Yes, body positivity may seem like the newest millennial trend, but the concept holds a lot of value. The idea that smaller equals healthier is not always true. We know that there IS a link between weight and health issues. But seeing that millions of people defy health odds has made researchers point out that weight gain may be secondary to other poor health habits. It IS possible to be over the BMI or weight deemed as metabolically healthy by professionals and be cleared as 100% healthy. On the other hand, you can be skinny and be extremely unhealthy. Weight is not the indicator of health and wellness that we maybe thought it was.
In fact, one of the arguments of intuitive eating is that your body would have been healthier if you had never started the yo-yo diet patterns that diet culture promotes. Here are some different ways being on diets can be harmful to your health.
There’s A Good Chance You’ll Gain Weight
Research has shown that a history of dieting is an indicator of weight gain. Many dieters start strong and lose a few pounds, but over time when the diet fails (as 95% do), they put back on the weight plus 10-15 new pounds.
Nutritional deficiencies are common in people who are on restrictive diets. The less calories consumed the less nutrients consumed. To get the optimal nutrients into your diet, you’d have to carefully structure it out when you’re eating so few calories. Sometimes this happens, but in a lot of our clients, we see repetitive low-calorie food choices and eating patterns that aren’t conducive to getting optimal nutrients.
Often when people diet they make choices that are within a particular calorie count but might not be the best pick in terms of health or nutrition. Think of the last time you were on a diet. Did you always choose the healthiest options? It’s common to see clients choosing diet soda and a cookie because it’s the same calories as the salad or smoothie they were otherwise considering. Perhaps before the diet, they would have been eating the salad, cookie, and smoothie as a meal and at least getting far more nutrients.
Up and down, yes and no. The choices you make on a diet often bring stress to your physical body and your mind that you wouldn’t otherwise go through. Have you ever felt guilt or shame over your diet? How about anxiety or depression, or that you have a lack of willpower? These are stressors and feelings that food shouldn’t be bringing you! Food is designed to make you healthy and to nourish you. You are putting your body and brain through a lot of undue stress when you go on a diet.
You Form New Unhealthy Habits
Beyond all the other problems with dieting, did you know that dieters are more likely to pick up new bad habits like smoking or diet energy drinks? It would have just been healthier to have a snack.
Overall, as much as I like to promote healthy eating, dieting and healthy eating have little in common. There are ways to lose weight without the normal diet failures and unhealthy habits. The best way to do this is through mindfulness. Intuitive eating naturally brings along a lot of built-in mindfulness practices and self–love practices that help us reconnect with our bodies and reframe what healthy looks like. And considering 95% of diets fail, we like to tell our clients that the worst-case scenario is that they learn more about their body and develop a healthier mindset towards their body.