How many diets are out there? I have no idea, and I really have no way to know, but there are A LOT. I have followed three: the Atkin’s diet, the Candida Cleanse, and Eat Right 4 Your Type. This fad diet portion of my life began when I was 13 years old. Yikes. I eventually stopped following fad diets and became a vegetarian. I remained a vegetarian for 10 years and only began eating meat again when I was pregnant and tempted by orange chicken. Muy Delicioso.
At this point in my life, I do not label the way I choose to eat as a specific “diet,” but I do have one rule for eating: variation and moderation. Believe it or not, the first time I was introduced to this simple and logical idea was in my first nutrition class in college. Our professor would repeat this mantra nearly every class, and it has stuck with me for all of these years. Specific medical considerations aside, the only “diet” I support is variation and moderation.
It has been my experience, and science will support me in this, that fad diets do not result in long-term results. They are (mostly) designed to help people lose weight rapidly and spend little, if any, time addressing complete nutrition. I know that many of us need to lose weight to be healthier, but simply being thin does not mean you are healthy. I have been thin at the detriment to my health, and I have no desire to ever experience that again. I want to feel great every day and enjoy all the food that I eat. Fad diets place too many rules on how to eat and contribute to people ascribing value judgements to the food that they eat. This is not healthy. True, a bag of chips and a soda are “bad” for you, but enjoying these unhealthy snacks infrequently will not completely undo the positive benefits of a daily diet of varied, whole, healthy foods.
In sum, I believe that eating should be joyful and free of value judgements. Food should make you feel healthy, energized, and even inspired. We don’t need diet plans to tell us what and when to eat it: we may just need to learn how to listen to our bodies. Let’s all be happy and healthy, not malnourished and hungry.
Do you have any nutritional rules that you follow? Have they been helpful or harmful?