The diet headlines are sexy. Lose five pounds by Friday. Drop fifteen pounds in four weeks. Get the abs you want without changing your diet (just drink our miracle weight-loss tea).
But the reality? Getting fit, getting healthy, and getting to your ideal weight is always deeper and harder than a two-week detox. It’s choosing to prioritize your health and wellness over, and over, and over again—and there’s no quick fix or magic solution.
So, if you’ve been burned by yo-yo dieting and trendy cleanses, this article is for you.
Today, we’re sharing 6 reasons why you shouldn’t go on a diet - and what you should do instead.
YOU BEGIN TO RESENT RESTRICTIONS
On a strict diet, it’s easy to feel resentful about all the things you “can’t” have—lattes, burgers, chocolate, that late-night glass of wine. Unfortunately, this negative mindset can carry over to your view of clean eating in general...and, before you know it, you’ve lost all your motivation for eating your veggies, making smart food swaps, and skipping second helpings. Healthy eating is no longer a positive choice—it’s a chore.
YOU LEARN TO LOVE CHEAT DAYS
When you’re subsisting on dry lettuce and baked chicken breasts, it’s normal to start looking forward to cheat days (whether it’s a built-in cheat day in your diet program, or a special planned event, like a family wedding). But there’s a problem with this perspective—you start to see unhealthy food choices as a fun reward, instead of seeing your daily healthy choices as an awesome way to care for your body.
YOU VIEW YOUR HEALTH AS A SHORT-TERM PROJECT
Taking care of your body is a lifelong privilege. But short-term diets mess with this mentality. You start to shift your focus from long-term health to quick fixes—like losing those last five pounds before your high school reunion next weekend. While short-term goals are a great way to keep up your motivation and mark your progress, it’s easy to get trapped in this perspective and fall prey to extreme, trendy diets that won’t set you up for long-term success.
YOU FOLLOW THE RULES INSTEAD OF MAKING CHOICES
Step-by-step plans and strict dieting rules can be a good starting point, especially if you’re habits need a serious reset. But you’re not going to stay on a diet for the rest of your life, so it’s important to learn how to make smart, intentional choices for your health—and not get tied to falling back on black-and-white rules that might not be realistic in the long run.
YOU FOCUS ON THE FINISH LINE
Goals are good. Milestones are great. Celebrations are amazing. But when you’re on a strict diet for a specific amount of time, it’s easy to fixate on the finish line. You might catch yourself counting down the days til you can get back to your morning croissant routine, or dreaming of the day you can eat a bowl of ice cream again. We’re all for celebrating big moments with a special treat, but you also run the risk of falling into old habits as soon as your prescribed diet is over.
YOU BRING GUILT AND FAILURE INTO YOUR HEALTH JOURNEY
Making lifestyle changes isn’t easy. When you start prioritizing your health and fitness, you’re sure to encounter challenges, excuses, and obstacles along the way. If you’re on a super restrictive diet (that has you quitting your old habits cold turkey), you’re likely to face a few bumps in the road at first. You might even cheat a few times. And, if you’re a perfectionist, the frustration of “failing” at your diet can make it difficult to continue...and lead to you dropping the healthy eating altogether. So, it might be wise to choose more realistic, manageable healthy eating guidelines that won’t have you feeling guilty about every little mistake.
So, if you’re dropping the fad diets, what should you do instead?
First of all, we think it’s time to shift the focus from short-term dieting to long-term lifestyle choices. While a guided program might be helpful to get you started on the path towards a healthy weight, it’s important to maintain a vision for eating well for the rest of your life.
Diets aren’t forever. Even if you’re on a cleanse or a program right now, start considering what choices you’ll make when you “finish.” How are you going to maintain your weight, stay committed to your health, and have a positive mindset when it comes to making healthy food choices?
You need to find a maintainable, realistic way of approaching clean eating. You need a food mindset that will last for the rest of your life...not just til the end of your six-weeks-to-abs system.
Need a few ideas? We love…
counting macros—a flexible, customizable way of getting the nutrition you need
investing time in healthy meal prep—so that it’s easy to make smart choices for most of your meals
focusing on positive intentions (“I’m going to drink eight glasses of water every day” or “I’m going to eat five servings of greens every day”) instead of focusing on negative restrictions (“I’m never going to drink coffee” or “I won’t eat any processed foods”)