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The Downfall of the Diet

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The Downfall of the Diet

By Jen Carmen-Chart

Doesn’t it feel as though eating used to be easy? Meat, 2 veg. Spaghetti bolognaise. Meat, 2 veg again. Curry. Chilli Con Carne. Meat, 2 veg. Rice. Pasta. Takeaway was fish and chips (insert own childhood nostalgia here) from the local shop, which was ordered in person and then driven home ourselves. Eating out was for special occasions. Packed lunches for school with sandwiches, crisps, fruit, a carrot and a bar of chocolate were the norm, a practice I have carried into adulthood.

Now days, we are constantly hit with varying and contradicting advice telling us what and how we should eat; never mind that we seemed to manage it perfectly fine for years and years. Granted, this was prior to the explosion of junk food, fast food and delivery services. All of which seems to have thrown our eating compass right out of whack.

Keto, low carb, paleo, vegan, vegetarianism, fasting, juice diet, detox, gluten and/ or dairy free (not for health reasons), don’t eat after 6pm, don’t have breakfast, train fasted, Ozempic. It all makes your head hurt. If you’re above your late twenties, and especially a woman, it is extremely likely you have tried at least one, but most likely more, of the above diets.

I don’t wish to put words into anyone’s mouth, but speaking from personal experience (I’ve dabbled in about 8 of the above eating fads), almost none of them work long term, and almost all of them felt difficult, restrictive and alienating. (The exception being vegetarianism). Explaining to various friends and family why one isn’t eating breakfast, or why one can’t have pasta Nonna made, loses what little charm it may have had extremely quickly (unless you’re vegan, that never seems to get old!). More upsetting still is the reason behind why so many people jump onto the bandwagon with these diets – weight loss. Although ‘wellness’ and ‘health’ have made something of a comeback in terms of industry buzzwords, these are rarely the true reason why anyone is following these fad diets.

The main thing that all of these fads have in common is that they are extremely restrictive; either cutting out whole food groups, entire meals or in some cases whole days of food. Makes sense you would lose weight, right? Yet these ways of eating are not sustainable. People ‘fall off the bandwagon’, binging on their favourite foods, feeling immense guilt and shame that they were unable to maintain their willpower. This leads them back to starting the diet afresh on a Monday morning, and so the cycle continues on.

These diets literally work because they are depriving you of key food groups and nutrients that your body needs to function (see Carbohydrates: Friend Not Foe for more info on that).

What a better focus would be, instead, is eating whole-foods. And yeah, yeah, I know you’ve heard that one before. However, this gives so much food freedom. By making most of your meals and snacks at home, you are able to increase the variety in your diet, eat sweet things and have control over what you put in your body. You know there are no additives and nothing unnatural, just real ingredients and good food at the end of it – think of the kind of meals and baking your grandma used to do!

Another problem with these restrictive ways of eating is that you don’t learn anything from them. By making and baking at home you can learn so much; the nutritional values of your food and what actually works for your body; how to change your habits and your mindset. These things will result in your body feeling better (think better digestion, sleep, mood and energy), freedom from restrictive diets and the ability to enjoy what you eat.

 

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