There’s always debate on diet. Passionate people push their way of eating as ‘the answer’ to permanent weight loss. We need to cut the carbohydrates. We should fast twice a week. We should go meat free. Eat fruit, but only occasionally, and don’t eat bananas. Sometimes all the ‘advice’ can be super confusing and worse, much of it is misleading! So, what is the answer?
No matter how many testimonials you see from people who state a certain way of eating has transformed their bodies and their lives, the statistics paint a different picture. Yes, certain diets MAY cause weight loss short term, but the long-term differences in weight loss (after two years or longer) are small – often less than 2kg. Differences in certain health markers between different diets are generally also small. In most cases, diets just don’t work. People gain the weight back and often end up weighing more than when they first started.
The problem with diets is they cause both psychological and hormonal changes. These drive our body to return to its previous weight, and many people struggle to stick to a restricted way of eating long term, and that’s totally natural! After all, food is enjoyable and we want to eat food that gives us pleasure and joy. The answer then? Focus on health, not diets and weight.
All the debate and mixed messages we see in the media as to what diet is best only serves to confuse us. While there’s always talk of carbohydrates, fats and protein – we eat foods not nutrients! We know that eating five-plus a day vegetables and fruit is good for our health. We know that legumes, whole grains, seafood, lean meats, nuts and seeds and dairy are nutritious options. But we can put together healthy diets without certain foods too. Vegetarian diets and dairy-free diets can be nutritious ways to eat. The key is finding nutritionally balanced alternatives to the foods we eliminate.
So, before you think about trialing the latest diet for weight loss, remember they just don’t work in the most cases. We are all different, so it makes sense that we’ll all have different food preferences and feel better with different ways of eating. If your diet is balanced nutritionally and you can maintain a balanced, healthy relationship with food, then that’s the right way to eat.
Nicola Jackson is a NZ-registered nutritionist with a passion for helping people to develop a healthier relationship with food. Nicola’s blog Eat Well NZ tells you why you don’t need to quit foods, follow rules, or go to the extreme to be healthy. Her blog showcases a balanced approach to eating well, with plenty of healthy recipes and other tips on nutrition, fitness and wellness. You can also find Nicola on Facebook and Instagram.