The new year is often a time when people make goals related to their health and weight. In the effort to make quick changes, some people commit to ‘fad’ diets which are often strict and restrictive. Restrictive eating can put a person under intense pressure to make perfect food choices based on a list of eating and food ‘rules’. This can leave them feeling deprived and craving foods that they enjoy. Perfection is not attainable in most real-world situations, so why expect it of a diet?
Restrictive diets can negatively affect your health in the long run. Here are 5 pitfalls of restrictive eating:
· Many people avoid or severely restrict their intake of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary sources of energy for the body and brain, and they are important to supporting a healthy lifestyle. Those who restrict their intake of carbohydrates too much can find themselves lacking energy
· Restrictive diets can result in missing out in key nutrients. When food groups are restricted or eliminated, the nutrients that are in them often go missing from a person's diet.
· Your social life may suffer. Culture and family tradition both often revolve around food, and strict diets prevent many people from taking part in social activities involving food. Constantly worrying about the food that you are consuming and focusing on following strict food rules can distract you from enjoying activities where there is food being served. The more food rules you have, the more challenging it can become to enjoy eating and social engagements.
· Negative effects on metabolism and long-term weight loss. Restricted eating results in weight loss that is almost never sustained since the rigid rules are hard to follow for an extended period. Chronic dieters have the potential to gain weight, because they put their bodies through periods of restriction, which reduces their Base Metabolic Rate (BMR), the amount of calories the body needs to maintain life. If they stop the diet, they have the potential to gain the weight back (sometimes even more) since they have changed their BMR, and their body has grown used to receiving a lower amount of energy (or calories).
· A balanced diet consists of a variety of foods, with foods from all food groups, including protein, grains, dairy, and fruits and vegetables. The body and brain will not function optimally if they do not get enough of a certain macronutrient group, such as carbohydrates or fats.
Rather than concentrating on what you need to REMOVE and what you CAN’T HAVE from your diet, focus on ADDING IN to your diet:
· Add in more lean protein
· Add in more vegetables
· Add in more water
· Add in more fruit
When deciding on an approach for weight loss and health, the focus should not be on fast fixes, rather on long-term sustainable changes. Choosing nutrient-dense and enjoyable foods from all groups is the key to sustained energy, a steady metabolism, and mental clarity.