Anti-Diet Advent Calendar Reason #31: Diets Makes You LESS Healthy


A quick note about diets…

First, let’s go over a quick definition of the word “diet”. What comes to mind when you hear that word? The definition of “diet” simply refers to the kind of foods a person or animal habitually eats - without any sort of attached judgement. Problem is, most people associate the word diet with pain, deprivation, and lists of foods that are “good” or “bad”. We’ve taken a benign word and charged it - and ourselves - with negative meaning.

So as I post daily about why you shouldn’t “diet”, please remember that when I refer to that word, I’m usually talking about the 4-letter kind that we love to hate….but that we continue to do despite the fact that the diets aren’t working for us.

Reason #31 NOT to Diet in 2019: Diets make you less healthy.

If you’re dieting “for your health”, which is a common (but BS) reason that people give for going on a diet, you should know that dieting can actually be bad for your body. Weight cycling – the loss and regain of weight – is correlated with increased risk of illness and death. That means staying at a heavier weight is actually healthier than yo-yo dieting! Need proof? There’s plenty of research supporting that diets not only do not work, but that they’re bad for our health! Check out this study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

What you should do instead…

Anti-Diet Suggestion: Decide not to diet. Weight cycling is bad for your health, so reevaluate your reasons for attempting an extreme diet or cleanse. Stop basing your food and exercise decisions on body weight and appearance (because neither is a good predictor of internal health). And be aware that many programs and meal plans like keto, Paleo, and Whole 30 call themselves “lifestyles”, but are really nothing more than glorified extreme diets that are very difficult to maintain long term. Maybe a few people have success with them, but the research shows that the vast majority of people struggle to make the enormous shifts in lifestyle called for in these diets.

If you are really interested in improving your health (with weight loss often happening slowly as a happy side effect), make small shifts that are easy to make and maintain. Take inventory of what foods you and your family eat right now and ask yourself “How can I make the foods we already eat a little healthier?” This might mean adding a side of leafy greens or a bowl of berries to dinner, or upgrading from white rice to brown rice, or trying a new grain like Farro, or switching to grass-fed meats and eggs. These small upgrades won’t help you lose 39 pounds by next week, but they also aren’t terribly painful to make, are easy to sustain, and will increase your health (and decrease your weight) over the long term!

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Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer

Learn more about the author here.