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How often have you said ‘I’m going to go on a diet’?

I’m guilty of saying it, or I have been. But in the last few years I’ve become more and more aware of an undeniable fact about diets.

Diets do not work.

People who diet are almost always made unhappy and fatter as a result.

That sounds strange because a diet is about losing weight. If you’re putting on weight then you’re just not dieting properly, surely? Strange as it seems, dieting is proven to promote weight gain;

  • Your metabolism slows down (on anything less than 1200 calories a day) and your body works extra hard to store calories as fat, because  its thinking “shit, there’s a bloody famine on”.
  • Dieters become preoccupied with the foods they can’t have and engage in binges before swinging back into restrictive eating.

Not only that, but diets damage you, mentally and physically;

  • Yo-yo dieting is terrible for your body. Its actually healthier to be overweight and stay at that weight than to lose and gain weight repeatedly.
  • Diets give rise to disordered eating. Disordered eating is thought to affect between 10 and 15% of women – none of whom would be classified as being anorexic or bulimic but who nonetheless are fiercely focused on maintaining a certain weight or shape. This obsession with not putting on even a pound leads to maladaptive practices, such as skipping meals, intense exercise, binging, and vomiting, smoking to lose weight, or using dieting pills.

In short, diets are unhealthy, counter-productive, a tremendous waste of your time.I’m increasingly realising that the answer is committing to a healthy way of eating – and living – for the rest of your life. To me, wanting to be healthy isn’t connected to wanting to lose weight or be a certain size, but a fantastic byproduct of being healthy is that you will look and feel better than before. Here’s how it works

  • As someone once said, eat food, not too much, mostly plants!
  • Eat when you’re hungry/stop eating when you’re full – listen to your body
  • Eat everything in moderation (a wide variety of foods). Sometimes your body will really really want a cupcake, other times it will really really want a banana. “If I eat a cookie I’ll be fat” and “Cake is a sinful bad food I should never touch” are both examples of disordered thinking. No one cookie can make you fat and no food is sinful in itself – plus life is more fun with treats!

Here are some great reasons that motivate me to eat healthily

  • I want my body to be strong, healthy and fit to live my life the way I want to, so I need to give it good stuff
  • Eating a varied diet with lots of different fruit, veggies and whole grains will (hopefully) help me to enjoy a healthy middle and old age without serious health problems. Needless to say that as well as smoking and alcohol consumption, many diseases and cancers are closely linked to a poor diet, usually with too much sugar/meat and processed food.
  • It makes me feel good and helps me to enjoy life!

Although this all falls under a heading which might be termed ‘common sense’ – it also has a name – Intuitive Eating. You can read more about it here