As the new year approaches many people will make a new year’s resolution to lose weight. Some will begin the latest fad diet. The problem with diets is that they do not work. It is impossible to sustain restriction from a major food group, sustain restricting calories below 2,000 a day, or to continue some plan that calls for you to eat grape fruit for a day and then only bananas the next. According to the American Dietetic Association, “There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat. No super foods will alter your genetic code. No products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. Some ingredients in supplements and herbal products can be dangerous and even deadly for some people. If you want to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and lose fat, the best path is a lifelong combination of eating smarter and moving more.”
In addition to the fact that diets do not work, current research suggests that diets may be harmful to your health. According to the small study, published in journal Psychosomatic Medicine, people who limit their calorie intake could increase the risk of developing potentially deadly conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer because dieting tends to raise stress levels. Yo-Yo dieting can alter a person’s metabolism and result in making it harder to lose weight in the future.
Many of those who suffer with Eating Disorders began their struggle with a “harmless” diet. The thought may have been something along these lines “If I could just lose a little bit of weight I would be happier.” The person may already be struggling with depression or an anxiety disorder and need an outlet for this unmanaged mental illness. Once the person experiences praise for the weight loss, often the dieting mentality takes over and restriction can become a way of life. Other times an individual cannot sustain deprivation and turns to binging and purging to attempt to lose the weight. The sense of control, the escape from emotions, and the perceived “high” that comes from restricting or binging and purging takes on a life of its own. Many overweight folks describe the previous scenario as a precursor to the development of their eating disorder. While eating disorders are a serious mental illness, not a diet gone wrong, the reason an individual develops an eating disorder rather than another addiction may stem from dieting behavior.
The choice to begin a diet often stems from a healthy choice- wanting to take better care of one’s self. And there are definite health risks to being overweight: heart disease, dDiabetes, and stroke. Dieting, however, may not be the answer. Creating an overall healthy lifestyle can create a more lasting change. Eating a balanced diet, with vegetables, fruit, protein and healthy fats, coupled with moderate exercise is the best way to be healthy.
In addition to these changes, encourage everyone to address their emotional health. Activities that encourage mindfulness, such as yoga, pilates or a meditative walk can be invigorating to the mind, body, and soul. Taking time away from the stresses of life to laugh with friends and family, participating in creative activities and practicing overall self care are great ways to take action in creating a healthier you.