It's the start of the new year, which hails another round of dieting to shed the extra kilos piled on over Christmas and New Year, or new year's resolutions to eat only unprocessed foods, green foods, low carb foods, vegan foods... the list goes on.
Here's a controversial thought, why not begin the new year with a different resolution, NEVER DIETING AGAIN!
Here are 5 reasons why embarking on a restrictive diet is setting yourself up for failure:
1. Restricting leads to binge eating later
Dieting is a zero sum game. Research has shown 60% of people who go on a diet regain more weight than they lost within 4 to 5 years.
By restricting foods heavily in order to lose weight in the short term, you tend to focus on the intense feeling of deprivation. You suddenly become acutely aware of the donuts, cakes, chips and burgers that you're not allowed to eat.
Often diets are calorie restricted so you never feel quite full or satisfied, which causes you to crave and fixate on food even more. We are biologically wired to then seek out all the food we can lay our hands on and devour it as our cavemen brains think we're in starvation mode. It is nearly impossible to overcome the instinctive bingeing that follows a period of restrictive eating. So why fight it? As part of any healthy lifestyle change, in order for it to be sustainable, you always must prioritise eating abundantly and feeling full and satisfied after every meal.
2. Dieting turns you into THAT annoying friend
You don't want to be that friend that has a million dietary requirements on your RSVP or the one that always orders the 'garden salad' when you go out to eat. It will inevitably raise eyebrows and invite unnecessary questions and make you the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. Worse still you may be tempted to just stay at home and avoid the awkwardness altogether. Dieting can turn you into a hermit with no social life...who would want that?
3. Restrictive dieting is the "gateway drug" to an eating disorder
Restrictive diets, whether it is giving up animal products or wheat / carbohydrates, are often featured by fitness and wellbeing websites, and creates unrealistic body image and lifestyle stereotypes. Many dieters can be convinced that their healthy lifestyle and their clean-eating regime are helping them when actually all it's doing is encouraging disordered eating and potentially leading to a full blown eating disorder.
4. Cutting out food groups may lead to key nutrient deficiencies
Limiting foods may lead to nutrient deficiencies which will cause you to feel lethargic, run down and not at your best. For example not all fat is bad - omega 3 fatty acids from foods such as salmon are an important source of fuel for brain function. So while you may be really fascinated by the idea of a certain diet because all the lifestyle Youtubers are doing it, research carefully to make sure you're not missing out on any key nutrients.
5. It's bad for your mental health
Life's anxiety inducing enough as it is between worrying about career, social life, dating, children, Trump, saving for a house deposit...you don't need to add feeling guilty and stressed about every bite of food into the mix. Research has shown that a high level of the stress hormone cortisol can increase appetite, drive cravings for junk food and cause accumulation of belly fat. So a restrictive diet might actually make you gain weight!
Losing weight should never be the goal, it should be the byproduct of a mentality shift and lifestyle change. Rather than restricting certain food groups from your diet (unless it's for an allergy or medical necessity), aim for eating in abundance the foods that nourish your body as part of your everyday eating and being open to 'treat' foods in moderation.
At Zen Ramen, our philosophy is always about promoting a sustainable healthy lifestyle through eating well and in abundance. Because our Nude Noodles are so low in calories (28 cal per serve) yet so satiating and delicious, you can eat it in abundance and never feel guilty.