Are you thinking of starting another diet? Is the latest quick-loss book calling your name? Before you jump onto the next big thing, take a moment to review these quick, common-sense facts about dieting. Because while it’s good to want to improve your eating in order to attain a healthy weight, diets that promote short-cuts and claim to be easy have a miserable track record in the long run. And that doesn’t help anyone in the end.
1. Diets don’t work.
95% of people who lose weight on diets gain it back within 5 years. Why start something when the odds of failing are so overwhelming?
2. Diets can be dangerous.
Many diets can cause health problems, such as weakened bones, thinning hair and slowed heart rate. This is especially true of very low calorie diets or diets that are unbalanced, sometimes omitting entire food groups.
3. Diets can be expensive.
This is especially true if you have to buy special foods or supplements. Just consider how much you’ve already spent on diets over the years. What would you do with that money if you could have it back? (Don’t say “buy another diet book…”)
4. Going on and off diets makes it harder to stay at your healthiest weight.
As a protective mechanism against starvation, when you overly restrict calories, the body slows its metabolism. So as a consequence of frequent dieting, you can actually end up gaining weight more easily. Is that really what you want?
5. Diets can be boring.
Who wants to eat the same thing, day after day? That’s why people can only stay on diets for a limited time before indulging in something they truly enjoy. Then begins the “I cheated so I may as well blow it” phase, and we all know how well that works out…
6. Diets can make you lose self-control.
When you totally ban a favorite food from your life, you start to crave it. When you finally get a taste of it again, it’s hard to stop eating it, resulting in a binge for many people.
7. Diets rob you of energy.
You lose strength, coordination, and brainpower. You feel tired, irritable and cranky.
8. Diets make you think too much about food and weight.
Calculating calories, carbs, fat grams, points, weight numbers… there’s more for us to be thinking about than this. Because diets require so much attention on food, they actually lead us to unhealthy eating practices and eating disorders, and they rob us of some of the joy of living.
A balanced approach…
Note that we are talking about the act of “dieting” here. As a verb, “to diet” is to restrict oneself to small amounts of food and/or a specific list of foods in order to lose weight. It is when people start “to diet” that they run into a number of risks that can hinder them mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. With dieting, legalism along with black and white thinking emerge, in addition to possible health issues. It’s important to recognize, however, that sometimes, a medically-prescribed diet, such as a low sodium, renal or diabetes diet is necessary to treat specific health issues–which is not the same as “dieting.”
Eating healthy should be a way of life–not a diet to go on and off. Adopt changes in your eating that can be part of your lifestyle–not a set of restrictions. Aim for a weight that is healthy for your body type–not a certain number or an unrealistic look. Enjoy the freedom and contentment that accompany eating well for life.
A Scriptural Balance:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me but I will not be enslaved by anything.” 1 Cor. 6:12 (ESV)