The Final 6 Reasons Not to Diet in 2019
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”
~ Albert Einstein
Happy New Year! January is National Dieting Month. No surprise there. Forty-five million people go on a diet every year, many of them starting on January 1st…and most of them ending by February 1st.
We’re finally at January 1 and I still have six reasons remaining from December’s Anti-Diet Advent Calendar for why you shouldn’t diet in 2019. I must have gotten lazy 5 or 6 times during the month of December, which is surprising to me because I thought that number would be much higher.
So here are the rest of the reasons not to diet in 2019…
Reason #6: Diets are expensive.
One of the “new” diets you’ll be hearing about is the Carnivore Diet. Basically you eat meat. Only meat. Oh, and by the way, it needs to be meat from organic and pasture-raised animals. Go ahead and do that for a week. Not only will the sight of meat make you ill, but your wallet will be empty.
Anti-Diet Wisdom: Unless you can trace your ancestry to the plains Native Americans, the all-meat diet is not healthy. Eat a damn vegetable.
Reason #5: Diets may actually encourage mindless overeating.
Many diets encourage you to eat as many “free foods” as you like. Because you feel deprived and stressed over not being able to have what you really want, you may mindlessly eat these “free foods” regardless of how hungry or full you are. Usually the “free foods” are things like kale and celery…but still, eating those things to stave off boredom or eating them just because you can, isn’t healthy behavior.
Anti-Diet Wisdom: If your diet doesn’t teach you how to eat, it’s worthless. That’s why I love Intuitive Eating so much! It taught me that my mistakes in trying to live a healthy lifestyle had little to do with what I was eating…but how I was eating it. Shameless plug — there’s still time to get into the January Intuitive Eating online course! Just click here!
Reason #4: Diet’s make you stupider.
There’s a good amount of research showing that both calorie restricted diets and vegan diets shrink brain size and cognitive function in humans. This makes sense in a starvation situation because we don’t need to do much thinking in survival situation…we need to act on hunger impulses (which is the job of the primitive brain). So our body pulls resources away from higher brain function and thought processes. This not only leaves you with brain fog, but also makes it a true struggle to stay away from junk food!
Anti-Diet Wisdom: Be smart about cutting calories. Yes, a calorie deficit is necessary for fat loss, but big cuts lead to even bigger problems! Try the following experiment for the next month by doing these two things every day: 1.) drink a 16 oz. glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning, and also one hour before every meal, and, 2.) add a deeply colored fruit or veggie to every meal. At the end of the month I bet you’ll feel better and you’ll notice an appreciable decline in your appetite. You’ll be well on your way to a slow and steady weight loss (if you need to lose weight) without making painful changes to your lifestyle.
Reason #3: Diets are a time-suck.
Think about the mental space and extra time a strict diet requires. There’s planning, shopping, prepping, weighing, tracking, thinking, and obsessing. Should I eat when I wake up or fast until 10 AM? Or maybe till noon? Or maybe I should try that OMAD diet? Is it okay to eat this food? Carbs in the morning or evening? How many calories are in wine? Is an apple too high in sugar? Cardio or weights? Did I exercise enough to “earn” ice cream? What am I going to make for dinner? Will my kids eat spaghetti squash? What am I going to eat at the networking luncheon next week? Will I ever be able to drink wine again? I really want that cookie…but my diet says I can’t have it! All of this worrying and questioning yourself causes stress and leads to lost productivity at work, and precious time stolen away from things that really matter – like family and friends.
Anti-Diet Wisdom: See wisdom from #4 and #5 above. Rather than going on a strict plan, start making simple changes that require little thought. Studies show that the more brain power and focus you need to “spend” on your diet, the less likely it is you’ll be able to maintain it long term.
Reason #2: Diets don’t promote true lifestyle change.
Have you ever noticed that there’s this crazy number of recipes for things like “Paleo pancakes” and “Keto cupcakes”? I thought the whole point of going on these diets was to eat real and unprocessed foods. The whole point in doing an extreme “lifestyle” diet is to learn to give up cupcakes, pancakes, pizza, donuts, bread…and pretty much everything else that makes life worth living. My point: if you go on a diet only to desperately try and find replacements for all the foods you really want to eat…are you truly making a lifestyle change?
Anti-Diet Wisdom: I do believe that ancestral-type diets are likely best for us — this could include certain variations of Paleo, keto, Mediterranean, and the Carnivore diet — but if you try one of these diets and immediately find yourself looking for “Paleo fudge” recipes, you’re missing the point of the diet. Our ancestors didn’t eat “Paleo fudge” or any other kind of fudge for that matter. Nor did they eat “keto cupcakes” or “Atkins bars”. Depending on their location on the globe, our ancestors mostly ate plants in their raw form and meat.
Reason #1: Diets don’t work.
Actually diets do work…so long as you can commit to stay on them forever and ever and ever and ever. But no one does. In fact, dieting is actually correlated with having a higher weight. What?!? As if a near-100% failure rate wasn’t bad enough! A 2007 study showed that those who participated in formal weight loss programs were more likely to gain weight over a two-year period! Similar studies in children and teens have shown that kids who diet or restrict food wind up heavier as adults. Want to learn more about how diets make us fatter? Check out this post.
Anti-Diet Wisdom: You’re better off not dieting at all because, while you may be able to have the “body of your dreams” for a short period of time, you may wind up heavier than ever in the long run. Once again, I’m going to make a case for making small and slow changes that are easy to maintain. You can read back through all the Anti-Diet Advent Calendar posts for tips or you can wait until next week (see below)…
Happy New Year! Don’t diet!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the Anti-Diet Advent Calendar, and that it has convinced you not to diet in 2019. Focus on health, self-awareness, and caring for your body and being. That will take you much farther than any diet!
My next post will be a roundup of all the tips and tricks I shared in the Anti-Diet Advent Calendar so that you can work on your health and happiness in the New Year – without going on a diet!
Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer
Learn more about the author here.