It’s hard to resist the siren song of the New Year’s diet. Nearly one-quarter of all resolutions for 2017 are about losing weight or eating better.
But there’s a reason that only an estimated 8 percent of people actually complete their resolutions. They’re often unattainable, and don’t match the way we really want to live. That’s why nearly half of all resolutions, and diets, don’t live to see February.
The new year should be about positive beginnings and the potential for a fresh start, not about punishing yourself. Why not start the year on a happier, healthier foot?
Here are 10 reasons to ditch the diet, the negativity, and the pressure that comes with it.
1. There’s no quick fix
Despite what the infomercials and the newest diet books claim, there’s no overnight solution to weight loss. No amount of juicing or kale will melt off the pounds. Crash diets that promise rapid weight loss and instant results won’t move the scale in the long term. Unfortunately, 95 percent of people who diet regain the weight they’ve lost within two years. Small, gradual changes have been proven to be more effective at helping people lose weight and keep it off.
2. You might be setting yourself up for failure
Start the new year with positivity and light instead of with the taste of failure. The majority of diets fail. It’s not you, it’s the unsustainable diet. Research has proven that diets don’t work in the long term.
The American Academy of Dietetics recommends skipping any diets that restrict entire groups of foods, like carbs or fats. If you can’t imagine easily sticking with your diet for the rest of the year, dump it! The goal should be a healthy eating habit. Forget about a diet that comes and goes.
3. Most diets aren’t actually good for you
Diets that heavily restrict calories put you at risk for malnutrition, gallstones, and other negative health effects. Cutting out entire food groups can cause you to miss out on important nutrients. Even more frustrating, the more you restrict calories, the more your body lowers your metabolism to conserve energy. Crash diets, like a juice cleanse or any other diet that is extremely low in calories, signal to the body that you are starving. Instead of losing weight, your body sacrifices muscle and bone instead of fat.
4. You might lose energy and your mental edge
Don’t start the year tired and dragging. A strict diet can leave you feeling low on energy and mentally exhausted. Hunger zaps your mental capacity and drains you physically. Instead, plan to keep up with your other goals like getting that promotion, cleaning out your closet, or starting your side hustle.
5. It’s boring!
No one wants to eat the same thing over and over or avoid their favorite foods. You may have the willpower for a while, but overrestriction often results in an unhealthy relationship with food. It can lead to overeating, binging, food guilt, and more restriction. Food should be something to savor and enjoy in moderation.
6. Your diet may sabotage your other resolutions
You only have so much mental (and physical!) energy. As much as no one wants to admit it, we can really only keep one resolution at a time. Put your focus instead on another resolution or goal that you want to keep through the end of the year. Turn your resolution into a habit to make it a success. Instead of juggling multiple resolutions, including a mentally exhausting diet, pick one as your main focus for the 66 days or so until it becomes a habit.
7. ‘Detox’ is dangerous
No matter how many gingerbread men or cocktails you indulged in, you don’t need an intense detox. Simply eating nourishing, whole foods will help your body naturally remove toxins without special cleanses or supplements.
A detox diet can get in the way of the body’s ability to remove toxins and nourish cells. Strict cleanses like the Master Cleanse or diets that restrict carbohydrates can significantly cut fiber intake, negatively impact the bacteria in the gut, interrupt normal bowel function, and cause other health problems like dehydration. A strict detox diet can also prevent the body from getting important nutrients, like healthy fats, carbohydrates, and essential protein.
Instead, Harvard Medical School recommends eating a healthy, varied diet, drinking water, exercising regularly, and sleeping to support the body’s ability to detox itself.
8. It’s not worth the extra stress
Dieting can increase stress and make it even harder to lose weight. Restrictive diets can quickly turn into obsession about calories, sugars, or carbs. Eating can quickly turn stressful and unpleasant.
Stress can be dangerous. Chronic stress can:
- interrupt sleep
- disrupt digestion
- depress the immune system
- leave you more prone to irritability, anger, and sadness
Routine stress has been linked to:
Now’s the time to reduce stress, not add to it!
9. Diets often lead to guilt
A bite of chocolate cake or an entire cheeseburger should not be grounds for guilt. Let go of the all or nothing approach and stop beating yourself up over “mistakes” or breaking the rules.
10. There’s a better way
Forget the highly prescriptive diet that lists out what you can and can’t eat. Instead, focus on balance and creating long-term healthy eating habits:
- Dip into your favorite “unhealthy” foods, but only eat them every once in a while.
- Focus on adding in more fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t forget that exercise is a key part to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Shoot for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise (even walking) most days of the week.
This year, create a healthy relationship with food that revolves around enjoyment and nourishment instead of deprivation and restrictions. Build your healthy lifestyle with long-term good eating habits and daily exercise. Leave the diets behind with the rest of last year.