Brace yourself…it’s almost time for the annual onslaught of ‘new year, new you’ diet culture marketing. It’s as if they know we’ve spent the better part of the last two months indulging in our favorite cocktails & seasonal desserts with holiday parties every other weekend. 41% of Americans cite the holidays as their main reason to abandon a conscious nutrition routine or regular exercise during December. We come out of the holiday season with full hearts and full bellies, eager & ready for a fresh start to find the healthiest and fittest version of ourselves come January 1st. But this same motivated mindset also makes us vulnerable targets for products & programs with promises of instant results, especially when food & body image is such a hot topic of conversation amongst friends & family. Your mom cut carbs and lost 20 lbs. in a month, your co-worker is trying to talk you into doing a 10-day juice cleanse, your significant other downloaded My Fitness Pal and furiously scans every food, while you are here overwhelmed by everything labeled “keto” trying to decipher what in the world is even “healthy” anymore. So, this year, before you dive head-first into another diet, let’s debunk the top 5 lies diet culture tries to convince you are true…
Lie #1: You can reach your goal physique in 30 days
A picture is worth a thousand words, and nothing sells better than a program that displays impressive 10, 20 even 30-day side-by-side transformations. But have you ever wondered what they looked like at day 60 or 90? Were they able to sustain the program and the results? Or did they stall out or worse, gain it all back? What if we asked them how they felt? Did they feel energized or drained? Did they feel full & satisfied or hungry & deprived? Usually the more ‘extreme’ the results and the timeline, the more unsustainable the approach and the greater the potential consequences such as muscle loss and metabolic adaptation. The faster the weight loss, the more muscle that went with it, tanking your basal metabolic rate. Eventually, your body will compensate, you will plateau, and will have to be able to sustain an even bigger calorie deficit or risk gaining it all back. Diets like these promote an aggressive caloric deficit to achieve a fast & drastic result because it sells, not because it’s necessarily healthy.
Lie #2: Low carbohydrate diets are superior for health & weight loss
Move over fat-phobia, keto culture is the new man in fad diet town. Nothing gets more hype (and debate) than the inclusion of carbohydrates in your diet these days. Doctors, wellness experts, nutritionists everywhere have devoted their life’s work to this low-carb diet dogma, fear-mongering consumers everywhere to think that potatoes are the equivalent of nature’s candy bar. Carbohydrates are our body’s primary energy source, yet very few of us know there are two types of carbohydrates: fiber & sugar. We can all probably agree that a high-sugar diet including carbohydrate sources like cookies, chips, cake & doughnuts every day isn’t dupped “health-promoting.” But what about fiber-rich carbohydrates such as beans, lentils, oats, rice, potatoes, and fruit? The obesity epidemic isn’t from too many apples, y’all. Adopt a keto mindset and you have to eat 15 cups of vegetables to hit your fiber goals. You read that right: 15 cups! Low fiber diets are linked to increased risk in sex hormonal imbalances, diabetes, and all-cause cancers. So, let’s ditch the diet camp dogma and agree to limit our carbohydrate intake from sugar but keep fiber-rich carbohydrates a main staple in our everyday cuisine without fear.
Lie #3: You need a “detox” or “gut cleanse” because your metabolism is “broken”
Nature gave you the most efficient detox systems money can’t buy: your kidneys and liver. Anything that is eaten or consumed, whether it’s food, alcohol, medicine, or toxins, gets filtered by the liver & kidneys. Assisted by your lungs, colon & skin, your detoxification systems are constantly at work and there is nothing additional that needs to be detoxed or cleansed. Now, we can do a lot of things that impede our natural detox pathways such as excessive alcohol consumption, low fiber diets (see above), mineral deficiencies, and dehydration. Instead of purchasing a very expensive diuretic or laxative marketed as a “detox cleanse,” start by replacing your alcohol intake with 80-100 oz of water per day. Bonus points for experimenting with a “mineral mocktail” of unsweetened coconut water, freshly squeezed citrus, and Celtic Sea salt as water additives to replace key minerals like potassium, magnesium, and sodium!
Lie #4: Men and women should ‘diet’ the same way
We’ve all joked about starting a diet with our partner only to have one of them see great results while the other gained weight eating the same thing (maybe even less!) What gives?! We know fundamentally men & women are physiologically very different, yet sometimes we still get caught up in the comparison trap. While men & women share many similar hormones, their ideal balance and daily rhythm of them is very different. Males operate strictly off a 24-hr hormonal rhythm called the circadian rhythm, impacting blood sugar & testosterone. Women become more complex by throwing in an additional 28-day menstrual cycle rhythm that controls progesterone & estrogen. This means that blood sugar balance, macronutrient needs, and meal timing can all differ across gender lines. Spousal support is always encouraged, but eyes on your plate, sir.
Lie #5: Your body is a fixed calculator of ‘calories in, calories out.’
If only it was as simple as, “just tell me how many calories I need to eat per day.” There isn’t some magical calorie number that’s eluding you. That’s just not how your metabolism works. Your metabolism is constantly changing & adapting to what you eat when you eat, how you eat, and what you don’t eat. Do we need a calorie deficit to see weight loss? Sure, we do. But is that going to be the same number for the rest of your life? No way. And if you think it’s as simple as counting ‘calories in, calories out,’ you’re in for an awakening when you throw in the wrench that 150 calories of Greek yogurt impacts your blood sugars (and therefore your fat loss!) very different than 150 calories of M&Ms. We must consider overall energy intake, but it’s only effective as a long-term strategy when we obtain a sustainable calorie deficit using the right types of food at the opportune times. So put aside that calorie counting app that likely has you aiming too low (igniting subsequent guilt-ridden binges!) and learn how to fill your plate with the ideal quality & quantity of food customized just for you before the stress of ever having to weigh, measure, or track again.
Kick diet culture to the curb! It’s time to Re-new you! Schedule a complimentary telehealth or in-person consultation.