Inside Scoop: Restrictive diets suck! Here’s how we’ve found freedom in food, and live healthy lives with balance.
From Keto to Weight Watchers or from Paleo to Vegan, we’re sure you have heard of the many different ways to lose weight and all of the different promises, and even science-backed info, of how shedding pounds work on these no-fail diets.
We’re also sure you have heard of success stories, have heard many say that they have followed said diet, and it’s worked in their favour. Don’t get us wrong, these restrictive diets can work for some people, and not everyone is set up for more of an intuitive approach to nutrition.
But the question is, when the restriction is over, and you have to go back to real life, can you adapt to a more normalized way of eating? And, from all of the past diets that you’ve done, how many of them have you maintaining your weight loss? For us, restrictive diets suck for weight loss, and with our past experiences… they just don’t work as a long-term solution.
We’re not here to tell you that your diet doesn’t work! Especially from a medical standpoint, it may actually help you heal. It really may work for you, but doesn’t it just suck to have to give up all of the fine things in life (dairy, bread, ice cream, wine), when you really might not need to?
After all, the word “die” is in the word “diet”. Don’t you want to live your life?
YES RESTRICTIVE DIETS SUCK, SO HERE ARE OUR SOLUTIONS FOR DITCHING THAT DIET MINDSET AND FINDING FREEDOM IN FOOD
The whole word “diet” is associated with a short-term goal.
You’re on a diet to lose 15 pounds before the dreaded summer bikini season arrives, you want to lose 20 pounds to fit into your wedding dress etc. The whole perception of a diet for the purpose of weight loss is to obtain an immediate result from a temporary action, but the the reason why restrictive diets suck is because there is no teaching on how to transition into healthier habits, so once the result is achieved the diet is stopped and old habits often return, which then equals weight gain.
TRY THIS: Try being mindful of your purpose for weight loss and looking at it from a nutrition POV rather than a temporary gain. The best weight loss results are often achieved with those who are ready to feel amazing, feel healthy, and understand that the weight loss is going to be healing rather than a vanity move. Love yourself and treat your body with the respect it deserves.
You gain more weight back than you initially lost.
As mentioned above, diets suck because many people go on diets, lose the weight and then gain the weight back quicker than initially lost. This is called Yo-Yo dieting or Weight Cycling and often the weight gained back is probably more then the initial loss. To quote Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. This repeated failure can have negative effects on a person’s mental health and could result in an eating disorder.
TRY THIS: If you choose to adapt to a specialized way of eating in order to lose weight, make sure nutrition is involved and try not to cut out your macros or deprive yourself of certain foods (unless medically warranted). When you restrict yourself of these foods, especially macronutrients, your body goes into a form of starvation mode, so that when you’re ready to add these foods back into the diet your body thinks it needs to stock up. This often triggers a binge of that certain food, remember, carbs aren’t they enemy, fat is good for you and protein can come in plenty of different food varieties. Just try and find balance with them all so you can feel satisfied and full.
Yo-yo dieting messes up your metabolism.
When you go on an extreme calorie-restricted diet, your body responds by turning your calorie and fat burning ability to “low” in order to conserve energy for essential body functions such as breathing, digesting food and keeping the brain, heart and lungs working. In essence, your body is under stress and this type of stress affects the function of your thyroid gland responsible for your metabolism. This not only puts the breaks on your ability to burn fat, but also diminishes your capacity to break stored fat for energy.
TRY THIS: Place emphasis on gut healing foods, cleansing foods, and whole foods that support proper digestion, fat burning, and increases metabolic functions. Most likely, a whole food based diet is a great place to start if you are looking to lose weight, so minimize the highly processed foods, sugar, meat and dairy, and see how you feel.
Count, count, count away your calories.
A lot of restrictive diets almost obsessively and compulsively are associated with counting something, and a lot of them discuss caloric deficit.
This poses two issues: first, everybody processes calories differently and not all calories, when considering the whole food, are created equal. For example, consuming spinach or sweet potatoes are a much more nutrient-dense option than consuming a processed, low-fat muffin, but they may add up to the same amount of calories. Chances are, you will burn off the spinach and sweet potatoes faster than the muffin (unless you are exercising), because they contain energy promoting properties and don’t mess with your blood sugars.
Second, when you are constantly obsessing about the food you put in your body as a certain amount of calories you may find it to be a battle to maintain your calorie restrictions. Food is no longer associated with pleasure, but with negativity.
TRY THIS: Try reading your label ingredients instead of the calories on the package. The more whole food based it is, the easier it is to feel full and create sustained energy that doesn’t have you reaching for more food just hours later.
Most diets do not educate you on healthy food choices.
One of the main reasons why restrictive diets suck, and to add to the above point, is because many diets do not educate you on food choices but rather provide you with strict meal plans, recipes, points and calorie counts.
However, for you to be able to achieve long-term success you should be able to make healthy choices wherever you are in the world – whether on vacation, at the super market or at a BBQ with friends. You should be your own nutritionist, because you know your body best!
TRY THIS: If you find a food program that you think will help you lose weight and hold you accountable, ask whether or not there is nutrition education behind it. Figure out if the restrictive phase of the plan will ease you into a healthy lifestyle, and ask if there was science involved in designing the plan.
Your mindset and the guilt associated with eating something that is banned from the diet.
Before even starting a diet, you know that you will be depriving yourself of the foods you love. Entering into a program with this mindset doesn’t always support success.
This constant experience of deprivation will bring on food cravings that will be difficult to ignore… You ignore them for 5-days or 6-days, but when you eventually give in, this sends you on a roller coaster binge; only to feel guilt and remorse after and restrict yourself even more the next day. As we said, it is a slippery road that may lead to eating disorders.
TRY THIS: Try to remove negative food labels, such as bad or good, healthy or unhealthy and really question whether or not the food you choose is going to nourish your body or mind, or going to make you feel good mentally or physically. Tune into your body and it’s needs and remember, food is pleasure, food is fuel, food is nourishment, but when food is a chore maybe it’s time to reassess your habits.
How do you handle food cravings?
Your diet is most likely not addressing food cravings and how to handle them. Everyone has cravings – ice cream on a hot summer day, your afternoon sweet tooth pick me up, a beer in the evening. The issue isn’t having the cravings; it is how to properly manage them. Having the tools to help navigate through these cravings and learning how to reach for the healthier food alternatives will help eliminate the ever controlling craving.
TRY THIS: Find balance with your cravings and tap into your emotions. If a craving is controlling, question why. If the craving is mild, ask yourself what your body is missing. It could be a nutrient, a certain food group, or even a texture.
Our solution to dieting is pretty simple, but you have to be ready for the answer, and it pretty much stems from loving and respecting your body and the food you put in it.
Indulge every now and then, but for the most part make healthier choices, and understand that changing your lifestyle to a healthier one might not be a quick fix, but it is a lasting fix. Make small sustainable changes at your own pace, it might take you a month or it might take you a year, however the benefits for your health and for your body are for life!
If you’re looking for a good challenge, and a 5 day meal plan that is simple, healthy, whole food based and doesn’t have you restrict anything, make sure you check out our 5 Ingredient Challenge here. 25 recipes made with 5 ingredients or less, healthy eating and meal planing tips, and all in only 5 days.