More people in the United States are currently on a diet than ever before. However, the fact is that, for most of us, diets don’t work. Science shows that most people on a diet gain all their weight back within at most a few years of ending their diet.1 This can result in weight cycling. Weight cycling is when you lose and regain weight over and over. Scientific research has shown that weight cycling has been shown to be bad for our health.
One study found that people that experience weight cycling have a greater incidence of depressive symptoms.2 Other studies indicate that weight cycling actually is bad for our heart health.3 With heart disease the leading cause of death for women, we need to be protective of our cardiovascular health.4 Ditching the diet rules and living in a larger body at a higher weight is actually better for your body than weight cycling!
You may ask yourself, why haven’t I heard this before? Well, the truth is that some medical providers haven’t caught up yet. They are still practicing in the old ways where “thin is best.”
And you won’t hear this from the diet industry, either. Billions of dollars each year are made off of people’s desire for weight loss. If the public knew that weight cycling did more harm than living in a larger body, the diet industry would be out of money! And it is all due to our society’s obsession with weight. Not sure how to kick your weight obsession? Check out my post about weight obsession here.
Ultimately, moving towards embracing health while ditching the diet rules is the best thing you can do for your overall health. You can make healthy lifestyle changes that make a difference and increase your quality of life without being tied to restrictive diet rules.
Healthy eating tips for people ready to ditch the diet rules
Today, there are hundreds of different diets. Each one with rules that mean avoiding some things and focusing on others, whether that means only eating “clean”, “plant-based”, or any other arbitrary thing. By the way, clean eating has become really popular. It actually means nothing. It is a marketing term that has no definition or regulation. If you see a product labeled as “clean”, think of it the same as you would any other marketing terms. It doesn’t mean the food is better for you. It just means they’ve found a lucrative way to get your money.
So if most of what we are basing our food decisions on is simply marketing, what are healthy eating tips that I can start using today?
4 healthy eating tips to start using today.
1. Eat fruits and vegetables.
The general recommendation is 3 to 5 servings per day. Not sure how much a serving is? Make a fist with your hand. That is the size of one serving (approx. 1 cup). If right now, you have maybe one serving per day. Try to increase your fruits and vegetables to 2 servings per day. You don’t need to increase it up to 3 to 5 today. Increase your intake slowly. This makes it an easier goal to achieve. Plus, you will be less likely to have gas or bloating from increasing your fiber too fast.
2. Have protein with meals and snacks.
Protein is an important part of your diet. It helps you feel satisfied with meals and gives your body the building material it needs to make muscles and proteins that your body needs. Foods that include protein are meats, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, tofu, and nuts. Not sure how much protein is a good place to start? Hold your hand out flat, palm open. The area of your palm is about the size of a 3 oz serving of meat.
3. Don’t forget the carbs.
Carbohydrates are starchy foods that your body uses for fuel. Examples are bread, rice, pasta, beans, and oats. Carbs have gotten a really bad wrap. Carbs can be good for your body. In fact, your body wants to use carbohydrates to make the sugar that is fuel for your muscles and brain. And, let us not forget that carbs are delicious. Having carbs at each meal gives you the energy to keep going.
4. Don’t let yourself get hangry!
Waiting too long to eat can make you feel crappy. You may feel tired, irritable, and lack focus. If you get hungry, eat something. Those restrictive diets that you’ve been on before tell you that you need to be hungry to show you have willpower. But that is 100% made up. In fact, if you let yourself get too hungry, you may find that you overeat at later meals. This can also cause you to feel crappy. You might feel overly full, nauseated, and uncomfortable. If you find that you are often busy and don’t have time to eat, carry snacks with you. I love having squeezable applesauce and protein granola bars with me for these situations.
5. Practice mindfulness.
You may have heard of mindfulness but do you know how to practice mindfulness while eating? Being mindful means being focused and present in whatever we are doing. During your meals, put down your phone, get off your computer, and turn off the TV. Focus on your food by observing how it looks, smells, tastes. Pay attention to how it feels to chew. Take a few moments to think about the work that went in to preparing your meal and how great it is to have food to eat. When we eat mindfully, we enjoy our food more. Enjoyment in food is one of life’s pleasures and practicing mindfulness can help you achieve it.
Ditch the diet rules and learn how to reclaim your life.
You’ve been dieting for so long. It can be hard to see a way out of restrictive dieting and the cycle of losing and regaining weight. Living a healthy life means dropping the diets and focusing on your overall health. This blog is full of tips for how to break away from the weight loss mindset and start ditching the diet rules. Check out my post on reclaiming your wellness journey here. Are you ready to move beyond just reading and start implementing?
I know you can do it. I am here to help and support you on your weight neutral wellness journey.
- Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of lost weight and long-term management of obesity. Medical Clinics of North America. 2018;102(1):183-197. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2017.08.012.
- Quinn DM, Puhl RM, Reinka MA. Trying again (and again): Weight Cycling and depressive symptoms in U.S. adults. PLOS ONE. 2020;15(9). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0239004.
- Women and heart disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm. Published January 31, 2020. Accessed October 18, 2021.