Ever wonder why the words “trend” or “fad” are always glued to “DIET”? Because trends and fads are for a period and not long-term solutions for our health and well-being. The origin of each fad is a former trend. One begets another. Atkins is transformed and re-enters the industry as Keto. Low-cal diet makes a comeback as IF. What do they all promise? Dependency. Any other results are short term. Dependency becomes permanent. This pulls us into a vicious cycle of being “on” and “off” a diet.
I feel, the words “diet” and “dieting” are amongst the most mis-understood terms. Eating is the most basic act. It comes by instinct. A new born child does not have to be taught how to feed. But as we grow we complicate it. Diet or what you eat needs to be simple and something that we can follow lifelong. It depends on various factors like your activity levels, lifestyle, routine, region, culture, likes, dislikes etc. Diet is a representation of what you are willing to eat your entire life. Fads are like a fling. Diet needs commitment. Let’s learn to differentiate and identify each and make the right choices towards health, happiness and harmony!
Fads focus on short term results
The catch here is dual. 1. Short term. 2. Results. Each time you make a food decision to follow a particular trend, ask yourself if you will be able to do it lifelong. Or at least for the next 10 years. If the answer is not a sure yes, you need to rethink. Fad diets may offer a “quick fix” but they do not promote healthy eating and are difficult to follow long term. The quick “results” is not worth the trouble it will bring.
Quick results in most cases is proxy for “quick weight loss”. When you follow a healthy sustainable diet, weight loss becomes incidental. Be committed to eating well and exercising. Weight loss or rather fat loss will be the by product. Whereas, quick weight loss leads to slow deterioration in the body, sometimes irreversible. Once you get off the diet (which you will) all the fat creeps right back, sometimes double. This is what, in turn, causes systemic harm to the body and increases risk to hormonal imbalance, low BMD (bone mineral density), high cholesterol levels, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc.
Fads talk through nutrients
Fad diets are like songs from Bollywood today. No new lyrics and no new rhythm. They stay on your playlist max for a week. The narrative needs to change. We have got to shift the focus from targeting and blaming specific nutrients for weight loss. Nutrients do not make you thin (or fat). You get thin only when you eat real food. Food advise in terms of nutrients leaves us confused about what to really do. Nutrients are not visible. Food is.
All food is important. All foods have nutrients. Each nutrient has its own role(s) to play in the body. Carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals – our body needs them all. Depriving ourselves of even one of them will create an imbalance in our system.
For a sustainable diet and a healthy life ahead, we need to consider the bigger picture. Work at improving your metabolic parameters. Check if the diet you are following helps you:
- Stay energetic through the day
- Sleep well and wake up fresh
- Eat according to your hunger and feel lighter
- Reduce acidity, bloating, constipation, indigestion
- Keep your skin glowing and hair thick
If you are seeing improvement in the above parameters you are on the right path. Losing weight is just a matter of time but it is going to be permanent this time.
Fads work on the principle of deprivation
In the diet world, deprivation is a euphemism for punishment – to you and your body. Extremities do not work in food behavior (or anything else for that matter). Besides being difficult to maintain, they are harmful to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Tea without sugar, Coffee but without milk, Bread without gluten, Milk but only almond. Any food practice that promotes deprivation and starvation is not going to work. Restriction in calories or elimination of a particular food group both spell deprivation. Eating less sugar or reducing carbohydrate intake might lead to temporary weight loss. But it is only harmful to health in the long run. The body needs a constant supply of energy through glucose as its preferred form. Starvation of cells increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body. High cortisol levels are responsible for increased visceral fat and insulin resistance. Increased cortisol and other hormonal disturbances is the major reason for mood swings, irritation, frustration, cravings and never feeling satiated. Felt that?
Fad dieting also leads to a problem known as “weight cycling”, which is when your body loses and gains weight over and over again. Ironically, weight cycling from fad diets causes your body to gain weight more quickly and easily.
All the fat that creeps back makes you feel ugly (GHOSH! YOU ARE NOT) and what it does to your confidence is indescribable. Instead of understanding the real damage it has caused the system from within, you think you are not well disciplined. It makes you think you are now just incapable of losing weight and will live in misery for the rest of your life.
Do not punish yourself. We are all in pursuit of happiness. The problem is we are looking for it in the wrong places. Happiness is in simplicity. It is within us (excuse the cliché). Eating correctly or dieting is a process, a path. You keep learning. Keep evolving. Loving yourself and nurturing your body the right way has to be a constant.
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