When it comes to diets, there really is nothing new under the sun. Same song, different verse. But we keep falling for it. Diets impose a set of restrictive rules that are aimed at over-riding our biology. Diets tell you that what you naturally want is bad. They say that your body does not know what it needs. They say that when your body is saying it is hungry, it is mistaken. What tastes good to you is wrong. Food is not meant to be enjoyed but to be conquered. In essence, diets tell the lie that food is your enemy and you are not to be trusted around it.
When you go on a diet, you are employing a set of tricks. These tricks are meant to get you to eat less than you want to eat. Less than your body is telling you it needs. Diets change on the surface, but they all pretty much follow the same ideas. So, to help you recognize one of these sneaky guys before it gets you, I’ve made you a little list of the different types of diets. You’re welcome.
The Trick Yourself Into Pretending Like You Don’t Need To Eat Diet: If you could only just get rid of that pesky thing called hunger then all of your weight loss dreams would come true. So, when your body is saying “comida por favor.” You pretend like you don’t understand Spanish and drink a glass of water instead. Or chew gum. Or go on a walk. Or eat a piece of celery because you heard that it burns more calories to digest it than you actually get from it. These diets also have strict rules on when eating is acceptable. You may feed yourself at preset mealtimes with preset amounts. Nothing after dinner because we all know what eating in the evening does. Wait, you’re a little fuzzy on why that’s actually a problem too? Whether you’re actually hungry or satisfied or full has nothing to do with it. Conquer that hunger and you will succeed.
The Avoid Something Really Bad and All of Your Problems Will Be Solved Diet: This diet has been around forever. It starts by convincing you that a certain food or food group is the bane of your existence and if you will just figure out a way to stop shoving it down your face, all of your problems will be solved. Remember how fat was pretty much the scariest thing ever in the 80s and if we would just all eat Snackwells and fat-free animal crackers then we would be saved? But oops, that made things worse, so Dr. Atkins decided it was a good time to recycle the age-old be terrified of carbs diet. But turns out eating only bacon for a year has other health consequences too. Lately, we’ve become more focused in our avoid-something-diets lately and instead of focusing on entire food groups, we like to get super specific. Poor gluten has taken the brunt of this, but don’t forget to feel sorry for dairy and corn too. The scariest things is that these diets tend to build on each other. They start with one food to avoid and when that doesn’t make things better, instead of saying “well, that didn’t work but thank goodness I can at least eat brownies again” we search for more foods to avoid. Eating becomes less about what you’re enjoying and more about what you’re avoiding. (disclaimer: There are real food allergies and sensitivities and if you’re a person who has one, please don’t leave me scathing comments. I get it and I’m not judging you, I promise.)
The Eat Substitutes And Act Like You Really Like It Diet: This diet wants you to believe that you can eat bars, shakes or diet versions of foods in place of the actual food you want and you wont know the difference. You might think you want an actual sandwich, but what you really want is a little bar. And you might think you want to sit down and enjoy an omelet and biscuits with your family on Sunday morning but what you actually want is to watch them enjoy their ham and eggs while you sip on a shake that you’re trying to convince yourself really does taste a like a Frappucino. And you might think you want a piece of chocolate cake but you’ll be just as satisfied with a small cup of low-fat yogurt instead. Just keep telling yourself it’s the same, maybe you’ll believe it after a while.
Diets may take on different looks, but they usually end in the same way, with another trip around the Diet Cycle. So, next time you’re tempted by the latest Facebook ad or well meaning friend, remember, it’s all the same. And instead of trying to trick your body, start loving it and learn to feed yourself in a way that respects how you were made.