Why Diets Don't Work

It’s January 5th and nearly a week into your diet. It’s 3 PM and you’ve been craving a chocolate chip cookie since 10 AM. Your portions are small so you eat lunch but it doesn’t satiate you. So here you are at work, in the afternoon slump still dreaming of that damn cookie. After work you head home and binge on everything in your pantry; salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy- doesn’t matter, you’re just STARVED and cramming all the snacks into your mouth! After your binge on the food (which you weren’t supposed to be eating because you’re on a diet) that makes you feel exhausted and bloated, you begin to feel the embarrassment and shame of cheating on your diet. I’ll “start fresh” tomorrow turns into next month, which turns into next year. And even though dieting never works for us, we keep going back to it when we want to start fresh, lose weight, or feel better.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret… dieting doesn’t work. For anyone. Know why? Because we’re all human. No matter how skinny or overweight or fit or out of shape we are, we all have cravings. So instead of attempting the impossible task of trying to quiet those taste-buds, let’s acknowledge our cravings and listen to what our body is telling us. Instead of being mindful of what we eat for just one month out of the year and overindulging for the other 11 months, we need to commit to a healthy, long-term relationship with food that nourishes our bodies. Food’s purpose, as defined by dictionary.com, is to be “a nutritious substance that people eat or drink… in order to maintain life and growth”. If we begin to question whether what’s on our plates is 1. not only maintaining life but also promoting growth or 2. is  inhibiting our life and stunting our growth, we begin to see food differently. We make the choice to promote life & growth or inhibit it three times every single day. Now that I’ve shared why diets don’t work, here are five ways to cultivate a healthy relationship with food!

Rethink Your Portions

Forget food industry-endorsed USDA dietary guidelines and remember a simple ratio when preparing meals. To provide essential vitamins & minerals, your plate should be roughly:

° 50% vegetables

° 25% protein — organic grass-fed/pasture-raised meat and wild-caught fish & seafood for omnivores/ beans, lentils, & organic tofu for vegetarians & vegans

° 25% carbohydrates — from whole grains, oats, & brown rice

I also add like to add in some healthy fats, too, from sources like nut butter & avocados.

Stop Attaching Emotions to Food

Eating is possibly the most sensorial activity. Not only are all of our five senses engaged, but our surroundings and our company create the inherent experiences with which we associate food. The fact that we can do this is incredible. When I fondly recall my time spent studying abroad, many of my best memories involve food, like eating my weight in gelato at a GELATO FESTIVAL 😱 in Florence, Italy or making dumplings with Chinese university students in Shanghai. These were once in a lifetime experiences and we should all be able to enjoy life’s indulgences, especially when experiencing new cultures or on vacation. BUT we must say goodbye to more regular emotional eating habits. If you’re stressed, try meditation or a breath-work exercise instead of reaching for that bag of chips. If you normally grab a chocolate bar for comfort, make a warm cup of tea and take a relaxing bath instead. Using food as a coping mechanism is the easiest way to ruin your relationship with it and stunt your health journey.

Don’t Tempt Yourself

Much like that advice about surrounding yourself with people who lift you higher, you want to surround yourself with food that promotes good health. Keeping things that tempt you in close proximity is the biggest disservice you can do yourself during your health journey. After extended periods of time without foods I thought I could never live without (I once had a shirt that said, “Fries Before Guys” 🙈😂), I find that I no longer crave those foods, at least to the degree that I used to. But man, when I go home for the holidays and my parents’ pantry is stocked with Goldfish, Lucky Charms, and Famous Amos cookies, my carrots & hummus don’t look so appetizing anymore. Clean out your pantry, donate or trash what doesn’t support your health and invest a little more money in groceries that week to buy healthy snacking staples such as nuts, seeds, nut butters, protein bars (watch out for added sugars- I buy LÄRABAR & GoMacro Bars when traveling), hummus/salsa/pesto & veggies to eat between meals.

