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Why Dietitians Hate Dieting
Food Is a Way to Connect with Others
"I've spent far too many years consumed in the chaos that surrounds the diet mentality. As a young teen, I suffered from anorexia nervosa—restricting food and overexercising—just to achieve that societal norm of what I thought beauty was. What I found through that journey was that I missed out on such a big part of my life! Food is not only a source of nourishment, but a beautiful way to connect with others. As a firm believer in all foods can fit, I've surrounded myself with many professionals who have that same philosophy. Let's dive in and hear what registered dietitian nutritionists have to say about dieting, while grabbing their favorite recipes too!" —Elizabeth Shaw, Shaw's Simple Swaps
Dieting Is Stressful
"Dieting is stressful! Stress affects your mood, your sleep, your weight, your fertility, and your general well-being. Counting calories and making sure you 'follow the rules' of your diet just leads to anxiety and can even set you up for feeling like a failure. You definitely don't need that. Instead, focus on the things you CAN do. Focus on the nourishing foods you CAN have."
Sara's recipe: Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
Dieting Implies Short-Term Changes
"Dieting implies short-term changes, which equals short-term results. The key to long-term health and weight loss is adopting an eating style that is enjoyable and sustainable. Focus on what to eat more of: fruits, vegetables, lean protein, omega-3s. Limit your portions of everything else, without cutting out entire food groups."
Torey's recipe: Kale, Pomegranate, and Apple Salad
Diet Doesn't Have to Be a 4-Letter Word
"When you hear the word diet, what comes to mind? An image of a plate of salad greens with dressing on the side? Or maybe it's standing on the sidelines at a birthday party wishing you could have a piece of cake? In our society, diet has become a four-letter word with a negative connotation; a word that hearkens thoughts of restriction, failure, and deprivation. A diet is temporary, lasting until the desired goal is achieved."
Jessica's recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
Diets Set You Up to Fail
"To think that one diet will work for you because it worked for your neighbor sets you up to fail. It's important to learn how to eat right for you, whether you're a 30-year-old male runner, a 50-year-old mom with a desk job, or a 16-year-old girl. Everyone has different lifestyles and habits, so it's silly to think that the same diet will work for all types of people."
Natalie's recipe: Rainbow Grain Bowl
They Pressure You to Be Perfect
"One of the main issues I see with clients on diets is the pressure of perfection. Trying to stick to strict rules and eat those 'perfect foods' can be frustrating and it's just not realistic. People think that if they stray from any of those diet rules they are failing, but general health and well-being is about so much more than that idea of perfection. It's important to focus on enjoyment in healthy foods and learning which foods you love that are also great for your health."
Amber's recipe: Steak Huevos Rancheros
Food = Pleasure
"Americans spend the least amount of time eating—or rather, enjoying their foods—and are still one of the most obese nations. In fact, 20 percent of our meals are eaten in the car. I think this says that the solution to our obesity problem isn't another diet, but rather changing HOW we eat. By incorporating a new outlook on food we can get away from the diet approach and into real healthy eating patterns. These include slowing down and enjoying meals with loved ones, viewing food as a pleasure, and taking time to prepare meals."
Bethany's recipe: Cookie Dough Dip
Thinness and Health Are Not One and the Same
"Thinness and health are not one and the same. Health is not a size—it's the result of consistently engaging in health-promoting behaviors. Part of that is nourishing your body well, but also managing stress, getting adequate sleep, and moving your body regularly. The purpose of dieting is achieving a smaller size as quickly as possible, which is practically impossible to do without compromising health behaviors."
Rachael's recipe: Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh
Fitness Should Be Healthy, Not Done to Meet an Unrealistic Ideal
"The extreme fitness and dieting culture has distorted our ideas of what a healthy body and lifestyle look like. Mindful eating and listening to cues our bodies give on eating just until we're full and nourishing ourselves with whole, fresh foods is key. Physical activity should keep our bodies healthy and be something we enjoy and not done to measure up to an unrealistic ideal."
Kim's recipe: Apple German Pancakes
Focus on Food as Fuel
"Dieting can make eating seem like a negative act, leading to short-term changes only. Instead, focus on food as a fuel. Learn which foods are satiating and make your body feel good, while recognizing proper portions."
Amy's recipe: Butternut Squash French Toast Bake
Diet Is Synonymous With Denial and Deprivation
Fad Diets Don't Teach Lasting Habits
"Most fad diets will allow you to lose weight, but they don't teach lasting habits. So, you lose weight—but then what? If you're like most people, you gain the weight back. It's a vicious cycle that tears down our self-worth and zest for enjoying foods. Instead, focus on foods that love you back. The key to long-term health and weight loss is adopting a lifestyle that is both enjoyable and sustainable."
Alex's recipe: Burrito Bowl Mason Jar Salads
Diet's Don't Work
"In addition to sucking the joy out of food, research is showing that diets don't work—and in fact are indicators of long-term weight gain. Intuitive eating, which I teach my clients, is a much more sustainable approach to long-term health and wellness."
Anne's recipe: Mexican Lasagna