The word diet is derived from the Greek word 'diaita', which means 'way of life'. But sadly it's been so abused over the past 50 years, that it's now related to food fads for losing weight! A term that now leads us to believe that if we're on a diet, you can be your best you. Low fat, Cambridge, restricted calories, the cabbage diet. Fads we've all been led down a garden path with.
For those of you who read my previous post, you'll already know my feelings about 'diets'. The truth is, they don't work. Fact. And I can guarantee that there's many others out there who agree with my stance on this too.
So, before we delve into the ins and outs of why diets don't work, let's take a second to determine what is actually meant by 'diet'.
And this is where the problem lies. Because 'diets' come with built-in endpoints and target weights that, once achieved, people then use to justify abandoning the diet altogether. "Great! I've reached my target weight, I'm going to start eating normally again." And then boom! Before we know it, we've started to relax back into old habits, the weight's creeping back on and we're back to where we started...square one. Miserable, overweight and looking for a quick solution (diet) to help shift those pounds. Vicious circle.
What's more, it's proven that 95% of those who are on a diet regain the weight they lost (and more) within a year of giving it up.
And yes okay, there are some 'diets' out there that are prescribed for medical reasons (for example those in place to control diabetes) - but these are necessary diets and act as healthy motivation to stick to it - because let's face it, you have to. It's fundamentally a matter of life or death if you don't.
Why diets don't work
Perhaps one of the biggest factors is the psychology behind the word diet. That in itself is enough to put you off. Because the term 'diet' is associated with giving things up. It's associated with not being able to eat the things you enjoy. It's about restriction. The Diabetes Council reiterate this point by explaining that, "when people decide to go on a diet they automatically feel like they are depriving themselves and their bodies of foods they want." And because of this, eventually the diet fails. We scare ourselves into believing that we'll never again be able to have that little luxury or that we'll never be able to sustain and maintain it - we've essentially failed before we've even begun. We focus on what we're giving up rather than what we're gaining from it. We spend far too much time worrying about it before we've even started, and then probably don't even start it because we've talked ourselves out of doing it in fear of missing out on things. The fact of the matter is, we're already miserable before we even start the diet and so we convince ourselves we're going to be even more miserable because we can't have this, that or the other. And that to me is the crux of why diets don't work.
Next up then is unrealistic expectations. According to BBC Health, "research suggests that the reason so many of us relapse and fail on diets is because we have unrealistic expectations." We set ourselves goals and targets way out of our reach and expect to see immediate results. But again, this is what we've all been led to believe is the correct path of thinking. Psychology - see. BBC Health go on to explain that this, in part, is "the fault of the experts because the advice they give us is flawed." - we're told that we need to do this or be that. They're setting us up for failure before we've even started. In reality, we need to be setting goals for what's right for us as individuals. And we shouldn't be putting pressure on ourselves to achieve it in a certain amount of time. Because we end up loathing what we're doing and end up convincing ourselves that we're going to be miserable and fail and we end up right back to my first point. It's just a complete vicious circle of psychological fear and self-doubt.
Ian Marber, Expert Nutritionist for the Telegraph reported how XLS Medical Group conducted a study, which found that 34% of Brits alone say they've failed every single diet they've ever been on. I mean if you need much more evidence to support the fact that diets don't work - I'd say it's right there. Alarmingly though, those dieters apportion self-blame to their lack of weight loss success and add that feeling of being a failure to their issues and concerns about their weight.
The psychological impact of this is shocking. Because we've been led to believe that not achieving our targets in a certain time makes us a failure. No it doesn't. There are so many factors to take into consideration here - a) we've probably reached a weight loss plateau and our bodies don't want to lose anymore weight b) we're retaining water weight c) hormones - I could go on for the entire alphabet. The point I'm trying to make though is that the psychology of a diet is harmful and it's dangerous - not just to our well being but to our mental state as well. It makes us feel things about ourselves that are in no way true. And yet we've been led to believe that it's right and that we are a failure if we don't get to where we want to be. Psychologist Jane Warble reinforces this point in that "the terrible internal conflicts as a result of food restraint is a source of continual stress. All dieters score incredibly highly on measures of emotional agitation and are more likely to show impaired mental performance."
