Breaking down diet culture – and why it should be a thing of the past

Who here has been on a diet? *Raises two hands*

Yep, that’s what I thought, and research backs up that notion, too.

According to the Boston Medical Center:

An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

Simply put, many Americans trying to get “healthy” and “lose weight” are spending their hard earned money on products specifically marketed for those exact goals.

Wait, what’s the problem, KB? Seems fine to me?

Well it would be, if these products actually promoted true health, and contributed to long-term health goals (i.e. - being healthy for life, not just losing 20 lbs. in two weeks).

In reality, dieters might lose weight initially, most regain the weight in the years to follow. I could go on with medical research to back it up, but really, it isn’t rocket science.

So, how did we get here?

If you want the full run-down, I suggest reading this fascinating article written by Melissa Wdowik, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University.

In short, Wdowik notes diet fads starting as early as 1028, with a “liquid diet” of alcohol, to cleanses/soup diets, and even the more dangerous “cotton ball diet” (FYI I would recommend NONE of these).

Humans are fascinated with losing weight. To some, it appears to be a hobby. At least, for me it once was.

I was on the infamous “low-fat” diet for almost my entire life. As a kid born in the 90’s, what else could you expect? In a world of 100-calorie snack packs and “fat-free” Sour Patch Kids, life was pretty sweet (pun-intended).

But the older I got the more I found it hard to study in college with my low-fat lifestyle.

I began integrating almonds and minimal amounts of healthy fats, like a sliver of avocado occasionally, but still heavily relied on carbs to get my through the day.

It wasn’t until I graduated and started embracing more healthy fats (in moderation) that I truly felt satiated after meals.

Diet culture fed me a lie that fat would make me fat, and in turn, I *feared* fats of all kind. Don’t let this be you.

The weight-loss industry is there to make money, not help you sustain a truly healthy lifestyle. Companies want you to fear certain foods/food groups so much that you will have to rely on their products to “be skinny” or “fit.”

Completely eliminating any micronutrient is dangerous for your health, and that’s what most of these diets do. Diet companies also equate morality to food, which is so beyond wrong, I cannot…

Take these chips, sold in – of ALL places – Trader Joes:

“Reduced Guilt” kettle cooked potato chips (oh, and they are lightly salted, because clearly salt is what is causing us to gain so much weight).

It has become common to identify certain foods as “bad” or “guilty pleasures” and others as “approved” or “skinny/fit/healthy” foods.

Guys, gals, humans – we have to stop this.

If you view chocolate as “bad” and restrict yourself, you are more than likely going to binge your brains out on chocolate when you have one bite. I, too, know this from experience.

But what if you incorporated the foods you loved in your life, just more discreetly?

I love almond butter and chocolate (I use cacao powder actually), but if I didn’t allow myself to have it nearly every day in some oats, a smoothie, or even on toast, I would 100 percent eat a whole jar or block of chocolate in one sitting.

The same thing goes for those beloved kettle chips I talked about earlier.

What if you bought a good quality brand of REAL chips – made with only potatoes, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt – but had a serving alongside a homemade turkey/veggie/grass-fed beef burger? The odds of you eating the entire bag if you accompany it with REAL food are slim to none (but hey, that’s just my best guess).

My point is this: are some foods inherently healthier than others? Undoubtedly.

Does this mean you cannot eat what you want, within reason, and still maintain a healthy lifestyle? Not at all.

I realize this word is overused but it really comes down to this: MODERATION.

And really, it IS that simple.

Don’t overthink it.

And please please please don’t go your entire life without chocolate.