To diet or not to diet?

As a dietitian, one of the most common questions I receive is “What do you think of (fill in the blank) diet?”  The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with new and emerging ideas appearing regularly, and are defined by photoshopped images in magazines portraying a perfectionistic and unrealistic view.  

What’s wrong with diets?

Most diets reduce or eliminate a main macronutrient (ie. low carb or low fat) or focus on a primary food item with a claim to promote a specific goal.  The problem with dieting is that they have an end date which sets individuals up for failure and for the never-ending yo-yo dieting cycle. When people diet, they rely on using will-power to avoid their favourite foods, thus creating an unhealthy relationship with food.

In addition, the goal of processed foods is to make people want more of it. When people feel deprived, they are more likely to binge and eventually regain more than the weight they lost. The majority of diets fail to produce permanent weight loss and the adverse effects can include nutrient deficiencies, and even eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia in severe cases.

On May 6th, I would like to invite you to join me in celebrating International No Diet Day by rejecting the diet mentality and honouring health instead.  It is a day to raise awareness of the damaging short and long term effects of unhealthy fad diets while celebrating the diversity of all body sizes and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The New Trend

Instead of going on a diet this year, go on a non-diet! The non-diet trend is an intuitive and mindful-based eating approach that supports self-esteem, body acceptance and diversity. The focus is on recognizing your body’s unique hunger and satiety cues and following through by eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full and occasionally eating as much as you want.

It’s time to make peace with food and our body by learning to enjoy food again- from chips to vegetables. Instead of worrying about food’s effect on body image, let’s focus on food’s role in providing the nutrients the body needs for physical and emotional health. Instead of exercising to reach a goal weight, let’s focus on getting out, being active and finding hobbies you love to keep your body healthy.

Registered dietitians are the experts in food and nutrition, and educate people on how to effectively and responsibly eat for their own bodies. A healthy approach focuses on small adjustments that lead to lifestyle changes that eventually become habits that are part of our daily lives. You don’t need to feel deprived of the foods you love to lose weight and be healthy.  Let’s start with avoiding strict food rules and focusing on a balanced, non-restrictive, sustainable eating plan that you can stick to for the long run.

To celebrate International No Diet Day, honour your body, celebrate diversity and join the conversation by using the hashtag #NoDietDay. To learn more about the non-diet approach to weight management, contact ChristineRezkRD@gmail.com.

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