Recently, I went off on a major Internet rant on my Facebook page talking about a particular diet I randomly found online. But first, a little bit of background….
I found this Infographic on Pintrest, a platform targeted primarily to women, under the category “healthy living”. I was hoping for some food porn and recipes but instead I got a diet plan entitled Do You Want To Lose 10lbs In One Week?
I can imagine millions of women salivating over this crap, not only because we already struggle with body image issues, but because we’re always preyed upon by the fitness and diet industry with quick fixes and false promises. Now, I have no idea who the author of this crappy diet is nor does it matter. It’s possible that the author really wants to help people, or has had some success with this diet in the past. However, I can’t possibly let this one slide because I see the horrible affects this type of ‘fast fix’ diet plan have on women’s self-esteem, body image, and feelings of self-worth. If you wonder why you can’t seem to lose weight, this is why.
If you’re curious about this infographic head over to my Facebook account for the highlights, or just Google the title of the article.
The Deprivation Diet Is Not A Diet
We can’t lose weight because deprivation diets keep us in a headlock. They conjure feelings of misery, starvation, restrictions, and bland, boring foods repeated day in and day out. Yet, not all diets are created equal. There’s a difference between a healthy diet and a deprivation diet. A healthy diet can educate us on things like portion sizes, how to eat for specific goals and our lifestyle, as well as ensure we’re getting in the necessary nutrients and calories necessary to keep our metabolism in check. Elimination diets like Whole 30 can even teach us how certain foods affect our bodies by removing inflammatory foods and then slowly reintroducing them after we’ve had some time to heal. Good diets give us our power back whereas deprivation diets rob us of it.[bctt tweet=”Good diets give us our power back, whereas deprivation diets rob us of it” username=”lovelifefit”]
The deprivation diet neither satisfies nor educates us. It throws our bodies, metabolism and even our energy systems into a roller coaster ride of anxiety, hunger, and anger. I don’t know about you, but that is not how I want to feel on a daily basis. Furthermore, deprivation diets are not realistic or sustainable. If success is measured by your ability to white knuckle your way through a diet with sheer willpower, determination and 100% compliance, how can we expect to manage things like birthday dinners, weddings, wine tasting with our girlfriends, and family dinner? You know….life stuff.
Even if you told me “Well Trish, I only need to lose a few pounds for my upcoming trip to Cabo so this is temporary,” I have to ask “Then what’s the point?”
Say you follow a deprivation diet for a week or two to look hot in a bikini. You arrive looking hot and skinny – just the way you envisioned- and immediately hit the open bar with your girlfriends. You’re on vacation! Time to kick back and enjoy yourself! But what do you think happens after just one or two glasses of that Pina Colada you’re throwing back? Or better yet, after your 4-day eating and drinking spree?
Well, duh you get bloated and you gain all the weight back almost instantly. You come home feeling heavier and more out of shape than ever, but promise yourself it’s time to “get back on the wagon”. And that’s where the cycle of yo-yo dieting comes in. An endless loop of quick weight loss and weight gain, followed by guilt, another promise to do better and an endless supply of failure to enslave you forever. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
How To Discern Between a Good and Bad Diet
Let’s not kid ourselves, the diet industry is out to keep us miserable so we continue to buy their crappy products. They don’t want to help us they want to enslave us.[bctt tweet=”The diet industry doesn’t want to help you, but enslave you” username=”lovelifefit”]
I know that sounds extreme but I’m talking specifically about the diet industry gurus and companies who falsify information, promise quick fixes and prey on your desire to feel better and more confident. Here’s how to discern between the truth and the lies:
Is the promise too good to be true? A false promise like “lose 10lbs in one week” or “tone up in two weeks” sounds lovely but it’s not real. Consider how long it takes us to gain weight. If we put on 10lbs in one week we’d notice it right away. But weight gain just kind of creeps up on us over time, like compound interest. If we continue with bad habits like eating processed foods, loading up on sodas and energy drinks, and not exercising consistently, the results will show over time. Likewise, fat loss happens over time with daily, consistent actions and healthy habits.
