As a certified nutritionist and someone who has successfully maintained a whopping 125-pound weight loss for the last six years, I often tell people that diets don’t work. For the majority of us, the term diet tends to conjure up painful feelings of deprivation, restriction and even starvation. Believe me, those aren’t the reasons why I think we should all jump on the diet bandwagon!
I spent many years of my life jumping from one crazy fad diet to the next. So, I fully recognize that the dieter’s mindset is one of frustration and rigid rule-following, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few reasons I believe everyone should go on a diet:
1. Trying a diet introduces us to different foods, new ways of eating and cooking styles.
We’re all creatures of habit. We tend to chow down on the same core foods all of the time — frequently, prepared in the same manner. Whether we use our microwave multiple times a day or refer to the pizza delivery guy as our personal chef, a diet forces us to change that behavior.
While on a meal plan, we get the opportunity to try new foods and meals that may be outside the realm of what we consider “normal eating.” Going on a diet and eating healthier taught me that I enjoyed eating vegetables like asparagus and Brussels sprouts. I also learned that a meal could be immensely improved just by adding spices like turmeric. And best of all, I picked up killer culinary skills by cooking more for myself instead of relying so much on quick, convenient foods.
2. We may notice food sensitivities that we weren’t aware of before and how certain foods affect our energy levels.
Some diets and detox programs require that we cut potentially harmful foods out of our food supply for 21-30 days to see how our body reacts. While many people may decide to see this only as a stumbling block, an elimination diet is very beneficial for learning how to listen to what our body is trying to tell us.
A few years back, I tried an elimination diet that cut out several common offenders (including gluten). After I had reintroduced gluten back into my food supply, I broke out in not-so-sexy rashes on my elbows. This unsightly rash continues to crop up anytime I consume gluten now.
Sugar is also commonly removed from diet programs because it can have a drug-like addictive hold on us (amongst a host of other reasons). During the initial days of a sugar detox, we will experience withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue and headaches. This is often our body telling us that it’s cleaning up our internal environment and doing repair work. The withdrawal symptoms typically last less than one week, but the insight you gain lasts forever.
3. A diet teaches commitment, discipline, portion control, mindfulness, and resiliency.
Okay, so this is clearly more than one reason, but it all works together. If we allow it, we can learn a lot from going on a diet. Commitment, discipline, and portion control are necessary for a healthy lifestyle. If we aspire to make a change in our lives, we must decide to commit fully, be disciplined in our actions and not be too drastic in what we do.
A diet requires that we become more aware of our typical, everyday behaviors so that we can alter them to develop new habits. Lastly, it’s essential to practice resiliency with ourselves as time goes by because we will make plenty of mistakes. We’ve got to watch out for the negative self-talk and keep on trying.