You know what word I'm talking about. It's what many of us start, but few of us finish. It evokes all kinds of emotions, causing roller-coaster emotions at times! It rears its ugly head often, particularly around January 1. That's right, I'm talking about the word, DIET. Chances are at least some of your friends are on some sort of diet. And if they're not, chances are they all have an opinion about the latest diets out there. Paleo, Keto, Whole 30, Weight Watchers, Raw Food, and the list goes on and on. So, that begs the question: are diets good for us?
If you talk to most dietitians, the answer is a resounding NO. Why? Well, in a nutshell, science has shown us that they don't work...and weight loss has even been linked to depression . An article written by Dr. Edward Abramson, a psychology professor, states "there is still no compelling evidence that dieting by itself produces permanent weight loss." You hear your friends rave about a diet they're on where they lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks. Amazing results! But the fact of the matter is that rarely is that weight loss permanent. On top of that, it can lead to all kinds of other issues: emotional eating, yo-yo dieting, body image disorders and of course eating disorders.
Okay, so we know dieting is not great for us. But, we still want to lead a healthier lifestyle and improve our relationship with food overall. How do we do it?
We'll talk about a number of ways that can help in this blog, but one great way to start is to explore mindful eating, an evidence-based approach to healthy eating. This means, in part, slowing down the process of eating itself. So, if you're eating a piece of chocolate (yes, you're allowed chocolate!), fully engage your senses. Notice how it feels in your hand. Close your eyes, and smell it. Does it have a smell you didn't notice before? When you put it in your mouth, listen for any sounds and notice any texture changes as you move the chocolate around in your mouth. Finally, taste the chocolate and savor it. Do you notice any subtle flavors that you otherwise would've missed? This whole process of slowing down with awareness helps by honoring your body's natural hunger and satiety signals; it helps prevent you from eating more than your body needs as well as adding a bit of joy back into eating. Imagine that!