Why I don’t want to use the word diet

 

Whether it’s the summer season coming up and you want to look good in your bikini, or it’s time for our new year’s resolutions and losing some weight is on your wishlist. People have several reasons why they want to start a diet. But we often tend to fall for the wrong types of diet; the ones that don’t work, or the ones that do work but aren’t sustainable.

Before you read any further here is an interesting fact:
“The dieting industry is the only profitable business in the world with a 98% failure rate.”  Federal Trade Commission

I had to let this one sink in, I will get back to it later…

What is a diet

When I was doing my research for this article I looked up the definition of the word diet. This is what the dictionary had to say about it:
1. the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
2. a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

When it comes to weight management, whether it’s losing, gaining or maintaining weight, to me this definition is exactly what I mean when I use the word diet.
Dieting is about habitually eating and it comes with certain restrictions based on what my goal is. But when people ask me if I’m on a diet, for example during my cut, i don’t like to use the word diet. Because of the image that pops in my head of all the advertising campaigns screaming; ‘one week detox juice clinic’, ‘lose 5 kilos in two weeks with this no carb diet’, ‘lose weight by replacing your meals with shakes’.  

Failure equals money

In the diet industry people sell outrageous ideas like these. Yes, we all want to lose 5 kilos in two weeks, but that doesn’t mean this will actually work this way. And yet, it seems that the most advertisable ideas are the ones that get the most attention, people want to believe it’s possible. In the end It’s the diet industry who wins. They want you to fail on your diet. So people will end up spending more money on their products.

What is scientifically proven?

Charlotte Markey, a doctorate in psychology with a focus on eating behaviours and body image, wrote a book Smart People Don’t Diet. I really like how she breaks down the myths around dieting all based on research and science.

This is a summary of some of her insights on dieting both from her book and blogs:

  1. Scientific evidence derived from decades of research all points to one thing that does work: eating less and exercising more.
    OK, stop. Read again. Amen. Continue.
  2. Make changes in your eat pattern which you believe you can maintain throughout the rest of your life. For example: if, for a short period of time, like during a diet, you eliminate sugars or carbs, but you already know that you don’t intend to continue to eliminate them from your diet for the rest of you life, it’s likely that when you add these foods back into your diet, you will gain weight.
  3. Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight. Starving yourself for a few days and then get right back into your normal way of eating is not going to do anything on the long run, same goes for detox juice cleanses or other crash diets. Losing weight takes time, months, maybe years. The process is not linear. The scale number will fluctuate. And that’s the part where you’ll have to stick to it, be disciplined and focus on why you want this in a healthy way of dieting.

My approach

I don’t use the word diet anymore. Although the definition in the dictionary is the way I see it. I don’t support the image the word diet brings up. It’s a way of living, a lifestyle. This has only recently occurred to me when I started my cut 3 months ago. I became aware of calories and my nutritional intake by simply counting everything I’m eating. I realised I slowly gained weight for the last 2 years just because I was eating more calories than I needed. Yes, it’s that simple.

My approach during my cut is the same approach I will use after my cut. Calories in vs calories out. To lose weight (during my cut) I had to lower my calorie intake. After my cut I want to remain on a certain weight which means my calories have to balance out.

Fat loss is hard

There is no magic trick to fat loss; not supplement, diet or training plan. It’s discipline, patience and exercise that will get you to lose fat. And I’m cultivating this as a way of living.

Read more

This is why I wanted to lose 5.5 kilos.

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