Confession 4: I don’t believe in diets.

Wait, wait, wait. Disclaimer: I do believe in diets for people with special medical conditions. Medical conditions sometimes require avoiding or modifying foods to maintain health.

A more accurate statement may be to say that I don’t believe in fad diets. When I hear of a diet that excludes any major group of foods, I am especially wary. When we avoid large groups of foods, we limit our means of getting nutrients.

What I do about people trying fad diets

I teach people how to get the nutrients while trying their diet of choice.

Honestly, this is one of my favorite parts of being a dietitian, because I get to be a detective in my own foodie way. Staying on top of all of the diet trends is close to impossible, so sometimes I have to do the work on the spot with my client.

Take, for example, a diet which eliminates or greatly restricts carbohydrates. This means greatly reducing or eliminating fruit, whole grains, and starchy vegetables. That means reducing  choices of foods containing fiber, B vitamins, phytonutrients, and all of the other nutrients that come along with individual foods. Together, based on their new diet and food preferences, we find ways to get these nutrients. If we can’t come up with foods choices, I generally have to recommend a vitamin supplement, which is not a perfect answer either (see my next post).

Truthfully, I have found that restrictive fad diets are not enjoyable enough for most people to sustain for a long time. While this isn’t a good thing in some cases, the danger of nutrient loss is minimized when restrictions are extreme.

What fad diets have you tried in the past? Please share your experience!

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2 replies on “Confession 4: I don’t believe in diets.”

Two years ago, I decided I was gaining too much weight and didn’t want to follow in my moms footsteps who is overweight and battles with diabetes because of it. I signed up for Nutrisystem because I knew I needed some kind of guidance on what to eat and didn’t have to cook as they provide the meals. 7 months later, I lost 60 pounds. I stuck to the diet strictly for first 4 months then started to make my own dinners every other night. What I found out is that this diet allowed me not to think about food, it was something that I ate every 2 hrs to give me protein and vitamins I needed. I am not a vegetable eater. I did learn that I love bell peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, and even tomatoes (have to be diced or stewed).

Then I took a well deserved vacation to Hawaii with the family and that ended my diet. I managed to keep to the plan for a couple more months, then got addicted to all the sugar again (my huge weakness). I gained some weight back, and need to refocus my efforts again to make healthier decisions. I realize that I love “not good for me food” especially Mexican food (yummy.. cheesy..)… chocolate… sweets…. and that my choices are focused again on what I think tastes good and not necessarily good for me. I like your idea of not keeping sweets around the house! Problem is, my hubby likes sweets too. When I was on my diet I didn’t care what was in the house (after the 2nd month). I wasn’t tempted. I wish I was more disciplined and liked more green veggies, maybe one day? My father the farmer would be so proud.

I also do not love running… my treadmill is starting to get dusty again, so it’s time to start exercising on it again… oh joy. It’s time to focus on eating better on my own. I know that I can loose weight on a diet like Nutrisystem, but that going off that diet is where I had issues. I did learn a lot on the diet about food, I just went back to my old ways which is not healthy. If I can’t make healthier decisions about what I eat, I know that my weight will continue to climb which is not healthy.

I love your blog! Keep posting and writing!

Thank you so much for your post! While the details of you story are personal to only you, you are not alone. In fact, in my work I have yet to meet one person who doesn’t swing back and forth on the healthy-living pendulum. It seems that you have found quite a few key solutions which work for you; that’s huge! Your discovery of loving certain veggies (Yes! Support the farmers!), finding a program that works for you, and even realizing that there are temptations that you may be able to reduce in your home are all pieces that will help your pendulum from swinging so dramatically. I encourage you to, without judgment from yourself, ask for support from everyone in your home. Sometimes loved ones aren’t ready for healthy changes, and they accidentally sabotage those who are ready. It’s important to respect their right to change on their own timeline, but it’s okay to earnestly ask for the same respect in return.

Regarding exercise, I encourage you to find what you love or find a reliable exercise partner. As I discussed in my exercise blog post, most of us don’t have the discipline to routinely exercise without a motivator. Look for local recreational teams in sports you used to love as a kid; perhaps a masters’ swim team, or soccer team. If you can’t find what you need in your area, please start your own exercise Meetup group! There is always a need!

Thanks again for posting and sharing your story, Monica! Feel free to contact me for encouragement if you need it. I’d love to help!

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