Have your cake and eat it too…
Put your hand up if you’ve ever gone on a diet! Did you hate every second of it? Well, as Dietitians, we are the leaders of eating trends and we say diets are out of style.
What is a diet anyway?
First of all, the word diet was never intended to mean eating less. Diet is just the word used to describe the types of foods that a person eats regularly. Each person’s diet is going to be different, dependant on culture and favourite or familiar foods. Doesn’t sound so scary, does it? So, why does the word diet scream dread to so many people. Probably because our society has associated diets with eating less or ‘special foods’ to achieve a certain body type. Diets have grown to be a whopping $71 billion dollar industry. You’d think that means Dietitians are jet setting around the world in private jets. Unfortunately, despite having the word ‘diet’ in Dietitian, Dietitians usually stand against the dieting industry.
Why don’t DIETitians like diets? (How long do you have?)
Firstly, diets don’t work! Sure, most people will see initial weight loss as they are limiting their food intake. The issue is that it is not sustainable. The second eating goes back to normal the weight gain follows. After being on a very strict diet, it is quite normal for people to begin binging. What we end up seeing is a binge/restrict cycle. Secondly, when you start a strict diet, your body may go into starvation mode. Your body will quite literally begin shutting down when it senses there isn’t enough food. It slows down metabolism and holds on to your fat stores. This makes losing weight even harder. Thirdly, it has a huge impact on your mental health. When you’re not eating enough, you may become more moody, irritable and anxious. A healthy mind is such an important part to a healthy body. Dietitians everywhere are in full support of ditching the diets. So much so, that there is even a day dedicated to no dieting.
International No Diet Day #nodietday
International No Diet Day is technically on the 6th of May. While this is the specific day we acknowledge it, the values the day celebrates should continue on every day of the year. The day is a stand against fad diets and achieving the perfect body.
On international diet day everyone is encouraged to realise that if you have a body, that you have a perfect body. We need to raise awareness that a healthy body does not need to be a particular size or shape and that health can be achieved at every size. It is about building a better relationship with food. Food is for nourishment, but it is also for enjoyment and socialisation. No foods should be labelled ‘bad’ or should be forbidden or scared of.
What are some tips to build healthy habits?
Ditch any food rules or stigmas of certain foods (no foods are ‘good’ or ‘bad’)
Eat regularly, never skip a meal despite what you may be eating later
Don’t count calories, carbs or macros
Eat mindfully – focus on what you are eating, avoiding distractions and enjoy your meal
Listen to your body - eat when you are hungry and when you are full stop
Enjoy mealtimes by eating with friends and family
Eat foods that you enjoy and try different foods
Eat a wide variety from the 5 core food groups every day – don’t cut out certain foods in the absence of a medical condition where this is necessary. The 5 core food groups are: Grains, Fruit, Vegetables, Dairy (and alternatives) and Meat (and Alternatives).
Fad diets are one size fits all, but we are not one size fits all.
If you are struggling or would like guidance, reach out to an Accredited Practising Dietitian (like us) who can help you build healthy habits individualised to you, because in the famous words of Oscar Wilde ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’.
By Simone Cammarere, Accredited Practising Dietitian for OSCAR Care Group