By Clare Keating – Nutritionist (BNutrSc)
Conversations around diets and diet culture are really prevalent right now. There are many people that are for diets and are promoting a lot of different types of them, think low carb, IIFYM, paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, calorie counting, no sugar, one meal per day, the list goes on. There are also others who are anti-diets and talk about being completely against them in all aspects.
So as Dietitians and Nutritionists, what is our stance?
We are both. For and against. Long term, a diet or food intake that consists of whole foods with some soul foods*, with no restriction is best. A diet that fuels your body, mind and soul is going to best support your overall health (that’s your physical, emotional and social health) in the long term. That’s the end goal, and what will be sustainable and enjoyable to maintain.
*soul foods are foods that don’t provide much nutritional benefit but provide joy to your soul! For me it’s chocolate and pizza, for others, it’s wine and lollies
However, there are times in certain situations and for certain people where diets can work and are useful or beneficial.
For example, bodybuilders who are needing to be incredibly strict and precise with their nutrition to make physical changes to their bodies, or athletes who need to cut weight for a weight division sport, other people like to do a ‘wed shred’ before their wedding. It’s not a style of eating they want to continue forever, but it’s something they can do to get to a certain point for a certain time period and then continue on with regular long-term eating habits afterwards.
The issue with diets is when people don’t have an established healthy balanced diet to go back to after the period of dieting is over. That’s when yo-yo dieting starts to occur and you go through cycles of being on a diet and seeing results, then defaulting back to your old habits and losing all that progress and then going back on a diet etc etc
So to avoid this, it’s best to set up a good relationship and routine with food FIRST (or work with a nutrition professional to help you) so you know what to do when you’re period of dieting is over and how to maintain those results.
This also isn’t to say that you HAVE to go on a diet to lose weight, I (Clare) like to promote sustainable weight loss where I don’t put anyone on a diet but more so establish healthy habits and make tweaks to your current diet so that you don’t fall into an all or nothing mentality or continue on that yo-yo cycle.
It really does depend on the individual with what will work best for you. Some people have no issue being really strict for 8 weeks and going back to a maintenance diet. For others, that way of eating can be hard and created disorder eating patterns.
Essentially – both methods eventually result in needing to have an understanding of how to live a sustainable and enjoyable, balanced lifestyle. That is key!
If you’re struggling with that, get in touch with our team here