Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Diets Suck - Why You Should Be Worried If You Are On One

Diets suck and not just because they are hard to stick to but also because they aren't good for you and can have long term health effects...

I don't mean 'diet' in the sense of what kind of eating habits you have but rather the restrictive fad diets that say '1500 calories a day', 'no carbs', 'no fruit' etc. Why? Because it's not sustainable, amongst many other reasons, but let's start with that...

Your way of eating is a lifestyle - not a diet
A diet is not sustainable because you are depriving yourself of things. You automatically feel like you are missing out on something and for that reason you will want it even more than before - it's a natural response from your primitive brain, you can't help it.

The only eating habits that are long lasting and you can keep up are the ones that are lifestyle changes and not fad diets.

Every said to yourself something like 'I'm going X free this week' (X being sugar, carbs or fat etc.) then suddenly you are noticing the croissants at your morning coffee stop, eyeing the pasta on a menu while out to dinner or dreaming of toasted sandwiches (okay that's a little weird but you get the point)? Because when you tell yourself you can't have something, you are only going to want it more and therefore notice what you are missing out on. Otherwise you would be happy with your fruit salad with your coffee, getting the roast veggie salad while out to dinner and having your regularly scheduled dreams of being in Sephora with an endless gift card.

The key to this is EVERYTHING IN MODERATION. Listen to your body, it will tell you everything you need to know. Starving but it's only 11am? Take an early lunch. Craving carbs? Let yourself have a small serving of pasta. All I know is that restricting yourself often leads to binging later on. If you feel like you could have pasta whenever you want, you are only going to have it when you actually really want it rather than just because you feel you can't have it.

Calorie counting means nothing
Eating well is so much more important than the calories in your food! So you only had 1500 calories today - you go glen coco. But that really doesn't tell me anything about the quality of food you ate and if you nourished your body correctly.

Let's put this into perspective - you may have skipped breakfast and lunch then gone to McDonald's for your one meal of the day. But since you haven't eaten all day you figure you can go all out with an Angus burger, large chips and a McFlurry totaling 1537 calories - that's not even including a drink. So since calorie counting means nothing, let's look at the nutrition. Some protein out of the burger? High levels of fat in both the way the meat is cooked, the sauces and the deep fried chips. Sugary ice cream that spikes your blood sugar levels? See how calorie counting means nothing in terms of leading a healthy lifestyle?

On the other hand you could have eaten 2000 calories in quinoa, vegetables, tuna, greek yoghurt, fruit, chicken breast etc. Remember that your body metabolizes certain types of foods differently. Refined sugar is stores as fat while natural sugar is more easily burnt as energy. Proteins from nuts and seeds don't require the same enzymes from your body that is necessary to break down animal fat.

Sure, count your calories if you want to use it as a guide but just make sure you are focusing more on the eating healthy part and ensuring you get the right nutritional content. Your body can't run on sugar and fat forever, you will start to notice your energy levels rely on a sugar hit or you are constantly lethargic because you are lacking certain vitamins and minerals. Every action has a reaction and eating like crap will show in the way your body looks and how you feel.

Metabolic damage
Now here's something to be concerned about. If you restrict yourself for so long, forcing your body under extreme diet and exercise regimes...things break. Like for real, your HPT (thyroid), HPA (adrenal) and HPG (pituitary) give out on you and are damaged. Symptoms of this include digestive disorders, heartburn, immune dysfunction, bloating, development of food intolerances etc. If you hit rock bottom with metabolic damage it actually can cause depression, sensitivity to light, puffiness, lack of motivation and libido, exhaustion and slow thinking. Yeah, no thank you.

The worst symptom of all? Your metabolism slows down. Yep, that's right... it makes it even harder for you to maintain your weight and you start craving more food. Keeping your metabolism high makes balancing your weight so easy. Eat well, eat often and your body won't be holding onto sugars and fats thinking "when will I eat next? I don't know - better store this in case".

Point is - your body can only be pushed so far and you only have one for the rest of your life. It's so important to nourish your body with the right nutrition so that you can properly build muscle, have strong bones, healthy hair, hydrated skin etc.

This was really important for me to write about because it can be SO easy to get sucked into the latest dieting trend or fad diet. No one person is built the same, your body will have individual needs unique to you that you have to listen to. Don't put yourself into a box and don't restrict yourself just make healthy choices that feel right for you.