I can’t eat that. I’m on a diet

We may have heard this from someone we know or chances are you have muttered this phrase from time to time. Being on a diet is extremely popular, especially now that our nation’s health is deteriorating at such a rapid rate. There are also no shortages of diets out there for you to try. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach Diet, Paleo, Dukan…. the list goes on and on and on. It is a trend to be on whatever the new hot diet is at the moment, but is that really helping your health at all? Probably not. If these diets worked then we would have a much healthier population. There are a million different reasons that these and many other diets fail, but I believe that there are a few big reasons that keep the followers of these fads from their optimal health.

Let’s start with one of the more obvious reasons that diets can continue to flourish despite not really helping: money. The reason that there are so many diets out there is that they make a lot of money for whoever is behind them. People buy into the promises and claims that these diets make, then move on to the next diet when the current one fails or they get bored. The creators of these diets, and all the products that are sure to follow, are great at marketing. They will catch your attention, promise to fix your problems, and reel you in. And no worries if the diet fails, you can just move on to the next big thing, never really fixing your problem or promoting your health.

Some of these diets rely on their own pre-packaged foods or meal delivery services. While this is a good way to control portion sizes – something that we all need to get better at. Seriously, do you need to super size a burger that is already called a Big Mac? – many of these foods have added chemicals or preservatives: just check out the ingredients list from a NutriSystem Beef and Wedged Potatoes dinner! You may lose weight but you are sacrificing your overall health with these harmful additives. And which is better? A few pounds lost right now or living a long, happy, healthy life?

Another problem I see is that most of the time diets will have you cut out certain food groups entirely, like carbs or sugar or certain fats. This will cause you to lose weight (obviously, you are not eating a whole food group) and you are happy because you are losing weight. But the minute you start adding those foods back to your diet, you will start gaining that weight back. Which leads to one of the biggest problems. These diets aren’t meant to be followed for a lifetime. They are either too restrictive or hard or costly or just plain don’t work. Jumping from diet to diet is no way to achieve or maintain your optimum health.

This is what is really important. We need to stop with the diets that don’t really teach us how to eat properly (unless you want to live on a points system forever) and start with a lifestyle change. Forget the low fat, no carb recipes, stop counting “points” and learn to eat real food. Don’t worry about counting calories and start creating healthy meals with whole foods. The way you eat shouldn’t be a trend that changes every time something new comes along. And it’s also vital to keep in mind that everyone’s body is unique. What works for me might not work for you, another reason “blanket” diets don’t work. There is an interesting science emerging called metabolomics . In quick and simple terms this is the study of a person’s metabolic profile. I won’t get too into this just yet (at least in this post) but this science may be able to help individuals know exactly what they should be eating to be as healthy as possible and I can guarantee you it won’t be processed food in a pouch.

To wrap all of this up, the diet “fever” we seem to have is doing more harm than help. It is also contributing to the mass confusion about nutrition out there. In my quest to make this food journey as simple as possible, I’m once again defending good whole foods. Never say the words, “I’m on a diet” again. Instead say “I’m eating the best meal for me. Want some?” I sure do.