Every 6th of May, the world celebrates “No Diet Day.” When you hear the word, “diet,” what comes to mind?

The Merriam Webster defines a diet as:

  • a) food and drink regularly provided or consume
  • b) habitual nourishment
  • c) the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal special reason
  • d) a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight

 

How fascinating and different are these definitions? It’s true that our diet is reflective of the foods and drinks that we take in on an everyday basis.  But, today serves as a reminder for us to think about our food and eating patterns in a different way. If we thought about dieting as “habitual nourishment”, the world would be a healthier (& happier) place.

Why Restrictive Diets Don’t Work

frown face with fork on pink background

An evaluation of 25 research studies tracking the effects of restrictive eating on weight change concluded that the act of going on a diet resulted in weight gain (Lowe, Doshi, Katterman & Feig, 2013). By restricting calories so greatly for a period of time, there is a susceptibility for individuals to come off said diet. Because the energy restrictions are typically unsustainable, when individuals do come off of their diet plan, they tend to eat more than their body needs, resulting in an excess of calories consumed. When this “non-diet” pattern of eating resumes, weight gets added back on. Long-term solutions are lacking, and an exhausting cycle of dieting and non-dieting continues.

It’s Ok to Desire Weight Loss, BUT Understand Your WHY

There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring weight loss. It is normal to care about appearances. You might be motivated to take a healthier path than your parents did. There is a popular philosophy/movement called “Health at Every Size (HAES).”  We agree with the fact that your body weight doesn’t measure your worth as a human being, but we don’t believe that being overweight = healthy. Even modest amounts of weight loss, (say 5%) can help you lower your risk for chronic disease, increase HEALTHspan, and possibly lead to a happier, higher of quality life. We believe that it’s OK TO WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT. But, the process should be individualized and tailored to your body – not your friend’s or some celebrity.

To facilitate the process, it is key to get to the root of why you want to make changes. It’s getting clear on the why. Knowing your motivations for weight loss can improve chances of weight loss success.  While feeling discontented with self is not necessarily negative and can often lead to goal setting and growth, it doesn’t help if it comes from a place of criticism or shame. For example, a critical sense of discontent could be seeing yourself in a photo and instantly having thoughts of going on a diet, or doing extra exercise the next day. A helpful sense of discontent might be recognizing that your mood and energy levels are lower when you miss your intended day of strength training.

Weight Loss without DIETing

There are several ways to lose weight and find peace at the table without going on a diet. Eating mindfully, intuitive eating, planning out meals, changing daily habits, and practicing non-food activities, such as getting physical activity, restful sleep, and stress management can all aid in a successful weight-loss journey and an overall healthy appreciation of food. It is time to step away from a “diet” and instead focus on “habitual nourishment.”

women holding a card that says "Diet - Did I eat that?"

What’s Intuitive Eating?

One of approaches we use at McDaniel Nutrition is called: Intuitive Eating. In short, Intuitive Eating is a way to heal your relationship with food through rebuilding trust in your body. A few of the principles of Intuitive Eating include; rejecting the diet mentality, honoring hunger, and respecting fullness. Whether you are seeking weight loss and/or trying to improve your relationship with food – all 3 of these guiding principles are applied in working with our team of Registered Dietitians.

We recommend this book on Intuitive Eating.


 

Relying on the Cues from Your Body, Not Your Computer

In past articles, we’ve stated that journaling your food in an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose It can help people lose two times more weight compared to those that don’t journal their foods.  While this statistic is valid, and calorie counting and/or food journaling can be a tool in one’s weight management toolbox; it’s not for everyone. It’s more important to rely on your body than an external informant. Because, guess what? Your body is always with you. Learning how to tune in with the cues and signs of your body is crucial to long-term success.

Enjoy the Journey

In short, the dietitians from MNT use a variety of tools to help our clients reach their health goals. We want our clients to feel alive, not deprived in their wellness journey. We don’t believe in the need for hard boundaries and limitations.  If you feel your life would be improved with weight loss, contact us. Let us know about your goals, and we will match you up with the personal dietitian to walk beside you in your journey.

 

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.