There’s the raw vegan diet, Whole30, paleo, Weight Watchers, ketogenic, alkaline, If It Fits Your Macros, the baby food diet, and literally thousands more. So which is the best to begin your 2018 with?
I think it’s interesting how many diets there are. You’d think that if a diet was so incredible and powerful, there’d be only one. But that’s not the case. There are thousands and this diet culture penetrates every aspect of daily life. The TV shows with silly “doctors,” the shelves of supermarkets, the magazines, and the conversations we have all make us believe we need to be on a diet. That’s why in 2014, the weight loss and diet industry made 64 billion dollars off of you and me. Not one thousand, not one million, but sixty-four billion dollars. People jump from diet to diet in hopes of weight loss, it is never one and done. That is where the money is and the healthy relationship with food is not.
That is why I will always promote following your personal hunger cues, energy levels, and cravings rather than following a diet. My official title will be “dietitian” in a year and a half, but I am anti-dieting. Having a healthy relationship with food will always be better being thinner. That being said, there is so much information out there on nutrition. It can be hard to discern what is right and what is wrong. Here are a few things to think about before diving into your new diet for 2018.
1. Celebrities are not nutrition know-it-alls
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are the only nutrition experts. When reading articles online, look for the RD/RDN credentials. RD/RDNs have a bachelor’s degree at the minimum, at least 1200 hours of supervised practice in various settings, and have passed the national board exam. You wouldn’t trust a carpenter to manage your finances. Right? Experts are experts for a reason. RD/RDNs promote science-based, sound nutrition.
2. Quick fix and health don’t mix
Could I follow this diet for the rest of my life? If the answer is no, then why even do it? A lot of diets are quick fixes that require eliminating an entire food group or a huge calorie deficit. There are also diets that require eating that company’s prepackaged meals for every meal. That just isn’t sustainable. Make healthful lifestyle changes, like going on a walk after dinner or incorporating more vegetables into your meals.
3. Rules, rules, and more rules
Diets tell you how to eat. Diets take away your power to choose for yourself and instead give you a book full of rules to follow. There is an emphasis on learning rules rather than learning nutrition. Diets tell you what foods to eat and when. Diets tell you how to prepare and measure out your food. There is no room for exploration or enjoyment. The human body has taste buds, hunger hormones, and stretch receptors to tell us when what tastes good, when we are hungry, and when we are full. Try trusting and listening to your body. After all, you know you. That “diet expert” doesn’t.
4. When food stresses you out
At breakfast, you are already thinking about how to craft your ketogenic lunch. Or you have a dinner party to go to, and rather than feeling excited, you feel nervous because the host might not have fat-free options. The moment food begins to consume your thoughts, your diet is now unhealthy. Diets don’t allow spontaneity. Therefore, you may be in a position where you have to choose between the diet and your friends and family. Life is much bigger than maintaining a calorie deficit. When a diet prevents you from enjoying food and drink with others consistently, it’s not okay. Food should never be a source of anxiety or shame.
So, before beginning your new 2018 diet, give it some thought. Is this diet sponsored by most RD/RDNs? Is this diet something I could follow for the rest of my life? Does this diet promote memorizing rules or learning nutrition? Will I feel anxious, stressed, or grumpy on this diet? Be honest with yourself and figure out why you even want to diet in the first place (here’s a past post about being skinny vs. healthy).
My guess is that not many weight loss programs will measure up to my tips for judging the healthfulness of a diet. Come January 1st, I think we should make it our resolution to not diet. Let 2018 be the year of nurturing your body, not manipulating your body.