It often feels “normal” to be on a diet. In a society obsessed with weight and appearance (a.k.a “diet culture”), being on a diet is increasingly common. Why do we continue to be on diets? If diets succeeded with weight loss, wouldn’t we go on a diet once, and then never have to diet again?
Metabolically speaking, our cells can’t differentiate between dieting and famine.
In either case there is a deficiency of energy or macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). Our bodies are smart, so when they detect famine, “survival mode” kicks in. Like the battery saving mode on electronics, our bodies become more efficient at energy usage in order to survive. When the body gets fed again, it makes sure that there is a little extra energy stored to ensure that it will be able to survive the next “famine”. It’s is a biological fail-safe to make sure that we survive. Thank you, biology!
Does the “perfect” diet exist?
The short answer is no. Choosing a diet is like choosing what clothes you will wear for the day. Today, you could choose to wear a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Tomorrow, you could choose to wear athletic wear. Yesterday, you could have chosen to wear something nicer. These choices change day to day because your needs change day to day. Let’s say today you wanted to wear something casual but easy to move in because you had some errands to run. Maybe tomorrow you planned to get some exercise, and yesterday you had a nice dinner to attend. Like what you wear will be different every day, what you eat every day will change as well. But what is important to note is that just like there isn’t a “right” way to dress, there isn’t a “right” way to eat either.
There’s no one-size-fits-all.
Even within a dress code, there is flexibility in clothing choice. Everybody’s way of eating will be different based on their preferences and what is available, accessible, and achievable for them. What is important is to figure out what works best for you. If you don’t feel confident about what, when or how to eat “well” or need a little support, you can reach out to a registered dietitian. Although health and wellness “influencers” on instagram or on the internet may seem knowledgeable and enthusiastic, most of them don’t know the science/biology of the human body in depth and dietitians train for years in various clinical settings to know how to make individualized recommendations for your unique health needs.
The diet trap
If you’ve ever been on a diet but regained the weight after some time, it’s not because you “lost control”; it’s your body is doing its thing and making sure you stay alive. We all live in diet culture, so if you’ve been on a few unsuccessful diets, you’re not alone! Diets set us up for failure because they don’t work for weight management in the long run.
The “perfect” diet just doesn’t exist. Find people and professionals in your life who can support you on a health journey, not the latest diet.
Blog Contributor: Masumi Yoshimoto