Why I don’t “Diet” as a Dietitian
As a Registered Dietitian I hate the word DIET! Yes, you heard that right: I don’t believe in dieting. You’re probably asking yourself: How can a professional that literally has “diet” in the title DIETitian not support diets?
Enjoy your Food, Don’t Fear It
Diets are often restrictive in nature and can cause people to become obsessed with following a detailed plan, staying within certain calorie ranges or obsessively tracking their consumption of food. Ultimately, I believe diets lead to a fear or unhealthy relationship with food. I chose a career in dietetics because of my LOVE for food and cooking. It frustrates me to see the food shaming and fear mongering in the news, social media outlets and magazine titles.
Some diets completely cut out food groups. However, did you know that the food groups are based on scientific evidence? Each of the food groups contain vital nutrients our bodies need to function. I don’t believe in good or bad foods, and I honestly don’t like the term “healthy food.” What does “healthy” mean? With no definition or criteria to which a food can be compared to be considered “healthy,” there isn’t much clout behind that word for me.
Do Diets Work?
Another issue I have with diets is that they don’t work! People typically embark on a diet to lose weight. However, research shows that dieting doesn’t work long-term. Yes, people can often initially lose weight by following a diet; however, they just aren’t sustainable in the long-term and people eventually regain the weight. Think about it: If someone tells you that you can’t have something, it can make you want it more.
You’re probably wondering: Well, if she doesn’t believe in diets, what does she believe in? I believe in variety, balance and moderation. Food should not be feared, and I’m fed up with the current culture of food shaming. I truly believe all foods can be enjoyed in moderation. I believe in making lifestyle changes in which you focus on consuming nutrient dense foods from all five food groups, specifically focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meat. And, yes, it’s okay to enjoy a treat occasionally. Depriving ourselves of certain foods can actually cause us to binge and overindulge. It’s important to listen to our body’s natural hunger and satiety cues rather than follow a diet’s “rules.”
For Every Rule, An Exception
There is one caveat: People with a food allergy or intolerance must make changes that eliminate certain foods. A Registered Dietitian can be very helpful in navigating that road.
I truly believe in the message “Eat Smart. Play Hard.” Choose to consume nutrient dense foods from all five food groups AND move your body. It’s important to find physical activities we enjoy and that we make time for being active in our daily routine.
So, the next time you see a news headline about the latest diet or see someone selling the newest diet or weight loss supplement through your social media outlet, look at it critically: Does it seem too good to be true? If so, it probably is. Be savvy and skeptical when consuming nutrition news and research. Remember food should not be feared. Enjoy food and remember variety, balance and moderation are key!
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