Diets have long been hailed as the go-to solution for those aspiring to enhance their health and well-being, promising swift transformations and quick fixes. Yet, time and again, diets have proven ineffective and even counterproductive. Here are some statistics on dieting to take note of:
It’s important to approach dieting with caution and consider sustainable, balanced approaches to health and well-being. Keep in mind that statistics can vary, and individual experiences with dieting may differ widely. For the latest and most accurate information, it’s advisable to refer to recent studies and reports.
Let’s take a closer look at why diets tend to fall short and what you should prioritize instead to nurture lasting improvements in your health and wellness.
Diets are notorious for their focus on quick, short-term solutions. While they may initially lead to some weight loss, these changes often prove unsustainable over time. As soon as the diet ends, the lost weight frequently returns, leading to a cycle of yo-yo dieting.
Diets frequently encourage restriction, which can cultivate a negative relationship with food. This, in turn, can foster feelings of deprivation, guilt, and an unhealthy obsession with eating, ultimately taking a toll on your mental and emotional well-being.
The restrictive nature of diets can slow down your metabolism and result in muscle loss. This can lead to reduced energy levels, making it even harder to maintain a healthy weight once the diet is over.
Many diets impose limitations on specific food groups or nutrients. This can result in nutrient deficiencies that negatively affect your overall health and well-being.
Diets may promise speedy results, but they often result in disappointment and detrimental effects on your physical and emotional health. Instead of resorting to diets that often offer short-term solutions, consider incorporating sustainable, health-promoting behaviors. Here are some steps you can take:
Shift your focus toward mindful eating. This practice encourages you to be fully present during meals, allowing you to savor each bite and pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. It promotes a healthier relationship with food and fosters self-awareness.
Action Step To Start: Whenever you eat, put your food on a plate or in a bowl and sit at the table to eat.
Prioritize adding in nutrition over restrictive dieting. Embrace a mindset of eating what you want while incorporating what you need. This approach ensures your body receives the necessary nutrients for optimal function, while you remain satisfied and avoid a scarcity mindset.
Action Step To Start: Before sitting down to eat, ask yourself, “Is there anything I could add to this meal or snack to make it more satisfying and/or filling?”
Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine. Exercise not only supports your physical health but also elevates your mood, reduces stress, and enhances your overall sense of well-being.
Action Step To Start: Try a new form of movement every other day until you find some forms of movement you love! For example, try a Pilates class or take a Zumba class on YouTube!
Shift your focus from pursuing a specific body shape to practicing body care and self-respect. Learn to appreciate your body for what it can do rather than how it appears.
Action Step To Start: At the end of each day, write down one thing for which you can thank your body.
Prioritize your emotional well-being. Stress management, relaxation techniques, and engaging in activities you genuinely enjoy can significantly impact your overall health and happiness.
Action Step To Start: Make a list of coping skills, other than eating, that you can try the next time you are overwhelmed by your emotions.
Rather than seeking quick fixes, aim for sustainable lifestyle changes. Concentrate on habits you can maintain for the long term, such as regular meal planning, healthy cooking, and stress-reduction practices.
Action Step To Start: Decide on two new action steps that you can add in to improve your health and that you can realistically maintain long term.
It’s hard to let go of the diet, despite never being able to stick to it because, as counterintuitive as it seems, your desire for weight loss is not really about weight loss. It’s so much deeper than that. It’s all of the dreams and fantasies you’ve attached to weight loss that you feel you are giving up on if you stop dieting.
It’s not about your weight; it’s about what you’ve made your weight mean. “I am lazy. I am worthless. I am disgusting. I am unlovable.”
I invite you to consider, however, that maybe it’s not your body getting in the way of your happiness, but rather the destructive thoughts about your body fueling the unhappiness in your current body.
Change isn’t impossible.
Your body today isn’t necessarily your forever body, but you do need to start getting honest with yourself about what this desire for weight loss is really about. Because if it’s really about health – Why can’t you focus on health-promoting behaviors and let your body settle to the size it is meant to be when you do that?
It’s important to understand that being healthy isn’t just about your body; it also includes your mind.
If what you are doing to try to improve your health leaves you feeling obsessive, anxious, or hyperfocused on food, it is time to reconsider your definition of health. Being healthy isn’t just about avoiding physical problems; it’s about having a good balance of physical and mental well-being.
Here are some reflection questions to help you establish your own definition of health:
Embracing the beauty of being more than your body is like taking a warm journey towards loving yourself and staying healthy in a whole way. You’re not just your body – you’re also made up of passions, kindness, and your own special personality. Being healthy doesn’t mean following strict diets. It’s about celebrating the amazing body that carries you through life. When you eat good food and move your body with care, it’s like showing respect to yourself. You get to enjoy a wonderful mix of thoughts, body feelings, and spirit. Let’s enjoy the happiness of healthy living without sticking to hard rules. Real health is all about having balance, joy, and a strong connection to the amazing journey you’re on. By taking care of your well-being, you light up a path to a wonderful life where self-love grows, and you become the best version of yourself.
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Untamed by Glennon Doyle
For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.
The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
⚠️ Trigger Warning: spicy language and some weight loss talk
There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.
The Courage To Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
A thought-provoking self-help book that explores the profound teachings of Alfred Adler through a unique Socratic dialogue. It delves into the principles of happiness, relationships, and personal growth, challenging conventional beliefs and encouraging readers to embrace their individuality with courage and wisdom.
The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery by Brianna Weist
This is a book about self-sabotage. Why we do it, when we do it, and how to stop doing it—for good. Coexisting but conflicting needs create self-sabotaging behaviors. This is why we resist efforts to change, often until they feel completely futile. But by extracting crucial insight from our most damaging habits, building emotional intelligence by better understanding our brains and bodies, releasing past experiences at a cellular level, and learning to act as our highest potential future selves, we can step out of our own way and into our potential. For centuries, the mountain has been used as a metaphor for the big challenges we face, especially ones that seem impossible to overcome. To scale our mountains, we actually have to do the deep internal work of excavating trauma, building resilience, and adjusting how we show up for the climb. In the end, it is not the mountain we master, but ourselves.
Licensed Therapist, Certified Nutritionist, and Virtual Wellness Coach
Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.
I understand—it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin. Let's simplify things and have you start right here:
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First Steps To Stop Binge Eating
The Food Freedom Lab Podcast
the food freedom lab podcast