What are the disadvantages of dieting and why should you ditch dieting for good? Keep reading to learn more.
There’s always a new diet, detox, or food trend that everyone seems to be trying. But is it always a good idea to join in? Whether rooted in nutrition or geared towards quick weight loss, these trends always involve two things – restrictions, and rules.
As soon as restrictions and rules come into play, a slew of disadvantages come along with them. Such as feeling out of control around food and experiencing heightened food guilt or stress, just to name a couple. In the end, dieting is the root cause of it all. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s finally time to stop dieting for good, this article is for you. Understanding the disadvantages and consequences of dieting can help you to say no to the next detox or trend that comes your way.
What Do We Mean When We Say Dieting?
It’s important to note what exactly we mean when we say dieting. What we are not referring to here is a medically recommended diet. Such as a low sodium diet for hypertension, a low FODMAP diet for IBS, or a plant-focussed diet for high cholesterol.
What we are referring to are strict, extreme diets that tell you to avoid, remove, or restrict anything from your diet outside of the context of a medical recommendation. They often do so while promising extreme, life-changing effects as a result. Such as fast weight loss or extreme boosts in energy. Additionally, they’ll often have a time stamp associated with them. You only have to follow their recommendations or protocol for 10 days, 30 days, or 3 months. Afterward, you’re promised incredible results with minimal commitment.
If you find yourself continually following these types of diets, keep reading to learn about the disadvantages of diets before you decide to get started.
6 Disadvantages of Dieting
The following six outcomes are what we see most often as registered dietitians in the nutrition coaching realm. Individuals come to us having dieted for years and are frequently experiencing all six of these symptoms listed below.
Causes an “All-in” and “All-out” relationship with Food
Another way of saying “all-in” and “all-out”, is “on the bandwagon” and, “off the bandwagon”. Diets function in a cyclical way. You’re either on a diet or off of one. Unfortunately, they don’t prepare you for what normal life looks like after the diet is over. As a result, you go right back to your prior habits (i.e. “all-out”). Until undoubtedly, you decide you’d like to make a change and try another diet. Cue the pendulum swing from one end of the spectrum to the other.
This creates an imbalance with food and is arguably the biggest disadvantage of dieting. It makes it impossible to do both, to enjoy food and nourish yourself with food. It makes you feel like you’re either “being good”, or “being bad”, with no in-between.
Leads to Extreme Cravings
What happens when you really want your favorite ice cream that’s in the freezer, but you tell yourself you can’t have any? You want it even more. And not only that, you crave it. It almost seems to take over your thoughts and all of a sudden becomes the most important thing on your mind, right?
This brings us to the second disadvantage of dieting, extreme cravings. When you inherently want something or enjoy something, it isn’t beneficial to abruptly restrict or remove it from your life. When you do so, your mindset immediately shifts to lack. You can’t help but think about what you’re missing out on, or how good it would feel to have what you no longer can have. Over time, this manifests as a craving.
That ice cream in the freezer sounds so incredible, so you absolutely must have it. As a result, you physically have to have a mental argument with yourself to prevent yourself from, “giving in”, or “losing willpower”. If this sounds familiar, you’ve certainly experienced this disadvantage of dieting before.
Results in a Loss of Control Around Food
After those cravings kick in, the loss of control comes next.
You’re on a diet and you’re out with friends on a Friday night. You know you’re, “not supposed” to have pizza, yet, there’s some pizza at the party. Next thing you know, you’ve had three slices. At the end of the night, you’re home and thinking to yourself, “What’s wrong with me? I have absolutely no control when I’m around pizza.”. Is it true that you have no control? Absolutely not. It’s simply the diet causing this sensation.
Another disadvantage of dieting is that it not only causes a lack mindset, it also causes a scarcity mindset. Because dieting has told you time and time again that pizza is, “bad”, “not allowed”, and, “off-limits”, whenever you have access to it, it seems like it’s your only opportunity. It’s the one chance you have to eat pizza and, “get away with it”.
So, in turn, you eat more than you really want, eat past your satiety cues, and appear to lose control. The following day, you feel guilty, stressed, and overwhelmed, so you tell yourself you’re, “getting back into it”, or “doing better” today. It brings you right back to that cycle we started with.
Only Allows for Short-term Success
So what’s the draw? If we know diets cause a loss of control around food, give us extreme cravings and make us swing back and forth between extreme habits, why are people still following them?
Short-term, quick results. Diets temporarily work because of how extreme they are. As long as you follow their rules, you’ll see some results. And what happens when you do? You’re hooked. You have proof that it works, right? But very soon after, you find yourself at the “all-out” and of the spectrum, yearning to get back to the “all-in” end in order to get those results back. And the cycle continues.
This disadvantage of dieting is that the success you achieve is never maintainable or sustainable. It’s short-lived and somewhat addicting. It leaves you wanting more so you’ll always come back for more and try again.
Diminishes Natural Body Cues
When we’re constantly following someone else’s rules, it gets pretty difficult to discern what our own body truly wants or needs. Our bodies are built to communicate with us, to tell us what we like or dislike, and tell us when we’re hungry or when we’re full. But diets tell us otherwise. They tell us we’re supposed to eat a certain number of meals per day that contain a specific number of calories that can only be eaten at certain times. Cue the confusion!
New clients almost never know what true hunger or satiety feels like. They’re almost always struggling to simply understand what they enjoy versus what they believe they, “should” be eating. This is another example of a disadvantage to dieting. When we have a balanced, sustainable relationship with food, we work with the body and its cues, not against it. Diets, on the other hand, will tell you to fight those cues and ignore them.
Makes Food Difficult and Time Consuming
When you’re on a diet, or simply used to being on a diet often, food starts to be complicated. It takes up so much of your time and your thoughts. You’re constantly trying to recall the rules, remember what you ate that day or how much you had last night. You might even try and write it all down to make it easier on yourself.
Food becomes a controlling part of your life. It starts to dictate your actions and maybe even your social choices. This is what the “all-in” of the spectrum looks like.
Food is meant to be enjoyed, and it’s meant to be a source of nourishment. It’s not meant to be a daunting, overwhelming part of your life. If you’ve experienced this disadvantage of dieting before, you know it’s a viable reason to never go back.
When you have a balanced, sustainable relationship with food that does not include dieting, you don’t have to experience any of these disadvantages. You’re able to eat food because you want to eat it, while also feeling in control of your choices and your actions. You’re able to experience social situations with ease. You even feel confident listening to your body’s cues and enjoying food for the sake of enjoying it!
If you’re looking for a sign to stop dieting and start building lasting habits, this is most certainly it.
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