Why You Shouldn’t Diet
Dieting sucks, right? All of a sudden, you go from indulging yourself on the foods you love (that got you into a place of wanting to start a diet) to foods you hate! But you gotta do it, right?
No. Don’t diet.
Take it from me. Right now, I am 22 years old and weigh about 160 pounds. At a time, I weighed much more than that — 230 pounds, to be exact.
I was a chubby kid for most of my childhood. Once I got to high school, I hated how I looked and felt. I had no confidence in myself and it impacted how I interacted with people.
In the middle of my sophomore year, I decided to start taking action. I was finally going to lose weight!
I didn’t search for the latest fad diet plan that was going to help me drop 30 pounds in a month. Even as a teenager, I knew that wasn’t a sustainable plan. Punishing yourself in the short-term may help you lose weight, but your relationship with food won’t improve and you will eventually fall back on bad habits.
Changing your diet over time is a much more sustainable pathway to losing weight and keeping it off.
There were a lot of dietary decisions I was making that were clearly contributing to my weight gain. Eating anything at night is bad. I was taking it to the extreme, though. It was relatively common for me to eat potato chips, ice cream, and pizza late at night. Real late at night.
Ending that habit was the first big step. The next was not drinking soda.
My parents’ addiction to Diet Pepsi was passed onto me. Hell, I still drink too much of it now. But for a year, I didn’t drink any soda whatsoever.
Cutting soda out completely actually goes against the argument I’m trying to make here, and I think it was a mistake. I should have scaled back on my consumption but not cut it out completely.
Slowly building habits, whether in eating or other areas of life, creates a higher likelihood of it sticking in your routine over time.
If I had a glass of soda once a week or month instead of cutting it out completely, it would have been much easier to completely get rid of it later on. Establishing habits slowly sets you up for further action later on. Establishing habits quickly calls for betrayal of those habits.
I could have slowly weaned off soda and had it so little that it no longer became a craving. Instead, I dropped it cold turkey. After a year, I went back to my old ways.
Despite losing 70 pounds in about a year and a half, my body never got to the point I wanted it to be at. I’m still not there today.
This has been good for me, though, as it has forced me to continually look at my diet and see where changes need to be made. And yes, working out harder would certainly help me get that six-pack. That’s another habit I need to build consistently.
A recent dietary change I’ve made is sugar. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so despite the fact that I’ve been trying to be the healthiest version of myself for over five years now, I still have eaten way too many sweets.
Luckily, a string of cavities has given me no choice but to make some changes. Unlike soda, I’m not giving them up cold turkey. While I don’t grab candy bars from the checkout line anymore, I still give myself a little treat here and there to keep me honest.
Diets are hard and you will likely go back on them. So don’t do them! Instead, attack your largest dietary concerns first and slowly adjust your eating habits over time.
Actively evaluating your diet will both help you lose weight and be healthier. Just don’t give up everything you love to eat at once.