Still on the diet track, but slightly off-piste for this one is weight loss drinks. Many people on diets have been told that they should take meal replacement drinks in order to help them lose weight. Who made us believe it? You guessed it. The multi-million pound diet industry that over promises and under delivers. Using the power of psychology, the weight loss giants reach out to us in our most vulnerable state and promise that their products will deliver the results you want and fast. Not true. In fact, they categorically don't work because of all the artificial sweeteners they pump in to make them "taste good". It's these ingredients that then cause our insulin to spike, triggering our bodies to reaction to burn sugar (carbs) over fat. Resulting in limited weight loss, very frustrated dieters and a very rich industry! There are so many more reasons why these products don't work - if you're keen to find out more then be sure to read this post!
However, all is not lost. Because there is a natural weight loss drink, SlimShotz that's just been launched into the UK market - and better yet it's proven - yes proven, to help us lose weight. And it's all down to one magic ingredient - Glucomannan (or Gluco-K as we like to refer to it as). Sparked your interest now haven't I? Our latest post reveals more about this new hero product and the magic behind Gluco-K - check it out and see for yourself.
I'll end this section with this final point. Diets are a short term fix, unless we're talking about the original meaning 'way of life'. They're not designed to be sustainable. That's why they don't work. Why else would the likes of Slimming World and Weight Watchers still be going? they trick us into believing they'll take us on a journey of weight loss success. Which, granted is true for a short while, but once we've reached that goal and are left to it, chances are we're not going to keep it up and eventually we'll fall off the wagon (stats have proven this by the way so I'm not telling porkies!), regaining all those lost pounds and ending up where we started...back at Weight Watchers!
Being your best you
So, being your best you - what on earth does that even mean? Firstly, let me tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean punishing ourselves with a strict diet regime and setting unrealistic and unachievable targets - because as we've already alluded to, these don't work. And they certainly don't contribute towards you being your best you. True - they can make us feel good for a short period of time, but that's the key right there. Short period of time.
Being your best you is about taking care of what's on the inside as well as the outside. It's about feeling good within ourselves and our internal happiness that ultimately impacts how we feel on the outside. It means taking more than just our diet into consideration. It's about being aware of all contributing factors including our environment and lifestyle. It's about making changes for the better and for the long term. It's about setting realistic goals and being happy within ourselves because we can see the changes and they are sustainable. It's about adopting a lifestyle that works for you and with you. A lifestyle that brings good health, wellbeing, longevity and happiness. That ultimately allows you to be your best you. Because it's sustainable, it's a long term achievement and most importantly - it's enjoyable.
Perhaps one of the most successful lifestyles that we can adopt is that of our primal ancestors. There are a number of variations of there - Paleo, Keto and Primal. In essence, they're all based around the same principles and foundations of leading a life in which nature and evolution intended us to. It's about adopting a lifestyle that realigns the way we live and eat, with that which our bodies are designed.
The philosophy of the Primal lifestyle emphasises that it's not just our eating habits that we need to pay attention to, it's also our lifestyle and environment too. Concentrating on three distinctive areas of our life that we need to consider as opposed to just what we eat.
And this is what separates a lifestyle from a diet. Not only is it a long term success, it's also a great way to manage our weight whilst adopting a happier and healthier approach to living. And the psychological benefits of that far outweigh those associated with a diet any day of the week in my eyes. Sound of body, sound of mind equates to longevity, optimal health and overall happiness.
If you're keen to lose a bit of weight or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, why not read more about the primal movement and how it all began? You'll be wondering why you didn't start it sooner once you've finished...primal promise!