The word “diet” is often the most hated and feared four-letter word in the English language. It is associated with pain, success, struggle and failure. We “fail” at our diet when we can’t lose weight or we “succeed” at our diet when we finally lose those last ten pounds that have been hanging on our hips since freshman year at college. No body wants to go on a diet, and yet it seems like everyone has been on one at one point or another. Sadly, I have even met 11 year-old girls who say they are on a “diet”. That, to me, is messed up.
A chronic dieter myself, I have done everything from no carbs to oatmeal three times a day. None of it lasted. I might have lost a few pounds here and there, but it all came back. I felt like a failure. Worthless and, well, fat. Why? Because I couldn’t lose the weight.
Upon deep reflection, I realized something; diets are stupid. We waste all our time and energy restricting what we can and cannot eat; we feel like crap about ourselves; and we miss out on opportunities to live.
In conjunction with those thoughts, I compiled a list of why I, and everyone else, should STOP dieting and START living.
1. Diets don’t last long term
Sure, you might lose one pound, or you might lose twenty, but in the end food restriction doesn’t work. You will gain that weight right back and feel worse about yourself than you did in the beginning.
2. Yes. Some things DO taste better than skinny feels
Um, ice cream on a hot summer day, pizza and beer with your best friends, a fresh caprese salad drenched in olive oil, all of those things combat the expression, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” If you are depriving yourself, then skinny does NOT “feel” good.
3. Diets cause anxiety
I went through a phase in my life when I would get anxious if my meal didn’t go as planned. When a friend would ask me to grab dinner, I would turn her down because I already had my salad made for the evening. I even did this with potential dates. If I didn’t know what I was going to eat, I would get nervous. If I screwed up, then I would get anxious and immediately weigh myself, fearing a pound creeping its way back into my thighs.
4. Diets are boring
What is more fun; a salad you make yourself and eat alone, or a cheeseburger split with your best friend? Eating is more than the food, it is the experience. Before the 19th and 20th centuries, people rarely, if ever, ate alone. Food was a community experience, meant for conversation, delegation and celebration. When you diet, you usually are cutting yourself off from the ways food was meant to be experienced, with others. Furthermore, you make eating miserable for yourself.
5. You can still lose weight without being on a “diet”
Life was meant for enjoyment. Food was meant for enjoyment. Eating, in general, was meant for enjoyment. If you want to lose weight, then order a healthier option on the menu; balance your fries with a salad, don’t get dessert every change you have. Enjoy the sweeter things in moderation, but don’t deprive yourself in the name of weight loss. Small steps, like eating more fruit and incorporating more vegetables, can go a long way in trimming your waist for the long-term.
Isn’t the goal of losing weight happiness? Well, when you’re dieting, are you truly happy? I believe that we should lead healthy lifestyles, meaning opt for whole, fresh foods at every opportunity. But, I don’t believe we should restrict food groups and banish indulgences just because of the number on our scale or clothes. No, health is more than a number; it is a feeling. If you look great but feel like crap, then what is the point? Stop dieting. Start living.