Diet Culture: Fads & Thoughts

It’s the time of year where we reflect on our year and what worked and well what didn’t work. We celebrate accomplishments but also look forward to the year ahead and what we can do to improve upon. We talk about resolutions, goals, and intentions that we would like to accomplish. Many of us use this time of year to figure out how we can step up to the plate and work towards becoming the best version of ourselves.

I am a firm believer that we should create these goals. Not only in health and fitness but in all aspects of our lives. We all want success and to achieve the goals we set forth to accomplish.. However, I will be brutally honest when I say that a large percentage of us don’t accomplish these goals. I think a lot of this is due to the diet culture we have created in this society so I am going to uncover some of these fads and thoughts behind these cookie cutter approaches and marketing ploys that need to be put to bed.

Defining Our Food Culture

We have developed a societal norm around what it is to be healthy and in so have developed all of these diets, foods that are “good, foods that are “bad”, products that help you lose weight in an instant, and so on. We have been put into all these little boxes that if “x” diet helped Joe lose weight than it must work for Tim too. However, when Tim tries that same diet as Joe he actually just stays the same. It is both confusing and frustrating to say the least. We spend tons of time and money trying to “look good” that we have lost sight that we should be focusing on trying to find out what works for us.

So how do you determine what is best for you when there are all these diets and products out there. It is confusing for me at times to figure out what is best for me as a healthcare professional to cut through what is B.S. and what is legit so imagining what is right and what is wrong for the average person without a health background is super daunting.

Strict Dieting

Like I mentioned above there are tons of diet’s out there and a lot of them can be super limiting. I truly believe that if you have no dietary restrictions, allergies, health issues, or religious/cultural beliefs that would limit you to eat a certain food group than completely eliminating that food group is not necessary.

There are foods that you may be sensitive to like gluten, dairy, nightshade vegetables, etc… and these are ok to eliminate if you find they cause you discomfort but eliminating foods just because of a trend or someone telling you to, in my opinion is not a good enough reason.

The reason why you initially lose weight with these strict diets is because you typically are consuming less calories, you are being diligent with tracking, and likely you are eating better quality food then you were previously. However, they do not work in the long term because no matter what food(s) you are eliminating or restricting this type of eating not sustainable.

Binging

This type of restriction often time can lead to more binging. It’s a vicious cycle really. You restrict yourself during the week and then once the weekend hits you decide to drink a 6 pack and eat a whole pizza (ooopsss). Then you start to feel guilt, shame, and give up for the weekend or maybe the next week or maybe next year. Instead of feeling this guilt and giving up on your health goals and the food that you eat. One you need to give yourself some grace and stop feeling bad about the binge.

Instead of restricting foods we love eating we need to find a more sustainable way to fit them into our diet. So like the example above instead of eating a whole pizza make a homemade cauliflower or whole wheat crust pizza and load it up with your favorite veggies, serve it with a salad and have 1 glass of red wine. You will enjoy the meal and hit your craving but you won’t upset your stomach from a carbohydrate overload and you certainly won’t have a hangover the next day.

Creating a balanced meal plan is the best way to avoid binging and at the same time reach your health goals. It allows you create a flexible view around food and eating. Plus if you get a little off track you can off set and shift things around so you aren’t feeling like you wasted your time or efforts.

Nutrition Education

Something that we don’t get enough of when we are growing up is learning about how to eat healthy, how to eat properly, and how to move our bodies in for long term health. Instead we are bombarded by the media with food products that are “cheap” and “convenient”.  However, instead of learning about what is in these foods a huge portion of our society just grabs them off or the shelves or through the drive through window without second thought. Or if they do now that they are not good for there health they have not taken the time to find a better solution.

Empowering and teaching education around food and nutrition is something that myself and others at Concept Move strive to do. Creating longevity through whole foods (not food products) and moving your body are the two most important things when you are looking to improve your health and prevent disease.

In my opinion working with a trainer, health coach and nutritionist is the number one thing you can do today to if you truly want to make change and educate yourself properly. They won’t give you a fad diet trend to follow but actually teach you how to live a more prosperous life!

Top 5 Tips in Eating For Health

1) Eat REAL Whole Food If you find it in a box, in a package, with a food label then you need to be cautious of the ingredients and how it is processed. Try your best to limit these processed foods and go for real, whole foods, Vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, lean proteins, and some dairy!

2) Include Vegetables in Every Meal Vegetables are super nutrient dense, include antioxidants, and phytochemicals. These will helps support the bodily functions and improve our overall health..

3) Start Meal Prepping Meal Prepping is a total game changer. Planning out and making some of your meals ahead of time can help you stay on track and reduce the need to grab snacks and meals on the go. This can be overwhelming at first – so if you need more help on this please take a look at my Nutrition Survival Guide found on the Nutrition page. It’s a totally downloadable PDF!

4) Avoid heavily processed foods If it has a label on it – chances are it’s processed. Now, this does not mean you have to eliminate everything but you need to check the ingredients. Look for labels with minimal in ingredients. If there is a word on there that you do not know – a good rule of thumb is it’s probably not great for you.
 

5) Drink More Water! If you can just change one thing today then I will always answer with drink more water. It’s a simple thing but can improve so many aspects of our health. A simple rule of thumb is to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces.

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