea, lethargy, headaches and dizziness. Cutting out food groups and being highly restrictive is not a long-term solution. Stay focused on balance.
- Dieting is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder and yo-yo dieting affects body image, self-esteem and contributes to issues such as depression and anxiety. They can also be socially isolating. If you are following strict food rules or only eating at certain times this can make going for dinner with friends or eating lunch with work colleagues a lot more difficult and may lead to you feeling alienated and alone. Food as a social experience is hugely important, embrace it.
- They don’t teach us how to eat well for life — None of the juice cleanses or detox teas show you how to eat well when you’re busy and stressed, they don’t help you figure out how to eat well when you’re on the road, or at a restaurant, or visiting the in-laws. This is a major problem in my opinion because it keeps people trapped in the yo-yo diet cycle instead of educating them and empowering them to take control of their health and well-being. Being educated on the best approach to food is a way better long-term option.
When it comes to nutrition there is no one-size-fits-all approach. As the sunny summer months approach I’m planning on focusing on the following areas:
- Eating three balanced meals a day and 2-3 snacks
- Eat the rainbow (more colours = more nutrients)
- Don’t deprive yourself, enjoy treats in moderation
- Drink lots of fluids
- Eat relevant portion sizes for your goals
- Aim for ½ plate of vegetables, ¼ of carbohydrates and ¼ protein at mealtimes
- Move more! Incorporate into your daily life
I believe this approach results in a much healthier and more enjoyable relationship with food and promotes better health outcomes in the long run, so let’s ditch the fad diets and aim to give our bodies the nourishment they deserve.