3 Reasons to Not Start a Diet on January 1st...Or Ever
Enjoy this blog post on why to not diet in the new year by our newest dietitian at Nourishing Minds Nutrition, Kelsey Pukala.
It’s the holiday season, which can be such a fun and joyful time of year. But, it’s also a time of year when New Year’s Resolutions drenched in diet culture lurk right around the corner. Without fail, every January, I know to expect several commercials and ads all surrounding this idea of “getting back on track” and “losing the holiday weight” whatever that means.
This coming January, I want to challenge you to NOT start a diet or a cleanse or to eliminate any foods. I challenge you to make a New Year’s Resolution that focuses on self-care and body respect instead of trying to force yourself into a pattern of eating and living that isn’t sustainable. Here’s why:
1. Dieting Isn’t Sustainable
I know many of you are reading this and probably thinking, “duh… I know diets don’t work.” Which is great! But, in today’s culture, dieting has disguised itself as “healthy eating” and “clean eating” so well that we don’t even realize it’s a diet! If you’re following any type of plan that tells you what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat etc. that’s a diet! Anything that pulls you further away from your own hunger/fullness cues, body signals and even cravings is a diet.
This way of eating just isn’t sustainable. We know this from research and it’s also something I hear from clients. Why follow a food plan that’s stressful and possibly difficult, not proven to work in the long run and doesn’t allow for some flexibility? One of the great things about intuitive eating is its sustainability BECAUSE of its flexibility. It can change as your body changes and it puts you in charge of what you eat, which is how it should be!
2. Dieting can lead to restriction, binge eating and feelings of guilt and shame.
This binge-restrict cycle is, unfortunately, very common. We try to diet and/or restrict calories, which drives us to inevitably binge (which is a completely normal response to restriction) and then we just end up feeling guilty and possibly obsessed with food. Not fun.
Think about a pendulum with one end being bingeing and the other end restriction. The further you swing the pendulum to the restriction side, the further it will swing back to the bingeing side. It’s normal to eat too much at times and we just have to trust that our bodies will take care of us, even when that happens. Eventually, the longer intuitive eating is practiced, the easier it is to settle right in the middle of that pendulum.
3. When you say “yes” to dieting, you’re saying “no” to something else.
Whenever we say “yes” to anything, we are saying “no” to something else, whether that is conscious or unconscious. That’s not always a bad thing either! Obviously, we go through life making thousands of decisions. But if you choose to diet this January or eliminate a food or “cleanse” from all of the “bad” foods you ate during the holidays… I would ask what are you saying “no” to?
Spontaneously meeting friends for ice cream? Responding to your body’s hunger/fullness cues? Thinking about anything other than food or exercise? Finding satisfaction and enjoyment during meals?
Are there things you would like to be doing, but can’t because you’re following a specific meal plan or restricting calories or obsessing over what to eat?
Just some good questions to ask before starting a diet!
So, with all that said, I challenge you to ditch the diets in January, despite the things our culture may say. And if you’re having trouble thinking of a resolution that doesn’t have to do with micro-managing your body, I included some below! Keep in mind it’s a new YEARS resolution… not a new DAYS resolution and can take time and that is perfectly okay. Happy New Year!
Here are some wonderful ideas for a new kind of resolution this new year:
-I will buy clothes that fit my current body
-I will say goodbye to food guilt and shame
-I will not compare my body to strangers on Instagram
-I will avoid diet talk
-I will enjoy my food
-I will discover intuitive movement that I enjoy even if it never changes my body
-I will establish a self-care routine that works for me
-I will sleep at least 7-8 hours a night
-I will practice deep breathing when I am stressed and anxious
Share with us in the comments section your new years resolution that has nothing to do with diet or your weight!