July 19, 2024
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The ’90s Called: They Want Their Diet Back

The majority of you reading this were either  teenagers, young adults or adults during the ’80s and ’90s. The advice at the time was that to lose weight, all that was required was to count calories and eliminate fat. The thinking was that since fat has nine calories per gram and carbohydrates and protein only have four calories per gram, one should remove the fat and save calories. Fat became the villain. Pretty soon everyone was going crazy eating fat-free Entenmann’s, Snackwells and lots of fat-free frozen yogurt. But how did they make this food taste so good? By adding sugar, lots of sugar! So while people were busy counting calories and eating lots of refined carbs and low-fat, high-sugar foods, their tastebuds and brains were hijacked by all this sugar. Combined with the cultural obsession with weight, perfection and calorie counting, people began white knuckling through plenty of fad diets.

Like so many people, I, too, was a product of this fad-diet system. The problem is it’s really tough to stay on a diet that calls for rigid discipline, calorie counting and extreme self control. All restrictive diets that count calories and eliminate healthy fats eventually backfire, leaving you craving, feeling hungry, less confident and defeated.

The idea of calorie counting may be ingrained, but the medical community is starting to really question this approach. Counting calories does not take into account that different foods have radically different effects on your body. I don’t think anyone would argue that 100 calories of broccoli and 100 calories of jellybeans are not the same 100 calories. One has fiber, vitamins and minerals (the broccoli of course!), while the other is pure sugar and just serves to spike your insulin levels and promote fat storage. By only counting calories, you’re ignoring the nutrients your body needs. Your body does not run on math; it runs on biology. You are also being asked to follow a plan and learn to ignore your hunger cues.

Diets also tackle the symptom—you need to lose weight— and not the cause—what’s keeping you from losing weight. Compare this to a clogged sink that is overflowing. If you just address the overflowing water by turning off the sink faucet, then you have fixed the symptom of the sink overflowing. But to fix the cause you need to physically remove the clog. The cause of excess weight is eating poor-quality foods, causing unbalanced hormones and blood sugar. But if you just address the weight loss by going on an extreme fad diet, then the weight loss will not be sustainable. All these diets are just that: diets. What you really need are lifestyle plans that allow you to eat healthful, nourishing foods, balance your hormones and achieve results that are maintainable and sustainable.

There are no shortcuts or quick fixes. The most basic thing to start with is eliminating refined sugars and processed foods from your diet (and by diet, I mean what you eat), which are foods that make your body crave and crash. You need to learn to eat real, whole foods and listen to your body’s hunger cues. When you are satiated and eating nutrient-dense foods, your body will arrive at its optimal weight.

So let’s ditch the “diet” mentality and start eating nourishing meals with protein, whole-food carbohydrates and healthy fats. Happiness and great health are achieved when you eat foods that balance your hormones, nourish your body and make you feel full and satisfied. When you eat well you are able to feel well and live well!

By Jacqui Kimmel

 Jacqui Kimmel P.T., NLC, is a certified health coach through The Nutrition School and a licensed physical therapist with 20 years’ experience. Her healthcare training and nutrition training combined allow her to connect the dots between physical activity, nutrition and well-being. She is the owner of Wellsquared Nutrition, a health-coaching service with a holistic approach to educate you on proper nutrition and wellness to empower you to live an overall healthy lifestyle.

 

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