It is that time again! The season that has become the social norm (or expectation) to overindulge – happy holidays! Along with accepting overeating, drinking too much, increased stress, less exercise, and resultant beating ourselves up for giving into temptation, we tend to follow up with the plan to torture ourselves even more – the Restrictive Post-Holiday Diet.
I get it, we’ve all been there (I assume anyways. At least I can say I definitely have, and the clients I’ve seen, have). Now is not the time to make anyone feel worse about themselves, but rather to bring a change of thought into action and address some issues around “diets”. Does this cycle of overconsumption and subsequent guilt year after year have to be our norm? For some, it may end up into possible weight gain, and then feeling like they need to lose weight through over-restrictive and short-term diets for quick results – all in all, leading to negative relationships around food. So should we diet or shouldn’t we?
My wish for us all is that we could think about food positively. Overall, I don’t think restrictive diets lead us down that path. There is a time and a place for a “diet,” for example, a gluten-free diet is a therapeutic diet needed for those with Celiac Disease to thrive. As well certain types of diets may be chosen as a lifestyle to support health or for personal preference and are often sustained for long-term. To keep things consistent, I am using the term “diet” to coin a short-term, “quick-fix,” avoidance, over-restrictive (lacking certain nutrients for health) type of diet, cleanse or detox.
Upsides and Downsides of Diets/Detoxes/Cleanses
|Kickstart to healthy eating
Cuts out added sugars, fats, sodium
Increases vegetable intake
Feel better & more confident
|Accepting Overeating and weight gain as a norm
Negative relationships with foods – GUILT, Unrealistic Goals
Over Restricted Diets are hard to maintain
Not sustainable for long-term health – lack specific nutrients essential for quality life
Loss of Water Weight and Fat-Free Mass (Muscle) – depends on diet
Cycle of Yo-Yo dieting shown to be detrimental to health
Safety and efficacy of program’s supplements??
As you can see my list of “downsides” is longer than the “upsides”. I often see such great results posted from these restrictive diets because, yes, it does cut out less healthy foods (ie. “junk” foods, empty calorie foods) and usually comes from a starting point in which the diet was high in fats, sugars, sodium, and processed foods (needless to say, any change from where the person started, would have been a benefit). As well, the calories may be very low and will show weight loss results but are often too low to nourish the body with nutrients from whole foods for long-term health. Keep in mind, as you adequately feed your body with a variety of nutrients it needs, you will promote that natural youth and beauty as well!
Instead of a diet, maybe we can shift from focusing on what we cannot have and refocus on nourishing our bodies with whole foods for life while decreasing intake of processed foods/treats/alcohol (but being okay with the occasional intake as to not deprive ourselves of what we may want). It may take more time and more work on your end, but it will be sustainable, you’ll be able to make choices and substitutions on your own, and it will work within your individual life.
When it comes to choosing a certain way of eating for yourself, ask yourself:
Am I happy eating this way for a long period of time? (If you answer no, that diet isn’t for you)
Are there any foods that I really miss that I’m not allowed to eat? (If you answer yes, that diet isn’t for you)
So yes, it’s holiday season – go out there with a new mindset of not giving up on your nutrition and fitness goals. Allow a little treat from time to time if you really want it – think, eat what you love, leave what you like (so is that jelly filled chocolate nobody really likes worth it just because it’s there?), and continue with your regular exercise routine and keeping that body moving as much as you can!
Love Your Food, Love Yourself, Love Others