Alright friends so let’s talk about extreme diets. This is the letter X in the ABC’s of health.
I’m sure that if you’ve ever tried to diet, if you’ve ever tried to either lose weight or gain weight, you have been exposed to a magic a miracle. Something that supposedly will solve whatever issue you have forever. These aren’t new. These miracle magical diets have been around for decades and while it would be really nice to see them go away, I’m not sure that that’s going to happen because we are drawn to easy solutions. We are drawn to instant solutions. It is much more comfortable for us to imagine doing something for a short period of time and getting an instant result than it is for us to imagine changing something for the long haul.
That’s why these crazy extreme fad diets gain so much momentum. I think that’s why it’s so appealing to buy a supplement, or buy a shake, or buy a powder of some sort because we really do want that instant gratification. I don’t know if this is a current society that we live in, I don’t know if this is a current cultural north American thing, but the point is we don’t want to work too hard. We want the easiest possible way to whatever goal we have.
On the one hand, I’m all for not working more than you have to. I think it’s always best to be the most efficient as possible. The catch is that efficiency doesn’t mean laziness. We have to put in the effort. We should do our best to not complicate things, but the fact is anything you want to achieve in life you’re going to have to put in some work. You’re going to have to do something. you’re going to have to give something out of yourself for that goal.
Back to extreme diets. When I say extreme diets I mean anything that can become a tunnel. Think of things that have an almost cult-like following, think of things that become to the exclusion of anything else, think of things that become so polarizing that you’re either right or wrong, you either can or can’t. And the truth is when it comes to nutrition, when it comes to health, when it comes to exercise, there are very few things that are absolute truth. Especially regarding your diet.
For the purpose this video we’re going to qualify extreme diets as anything that has hard fast rules that you must follow. The other thing I want to get out of the way before we continue is that it has been proven over and over again, so this is not up for discussion even though people try to bring up this discussion again and again, it’s been well established that the only way to manage your weight, either increase your weight or maintain your weight or decrease your weight, is energy balance. This comes down to how much your body uses and how much you put into your body. This looks very different depending on the lifestyle you choose, and there are different ways to do this. There’s counting calories, there’s portions, there’s different methods that are visual, there’s macro counting, etc. So there are different ways to do this, but every single balanced diet for weight management is going to come down to energy balance. So those are two things that we need to keep in mind as we talk about extreme diets.
Examples of extreme diets are:
– to lose weight every woman needs to eat 1200 calories. That’s an arbitrary number that is not considering any of the important parameters to calculate food intake.
– another extreme diet would be saying that everybody has to do keto. While keto may be a good tool for some, and while it may sustainable for some, it is not for everyone, not to mention that it can be absurdly unhealthy.
– another example is that intermittent fasting is the solution to your health issues. Again, while this may be wonderful and sustainable for some, it is not good for everyone.
– yet another example is clean eating. This is a red flag for two main reasons: there is no real definition of what “clean” is, and also because it has been repeatedly shown that you don’t have to eliminate anything from your diet to reach your goals. So while “clean” eating may be great for some, this is not a definition that can be applied to all.
– replacing meals with shakes, powders and pills is also an extreme diet. I don’t think I need to explain why…
– the last example that I’m gonna give would be to cut out any food groups. Any of them. This could be imposed by an outside source or imposed on yourself. Unless you have a medical condition that specifically requires you eliminate foods from your diet, eliminating a food simply because you believe that that is the only way to manage your weight is a sign of an unhealthy relationship with food.
Why are extreme diets problematic?
I think the biggest reason why extreme diets are problematic is that we are looking at the moment instead of the big picture. ANY diet you use to manage your weight is simply a tool. If it’s cutting a food group, using replacements or supplements, timing your meals… whatever you do is tool. And the tool has the purpose of reaching a goal. The issue is that what GOT you to your goal is what will keep you there. And extreme diets are incredibly hard to sustain long term. And what you can’t sustain… you stop doing. So this perpetuates a dieting cycle that makes reaching your goals progressively harder.
Extreme diets tend to be either very expensive or very difficult to maintain over time. You have an initial burst of progress, if nothing else because you are making a drastic change and your body will respond to that, and then what? Most people can’t sustain these extreme diets for long, and you’re back at where you started.
I know… I know that following the latest trend is sexier than simply doing what we know works… but it works for a reason. Consume calories according to your goal. Move your body. Get enough rest. Choose foods that will fuel you and help your body. Learn to treat yourself to the things you enjoy. And more than anything: master the basics before you start getting into the details.
In the end many things are tools and we have to understand that a tool is simply that. it’s a tool to reach your goal, it’s not the goal it’s not the solution is just a tool. so when you’re thinking of your nutrition think of these things not as something you have to do, but as an option to reach your goals, and you’re the one who gets to decide if this works for you or if this doesn’t work for you. Is this something you can see yourself doing for life? If yes, you have a much bigger chance of following through.
I’ll see you back for the letter Y.
Keeping it simple,