Exercise & Nutrition Food Health Mental Health Wellness

5 Reasons to Ditch Dieting This New Year

New Year, new diet.

The Diet Industry, worth a whopping $200 billion (enough money to eradicate world hunger for 6.6 years) thrives on New Year’s weight loss resolutions. January 1st has become a national detox day. Weigh less, get organized, spend less, fall in love, get a promotion, learn guitar, find more “me” time. Traditionally, each New Year we make resolutions to be our best selves and to make this year better than the last. This year two-thirds of Americans made New Year’s resolutions and weight loss topped the charts.

Before dropping $300 on a 3-Day juice cleanse, here are 5 reasons to reconsider dieting in 2016:

1) Diets are not effective

In fact, research conducted at UCLA found dieting to be a consistent predictor of weight gain; two thirds of participants in a long-term dieting study regained more weight than they lost. Additionally, weight-fluctuations have been associated with diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Diets involve food restriction: restriction of certain foods, portion sizes, calories, ingredients or meal times. Any form of food restriction can have biological consequences that trigger binging and other starvation responses.

2) Fat is not the problem, dieting is the problem

“Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size that doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates ‘thin’ with ‘healthy’ is the problem” – Linda Bacon, Health at Every Size

Bodies are different. Fat, skinny, plump, curvy, thin or anywhere in between, what is healthy on one body may not be healthy on the next. There is no one-size-fits-all ideal as the Diet Industry often suggests. Additionally, evidence suggests that being overweight does not mean you’re unhealthy. The exterior of a car is not always indicative of the state of the engine and the size of our jeans is not a marker of high-blood pressure. 

3) Weight-loss doesn’t guarantee happiness

Blondes don’t have more fun, and thinner people don’t live happier lives.

True happiness must be rooted internally. External validation can only provide temporary and artificial satisfaction. We don’t need permission to be happy and we certainly don’t have to look a certain way to be happy. As Eckhart Tolle says in his book The Power of Now, when we put conditions on our happinesswe will never feel satisfied because “the present will never be good enough; the future will always seem better.”

4) Diets are time consuming

Dieting can require extensive planning and develop into an unintended time-suck. If time is money, are food portioning and calorie logging how we want to be spending our time?

On average, women spend 21 minutes a day worrying about diets and weight and men spend 18 minutes a day thinking about their size. Over a lifetime, the time spent dieting and fretting about weight adds up to about a year.

5) Diets shame emotional eating

Emotional Eating is defined as an act of “overeating in order to relieve negative emotions.” While diets shame the act of overeating, they ignore the more pertinent underlying negative emotions.

Maybe we should think of emotional eating as a signal—a symptom of something bigger calling out for attention, or a message from your body saying “Helllllo there! Something is going on and we are in need of some comfort, love and attention!” And, if emotional eating really is an indicator of emotional distress, shaming emotional eating will only cause more distress.

Diets can bring about weight gain, disordered eating habits, emotional distress. In the interest of health and wellbeing, consider ditching the diet empire that tells us we need to change the way we look to feel good about ourselves. 

This new year, instead of pledging to make yourself small, dare to be BIG. Embrace your internal being. Try new things and discover your authenticity beyond your external appearance. Dare to take up space through self expression. Look internally and ask questions. Explore talents and interests, dismiss fear, and be vulnerable.