Kelly Neilson, MDA RD LD
8 Reasons You Need to Stop Dieting Right Now
Dieting is alluring and it’s understandable that many want to chase after thinness given how consumed our society is with the “ideal body.”
Maybe you’ve tried different diets and with each one you’ve thought to yourself, this time it’ll be different!
Most people have learned the hard way that fad diets don’t work, so “healthy lifestyles” such as Keto, Whole 30, or sneaky behaviors like limiting carbohydrates, replacing breakfast with coffee, or becoming vegan have been introduced as the “solution.”
The hard truth is that if intentional weight loss is the goal, no matter how much your way of eating is in the name of “health,” dieting behaviors are depriving you or limiting you in one way or another.
In hopes of saving you from years of chronic dieting, risky eating disorders, and harmful side effects, here are 8 reasons you need to stop dieting right now!
Why You Need to Stop Dieting
1. Your Body Will Fight for Its Set Point and Biology Will Win
Your body has it’s very own predetermined set point weight and it will do ANYTHING to keep you within its comfortable, preferred range.
Within five years of weight loss, about 95% of dieters gain all of their weight back. In fact, two-thirds of dieters end up regaining even more weight, likely putting them above their original set point weight.
The success rate for diets proves that your body doesn’t care about beauty standards, but it does care about survival. Your body will win every time.
2. A Slowed Metabolism and an Increase in Chaotic Eating
Your body responds to the threat of dieting, weight loss, and a decrease in calories by entering starvation mode, which triggers:
A slowed metabolism
Fixation with food
Bingeing and overeating
Restriction inevitably makes you vulnerable to chaotic eating and a loss of control around food, ultimately leading to guilt and feelings of failure. Not fun. However, as your body’s protective strategy, these are a normal response to get you to EAT.
3. A Waste of Your Time, Money, and Energy
Most dieters are unaware of how much of their life is dedicated to dieting.
Mentally adding up calories
Debating on food choices to make and whether or not to eat certain foods
Constantly logging calories into an app on your phone
Researching nutritional information
Thinking about your next meal
Worrying about a previous meals affect on your weight
Meticulously preparing your food
White knuckling through the day trying to avoid “bad” foods and stay “good”
Spending unnecessary money on pricey ingredients
Too much time at the grocery store reading food labels
Dieting takes away from your life, don’t let it!
4. Food Anxiety and Social Withdrawal
Dieting introduces the concept of “good” and “bad” foods, which then creates a fear around any food that isn’t “approved” by your diet.
The anxiety stems from worrying about the nutritional content, or that a food will cause weight gain.
With food anxiety you’re heavily concerned about the amount of butter your spouse used while cooking your dinner, rather than enjoying the meal together. You may even make excuses to avoid lunch with your coworkers because the pizza place they chose doesn’t feel safe to eat at.
Dieting makes you rigid and inflexible and you end up missing out on the many joys in life just to “stay in control.”
5. Dieting Is the Opposite of Health
Despite popular and medical belief, dieting creates health problems and there’s no safe or sustainable way to lose weight. There just isn’t.
People whose weight repeatedly goes up and down (weight cycling or yo-yo dieting) have an increased risk for premature death and heart disease, regardless of their weight.
Fat doesn’t cause premature death and heart disease, DIETING does.
Weight cycling increases inflammation, hypertension, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and overall poorer cardiovascular outcomes. Dieting increases chronic psychological stress and cortisol production as well.
When you diet, you also eliminate foods, which eliminate valuable nutrients that your body needs. No wonder you’re tired, cranky, hungry, and bloated.
A dieting body is a starving body. It doesn’t matter if the person dieting is in a large body or a small body, dieting and the pursuit of weight loss is unhealthy.
6. Disconnection from Your True Body Cues
Diets force you to ignore your hunger and fullness cues by telling you what food to eat, how much food to eat per day, and even specific meal times.
Ignoring your hunger and undereating to follow your diet or bingeing because you’ve “blown your diet” both interrupt your innate ability to feed yourself the way you were born to.
The hormones that communicate to your brain whether you’re hungry or full, become dysregulated when you override your bodily cues.
Eventually your body stops sending signals, which creates self-doubt with food and drives further dependence on diets to dictate your choices.
7. Risk Factor for Eating Disorders
Due to the nature of dieting being restrictive and controlling, dieting is a known precursor to eating disorders.
According to NEDA, those who diet moderately are five times more likely to develop an eating disorder and those who exhibit extreme restriction are eighteen times more likely to develop an eating disorder.
Malnutrition, starvation, excessive exercise, strict food rules, negative body image, and the element of shame associated with dieting behaviors all create the perfect formula for an eating disorder.
8. Lowers Your Self-Esteem and Confidence
Dieting keeps you trapped, and promises that if you just follow the diet, then you’ll lose weight and be happy. Then you’ll love yourself, or wear that swimsuit, or start dating...etc.
Dieting doesn’t magically cure or fix your problems. You might temporarily lose weight and feel short term relief, but your root issues will still exist.
Whenever your diet does fail, you’re left blaming your lack of willpower, feeling like you’ll never be “good enough.”
Eventually, depression creeps in, along with more body shame and body dissatisfaction, ultimately reinforcing the belief that your worth lies in your weight alone. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Stop Dieting and Start Living - Intuitive Eating Is Where It’s At!
Intentional weight loss comes with a whole host of consequences - physically and mentally. Who wants that?!
Ditch diet culture, stop dieting, and come to the world of fluidity and freedom!
Healing your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors around food will put you in a WAY healthier place than where you thought you would be in a smaller body.
This can sometimes be hard to do on your own and you may need an intuitive eating dietitian to teach you how and where to start!
Do you need help breaking free from dieting? Contact me!