First, I need to be clear about what I mean by dieting. When I say diet, I mean something like the Lemon Detox, Atkins, or whatever the latest celebrity fad the magazines are talking about. This kind of dieting for the sole purpose of losing weight, I am whole-heartedly against.
However, there is a kind of restricted eating or nutrition protocol that could help some people, which some may call a diet also. So here’s my tips on when a diet is useful and when it is dangerous.
When you are doing it to re-set your hormones, heal your gut, avoid or heal inflammation or allergy, to heal an illness. Sometimes a period of limited food or fasting state can help heal certain illnesses and dis-ease in the body. These programs often have a healing, fasting phase and a maintenance, everyday living phase. Be sure that the everyday program includes a very wide range of whole-foods and the fasting states are monitored and short-lived..
When you are doing it under the supervision of a knowledgeable, ethical health professional for a specific measurable purpose. This means your health professional is monitoring your diet and the results, maybe with blood tests or other measures. They can tell if the protocol is working or not.
When it is a transition period or step up to a healthier lifestyle. We often make change in a sort of pendulum swing. Often an intense and strict focus on one area is required for a short period of time, up to a couple of months, to help embed new habits, then once this new level has become natural and easy, you can ease the intensity and focus back a little and some of the habits will stick because they have become a part of your normal day to day unconscious habits.
As a renewal of commitment to self, sometimes a period of focused healthy eating or keeping to a limited nutrition program can reset and renew your health after a period of holiday or stress.
This is the most important factor of all, only follow a restricted eating plan when it is steeped in self-love and you are doing it to nourish, heal and revitalise your body, not just to lose weight, If your diet is restricting processed crap and filling you up with natural whole-foods, and you feel good about yourself, you’re onto a good thing.
Your diet is dangerous if it is solely focused on weight loss. When the diets main claim to fame is losing X kgs in Y weeks. If your diet is only about losing weight, it may compromise your health in order to lose weight quickly. There are many, many ways to lose weight quickly, and most of them are harmful to your long-term health, metabolism and wellbeing.
When it uses meal replacer shakes or thermogenic, caffeine filled ingredients to “speed-up” fat loss, or “bind- carbs” it is dangerous. There are supplement stores popping up like mushrooms, and 90% of what they sell is garbage. Some natural supplements can help with fat loss and overall health, like a natural fibre supplement, maca, or bee pollen. But, if your supplement has people with 6 pack abs on the front and numbers and unpronounceable ingredients on the back, put it down, it’s not worth it.
When the leader or spokesmodel has no nutritional or serious health qualifications other than being skinny or hot be very wary. Just because they are skinny, does not mean they are healthy or know anything about nutrition and health. Some do, some don’t.
There are lots of talk of allergies and intolerances nowadays, but not everyone has food intolerances. When a diet cuts out major whole food groups with no scientific basis that relates to your personal health profile, it’s not useful for you. Everybody is different, and not everybody needs to cut out this or that, some people may, and some may not. Randomly following a diet because someone else does will not help you.
When you are on a diet without a health professionals guidance and supervision you can end up making choices that damage your long term health. I don’t mean your local weight loss consultant, who’s done a weekend course, you only need to read this apology to know that most weight loss consultants, while they have the best of intentions, often have no more expertise than you do. If you are on a restricted eating program, it is wise to have the guidance of a qualified nutritionist, dietician or naturopath to ensure that you are meeting your health needs. The exception to this is if you are researching and monitoring your bodies feedback yourself. For example in an elimination diet, where you strictly monitor and record your reactions to certain foods, after abstaining from them for a time and then re-introducing them one by one, you can learn to listen to your bodies own feedback. You have infinite wisdom yourself and if you give yourself the chance and time to listen.
There you have it, my personal guide of when a diet is ok, and when it is not. Please don’t be fooled by the many, many offers out there of quick-fix skinny diets. If you are on a restricted eating plan, be sure to do it for the right reasons and above all, focus on your health and wellbeing. I stand by my personal opinion that every single person can become lean and healthy without any diet at all, simply eating whole foods, lots of water and with daily exercise.
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