Raise your hand if you have tried a particular diet before. If we were all in the same room together, we would be able to see that everyone’s hands would be raised. I hear about a new diet everyday promising magical results overnight. If there was one quick fix that worked, we would not constantly see one weight loss program after another promising the latest and greatest results.
We live in a fast paced society where we want instant gratification. We want to see that scale move, and we want to see it move now. Diets prey on that desire and make promises that cannot possibly be maintained. Most diets have a few things in common:
1. Short timeframe and not maintainable. They are short term. They promise results in a short amount of time whether that is 2 weeks, 28 days, 2 months, etc. You may have the willpower to cut carbohydrates for 28 days, but that does not mean you will be able to continue that practice after the diet ends. When one diet ends, the weight lost may slowly reappear. Then, we look for the next quick fix. When we yo yo diet, we confuse our body and metabolism. It becomes harder and harder to see results. The question I would ask before you try the next latest and greatest diet craze is can I continue this practice day in and day out for the rest of my life.
2. They may not be individualized. When you go to the doctor, they check your weight, height, health history, medications/supplements, energy levels, blood chemistry, and many more important metrics for assessment. Nutritional recommendations should be individualized just as medical recommendations are individualized. Your doctor does not give everyone the same medication. If I sit down with you to discuss your nutrition, I will never give you recommendations until I have fully assessed you. Everyone has a different health history, metabolism, activity levels, lifestyle factors, and nutrition history. That means everyone’s nutrition should look different.
3. They involve restriction. Most diets involve cutting out something. Is it cutting calories, sugar, carbohydrates, fat, gluten, or something else? I resort back to point number 1. Can you cut out something for the rest of your life? If not, how is cutting it out for the short term going to help you? Restriction can also lead to binging after a short time period, and we may think we lack willpower when restriction is really the problem.
I am here to tell you that diets can work in the short term, but they very rarely result in long term success or a lifestyle change. When we have a goal of losing 20 pounds or decreasing body fat by 5%, that is something we want to maintain after all of that hard work. You can lose the weight or body fat and maintain those results, but it requires hard work and it never happens overnight. Next week, I will discuss how we can work on making a lifestyle change and not deprive yourself. Have a great week!
Staci Tobolowsky, MCN, RD/LD