When you think of the term “millennial”, you’re more likely to associate it with green juice-sipping, avocado toast-munching fit yogis – not so much with people who battle serious health issues. Yet how ironic is it that as compared to the generations that preceded them, millennials are really the ones to face the most difficult barriers to weight loss?
Studies report that an individual in 2008 is heavier than he would’ve been in 1971.1 And according to the researchers, it appears that a lot of it is beyond our control, with factors like stress, environmental pollutants, and genetics often being the main offenders. Not to mention the development of unhealthy eating behaviors that accompany the increasing drawn-out transition into adulthood.
To combat the rise of the obesity epidemic, millennials are seeking out “diets” – a term that originally meant “furnishing one’s body with food and drink regularly.” However, over the last decade, “dieting” has taken on an uglier definition, that is, short-term deprivation of food, mainly to achieve weight loss. Whether you’re already on a diet or are considering adopting one, here’s the truth you need to know – it will not help you stay healthier in the long run. Here are 4 reasons why.
1. Diets Are Designed To Backfire
Studies report that 95 percent of dieters gain back every pound of weight that they lost within three years of completing their diet.2 That is because, diets, by nature, are unsustainable.
A diet demands you to heavily restrict your calories by cutting out not just all those foods that you love eating, but also entire food groups like carbs and fats. Not only will your mind be unable to keep up with this unpleasant habit of restrictive eating, your body won’t be able to take the deprivation of a well-balanced nutrition either. So as opposed to healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime, dieting is only short-term and makes you go for extreme rebounds that can put you back to square one with your weight issues.
2. Diets Make You Feel Needlessly Guilty
Dieting induces a warped sense of morality in all of us. This is why so many dieters end up “cheating” and then feeling “guilty” over a mere slice of pizza. This is also why so many restaurants are now trying to label their desserts as “guilt-free” foods in their menus.
A balance of all kinds of foods is important for our physical and mental health. It is, therefore, essential to approach it in as straightforward a manner as possible, for this way we can clearly assess the pros and cons of each food and make a rational decision about how much we ought to eat. But by deciding what foods are “right” and what foods are “wrong”, diets place you at war with food and your emotions – making you choose between being “good” and eating a salad and being “bad” and eating a cheeseburger. No one should be made to feel guilty about eating something. You’re not robbing a bank, you’re just eating a slice of cake!
3. Diets Can Hurt Your Health
Sure, diets may temporarily make the readings of your weighing scale go down. But it can also heavily impair your health in the process.
In the short-term, all that restrictive calorie-intake can make your body think it’s starving. Invariably, your body will start compromising your energy levels and burn food at a much slower rate (which can ironically impede your weight loss process later on).
The long-term effects of dieting are far more horrifying. For those who “yo-yo diet” (go on and off diets) and hence, experience frequent weight fluctuations, the risk of developing heart disease are dangerously high as compared to that in people who maintain a steady weight all throughout their life.3 Plus, a majority of eating disorders originate from dieting. Studies report that 20 million American women battle serious eating disorders, with each of those cases having acquired their roots from an obsession with diets.4 Studies report that diet-obsessed people are more likely to develop binge-eating habits and use unhealthy methods like diet pills, laxatives, and purging to lose weight.5 6
In times that are driven by weight and physical appearance, it is fairly easy to cross the thin line that exists between dieting and disordered eating habits. What’s even scarier, is that most of the victims don’t even realize what they’re doing to themselves until things go out of hand.
4. Diets Ignore Your Emotions About Food
Many of us don’t have perfectly healthy relationships with food. Thanks to today’s food-diet-weight loss-obsessed culture, so many of us have become emotionally dependant on what we eat. We wolf down large servings even beyond a point when we are full or eat unhealthy foods only because it feels comforting and gives us an emotional “high.” Hence the term “comfort food.”
The best way to combat this problem is to understand and acknowledge the emotional triggers and the reasons behind them that make you lean so heavily on your food. This can ultimately lead you to deal with your feelings better, so you can develop healthier eating patterns that make you feel healthy and good about your body.
But dieting completely misses this point. It refuses to acknowledge our emotions that drive us to eat the way we do in the first place. Instead, it teaches us to think that the real problem is with our bodies and that if we exercise strict control over our bodies, we can crush our emotional problems that translate to our problems with food.
So when the diet is over, you may be happy to find you’ve lost some pounds. However, because your underlying triggers weren’t addressed, you will quickly revert to your old eating habits and regain that weight you worked so hard to lose. For instance, substituting potato chips with celery sticks can temporarily help us cut down on calories, if the chips were eaten out of boredom, celery sticks won’t fit the bill for too long either.
|↑1||Brown, Ruth E., Arya M. Sharma, Chris I. Ardern, Pedi Mirdamadi, Paul Mirdamadi, and Jennifer L. Kuk. “Secular differences in the association between caloric intake, macronutrient intake, and physical activity with obesity.” Obesity research & clinical practice 10, no. 3 (2016): 243-255.|
|↑2||Eating Disorder Statistics. National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders.|
|↑3||Bangalore, Sripal, Rana Fayyad, Rachel Laskey, David A. DeMicco, Franz H. Messerli, and David D. Waters. “Body-weight fluctuations and outcomes in coronary disease.” New England Journal of Medicine 376, no. 14 (2017): 1332-1340.|
|↑4||What Are Eating Disorders? National Eating Disorders Association.|
|↑5||Dieting in adolescence. National Center for Biotechnology Information.|
|↑6||French, Simone A., Mary Story, Dianne Neumark‐Sztainer, Blake Downes, Michael Resnick, and Robert Blum. “Ethnic differences in psychosocial and health behavior correlates of dieting, purging, and binge eating in a population‐based sample of adolescent females.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 22, no. 3 (1997): 315-322.|