Is there a balance between protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables? The deprivation diet I called out on Facebook had dieters eating protein twice a day – some meat at lunch and two hard boiled eggs at dinner. I think somewhere in there they were allowed a yogurt or something but that’s hardly enough protein to sustain fat loss, a healthy metabolism, muscle growth or LIFE. Plus, there weren’t any carbohydrates listed in the diet, just some line about avoiding bread. Look, I’m not a bread eater myself but carbs are essential and come in other forms like sweet potato, squash, oats, quinoa and so on. Our body requires carbohydrates for energy and depending on your goals – performance or fat loss – you need a certain amount of it. A no carb rule is a good B.S. meter in general.
Can we back this up with science? I’m not asking you to go through a bunch of scientific research to prove a diet is safe, but please be an educated consumer and at least Google the crap out of some of these claims. For example, the deprivation diet called specifically for loading up on fruits at breakfast because morning is the best time of day for our body to break this down. This doesn’t make sense at all; our digestive system can’t discern between 8am and 8pm. It’s job is to break down the foods that enter your system and send it right over to whatever muscles or organs need it. That’s not B.S. that’s science. Google it! 😉
Is it realistic for your lifestyle? My biggest pet peeve among dieters is that they are willing to try something extreme and unrealistic for several weeks instead of simply trying something realistic and sustainable over the course of a lifetime. For example, doing a 7-day juice cleanse versus eating vegetables at every meal. WHY IS THIS SO HARD?! One one hand, you have a miserable detox liquid diet that you HATE with every ounce of your being and costs way too much money. On the other hand, you have a perfectly normal and sustainable way of packing more nutrition into your day by adding one cup of vegetables at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but people say that’s too hard. You know what’s too hard? Your thick head! This is seriously the dumbest thing dieters do and I just…I can’t even. I JUST CAN’T EVEN! Eat the damn veggies!
Okay, I’m sorry for that tangent there but all joking (and rage) aside, consider what your diet asks of you and if it is realistic. A deprivation diet that tells you to only drink fluids or avoid eating after 6pm isn’t sustainable. What if you work past 6pm? What if you workout in the evenings? How do you refuel and recover? Do you skip dinner because it’s after 6pm and you got stuck in a meeting or commute? Do you eat dinner while you commute from work? Do you only sip water at a client dinner because you’re not allowed to eat solids?
I get it. Diets require that we change some habits and sometimes, that change is hard even if temporary. However, once the change is made it must work with your lifestyle for the long haul. If you can’t sustain it past week one what makes you think you can sustain it forever? You can’t, and it’s not worth the trouble if it calls on endless amounts of effort and willpower to get through.
Healthy Eating Is Automatic
The goal of a diet should lead us to a better place than when we started. When we’re eating for a specific goal like performance, there is some level of deprivation and restriction required but it’s usually temporary. Bodybuilders will follow a strict diet for 12 weeks to prepare for the stage and a powerlifter will follow a higher calorie diet to power their training and performance for a meet. It’s temporary but it still allows some wiggle room and guilty pleasures here and there. A sustainable diet is one where healthy eating becomes effortless and automatic. I love Jill Coleman’s approach to this because she’s made moderation a lifestyle rather than some bullshit promise. She’s made it work for her and the woman looks incredible while still enjoying her wine and occasional treat.
Find a style of eating that works with your life but also becomes effortless to maintain. For me, adding vegetables to every meal or doing meal prep is automatic. I’ve practiced it for over 1o years but I’ve also improved my diet by trying new things and educating myself over the years. When I was a runner I loaded up on pasta and breads thinking they were healthy but once I experimented with Paleo, I realized I could get my carbohydrates from more nutritious, cleaner sources. In high school I drank tons of soda and ate lunch from the vending machine. One year I replaced all soda with water and lost so much weight that my friends’ mothers were asking me for diet advice! The point is, effortless eating is possible when we find an eating style that fits with our lives. From there we continue to evolve, experiment and improve our diet style.
Don’t let deprivation diets keep you stuck in an endless cycle of misery, weight loss and weight gain. There is a better way! If you struggle to stick to a plan or to lose weight, then start by reframing your outlook. Rather than “I need to lose 10lbs in one week” start with “I want to learn about portion sizes.” From there, you can start educating yourself on the subject, applying it to your life and make it automatic. This is how we can free ourselves from food obsession, food guilt and yo-yo dieting and truly change our bodies.