Be Prepared

Not gonna lie, I started singing the song from The Lion King after I typed that– Haha! 🤓 But in all seriousness, the #1 key to a healthy diet is preparation. If you don’t leave the house with a bag full of snacks and all the meals you’ll need for the day in tow, you will fail. Because when it comes down to being hungry or being healthy, we go into survival mode and “just eat something” to prevent starvation. We’ve all been there before. While being prepared is important, it’s not easy. It took a long time for me to become accustomed to preparing most of my meals from scratch. Even now I’ll have the occasional evening where I’ll spend a few hours in the kitchen between preparing, cooking and cleaning, which leaves very little time for my blog after working my day-job. There are lots of different ways you can be better prepared to promote your health on a daily basis. I don’t believe what I do to be the most practical approach by any means, but there are parts of it that are working well for me. For example, I make meal plans by the week and try to avoid grocery shopping more than once a week. I choose between 4 & 6 recipes I want to make for the upcoming week, make my shopping list, and go grocery shopping. Since cooking every night is time-consuming as it is, running to the store to pick up random ingredients leaves one less thing for me to have to do before I can start preparing dinner. Many people enjoy meal-prepping, where they spend a good chunk of the weekend cooking and preparing all the meals they need for the week. Lee from America is the meal-prepping queen and even though she eats the same ingredients throughout the week, she never eats the same meal. She’ll make bowls, tacos, salads, toasts, & smoothies all from the same 5-6 core ingredients. This approach isn’t for me because when I’m hungry, I don’t always feel inventive enough to switch up my meals and I don’t want to eat the same thing for four days in a row. But everyone is different. Another option would be to cook each evening, but prep what you can over the weekend, such as cooking grains & rice and/or chopping vegetables ahead of time to keep in the fridge until ready to cook. Once you accept that eating healthfully isn’t going to be as simple as going through the drive-thru, you just have to experiment to see which approach is best for you and which one uses your time the most efficiently.

Listen to Your Body

The concept of dieting has made us so disconnected from our bodies. We ignore their hunger cues and deprive them of foods that we enjoy. That’s why dieting isn’t sustainable and why it doesn’t work. We should always be listening to what our bodies have to say, whether that’s making a smoothie after dinner if you don’t feel full or removing foods from your diet that you don’t feel great after eating *FYI- that’s not always just junk food! Food sensitivities are a real thing, even with whole, healthy foods! I struggle with certain beans that make me feel bloated and gassy after eating them and I know people that can’t eat bananas because they make them feel tired and groggy. Although I haven’t done one, a lot of people swear by cleanses such as the Clean Program, in which you eliminate many common allergens from your diet for about a month, and then slowly re-introduce them one at a time when you’ve finished the cleanse to monitor how your body reacts. My biggest argument against dieting is that it usually involves going cold turkey on dessert, which is never ok! While sugar and dairy are present in most of our favorite desserts, it’s not hard to find or even make healthier alternatives to have on hand when your sweet tooth makes its appearance. Some of my go-to’s are Hu’s Chocolate Bars (my favorite flavors are the nut-butter filled ones), Cocomel’s Vegan Caramels, Eating Evolved Coconut Butter Cups,  Chia Pudding (super simple to prepare, filled with plant protein, and the flavor combinations are endless), Fooduzzi’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Lee From America’s Coconut Fat Balls topped with nut or coconut butter, and sometimes after dinner a cup of tea or a golden milk latte will satisfy my sweet tooth. (I’ve been using this golden milk blend from Golde recently). Dessert should always be allowed if you wish to indulge.

That’s all, folks! I don’t mean to discourage the progress of your New Year’s Resolutions but if health is what we’re truly aiming for, we have to stop dieting and start feeding our bodies with whole, nutritious foods on a more permanent basis.


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Why Diets Don't Work
Why Diets Don't Work
Why Diets Don't Work
Why Diets Don't Work
Why Diets Don't Work
Why Diets Don't Work + Five Ways to Build a Healthy Relationship with Food
Why Diets Don't Work

2018-01-17T04:12:32+00:00 January 5th, 2018|Health & Wellness, Plant-Based Nutrition|0 Comments

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