One of the most detrimental things we can do to our bodies is “go on a diet.”
You, me, the person sitting next to you, even your dog or cat are all already on a diet. Your diet is the collection of your eating habits. It encompasses how you make food choices, which choices you make, how much you eat, and whether or not you address your food feelings.
At the end of the day, you’re already on a diet. However, the absolute worst thing we do to ourselves, as the TV show The Biggest Loser has illustrated, is to go on a restrictive fad diet of some kind for the purposes of losing weight. More likely than not, those who lose weight gain most if not all of their weight back within 5 years. It’s so much more complicated than “calories in vs calories out.”
It’s not failure
We didn’t evolve as humans with a penchant for eating healthy foods. We evolved as a species by eating nutrient dense foods to survive.
Our ancestors didn’t survive harsh winters before industrialization and what we view as modern civilization by pushing aside high calorie choices for the less fattening spring mixes. They ate what they needed to survive. Currently, the evolution of our nutritional needs hasn’t caught up with our technological advances.
Healthy eating patterns aren’t marked by the restriction of specific food items, or macronutrients. Healthy eating patterns involves eating a variety of foods and learning to understand what our bodies are telling us.
Start with Kindness
One of the most detrimental aspects of modern dieting is the toll it takes on your self-esteem. Your body is biologically driven to survive. Psychologically, we’re programmed to eat food for cultural, and emotional reasons. Food is necessary for survival.
The truth of the matter is that lasting weight loss depends heavily on your brains preset idea of your body’s ideal weight. There is this thing called a “set point.” It’s the baseline your brain uses to decide what weight is ideal for you despite what your doctor tells you.
The desire to lose weight comes with anxiety, fear, and preoccupation with what you’re eating. Dieting is detrimental to a person’s self-esteem because we go beyond taking responsibility and right into taking the blame. To lose weight and keep it off, we literally have to fight millennia of biological evolution.
Take a breath and think clearly
If you find yourself having one of those internal monologues or conversations with your inner voice, and what you’re hearing is hurtful and mean, it’s time to take a minute and step back. A healthy body isn’t necessarily a super lean body. We think it is because of all of the images we’re inundated with each and every day. But, simply put, a healthy body is linked to a healthy self-esteem and healthy mind.
Beating yourself up will only raise your stress levels, which in turn affects other hormones in your body. For some of us, stress triggers that need to eat food feeling.
Healthy behaviors like exercising in a way that’s enjoyable rather than stressful, eating foods that make you feel good, and cultivating relationships with your community are more closely linked to better overall health than having a lean figure.
Obsessive weight loss focused dieting can lead to dysfunctional behaviors like a mistrust of foods, kicking in starvation, binging, and creating those negative self-feeding inner monologues which harm your self-esteem.
The basic truth is that most of us could do with some adjustment to our bodies – or at least we think we could. What we need more of though, are healthier interpersonal relationships, healthy intrapersonal relationships, and a little personal kindness and acceptance of who we are.
There’s nothing more important to your wellbeing than loving who you are right now!