Sunday, 10 May 2015

International No Diet Day

It has been quite a while since I have written a blog. Quite a while, indeed. However this past Wednesday (6th May) was a very special, blog-worthy day, acknowledging a topic close to my heart. On Wednesday, it was "International No Diet Day."

 Yep, International NO Diet Day. You probably think that I got that title wrong, that I have gone insane. You may think it crazy that I'd be suggesting you stop dietiting; I mean, don't we need to follow strict diets and do a truckload of exercise in order to be "healthy?" Well, my friends, this is actually NOT the case. Now, I am not suggesting you eat take-away to your heart's content and sit on the couch all day, as that certainly would not be great for your health. Rather, ensure your food choices are varied and flexible, and take opportunities to move your body in ways that are enjoyable for you.

Why am I suggesting a more relaxed eating regime, rather than 'diets?' Because diets are crap. No, really, they are. Diets do not take into account your individual needs and circumstances. They do not include a variety of foods - think The Cabbage Soup Diet or The Grapefruit Diet, both of which suggest eating only the one food. Clearly there is no variety there. Diets are not flexible either. You feel like a sandwich for lunch today? Too bad, the diet says you have to have salad. Does that seem enjoyable to you? I thought not.

All diets are built on similar fundamentals - they severely restrict the types of food that you can eat and/or severely restrict the amounts of food (and thus calories/kilojoules) that you can eat. As a result, you will feel constantly hungry. Irritable. Moody. Restless. Unable to concentrate. Tired. Cold. All the time. That is, of course, until you give up on the diet and return to your usual eating habits and regain all the weight. Seems like a lot of effort and discomfort, all to get right back to where you started! Diets can also be expensive, especially if you are buying shakes, buying memberships to programs such as Tony Ferguson, Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, or if you are required to buy expensive ingredients or appliances such as juicers or blenders.

Aside from the obvious inconveniences of diets already mentioned, there is also damage done to your body and your metabolism. Our bodies are oh so smart; we really don't give them enough credit! We think we have the determination to stick to strict diets, but our bodies are so much smarter! You may choose to eat only 1200 calories per day, but you're body will scream "hey, there's not enough food around, we better switch into 'starvation mode.'" Cue the tiredness, inability to concentrate, low energy levels, irritability, hunger and feeling cold, which I mentioned earlier. Additionally, there will be serious abnormalities going on inside your body, as it tries to survive. Your hormone levels will become unbalanced, meaning that your body will shut down non-essential functions (including re-production, which is why ladies may be waving goodbye to their periods when dieting) and it will cling on to it's fat stores in attempt to survive the [self imposed] "famine." As a result, you may not actually lose any weight at all! What a waste of time and effort!!! Additionally, your body will build up it's resilience to dieting every time you try a new diet. This is why constantly trying the latest diet is not likely to bring you success; you are simply putting your metabolism under more pressure and making weight management even harder!

I know these are hard truths to swallow. It goes against everything we typically hear. However the key to finding a healthy weight, appreciation of your body, and a good relationship to food and exercise, is balance. Ditch the strict diets and eat a variety of foods according to your appetite. Move your body in a way that you enjoy and that feels good for you. If you have been dieting for a long time, this change will not come easily, but it is an important concept to embrace, and it certainly tastes much better!!!

I hope you all had a happy International No Diet Day! Emily. x


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