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Start Breaking Up With Diet Culture!

Diet culture is a system of beliefs that equate thinness with health. Diet culture is a world that promotes weight loss as a means of being a good person and attaining a higher status. Diet culture elevates certain ways of eating while making other ways of eating shameful. Diet culture creates unrealistic expectations and it is everywhere. It permeates our daily lives, our relationships, the things that we see and read, and so much more. The mindset of diet culture is doing more harm than good because it does not focus on overall health.

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A key facet of diet culture has made being on a diet the norm. There is substantial research showing the harm that diets cause in the long term. A meta-study, looked at several weight loss studies and found that most dieters were able to lose up to 10% of their weight in the short term (6 months – 1 year) but that 4 – 5 years later, they had regained the weight–plus more! Dieting has other side effects such as contributing to our damaged relationship with food, slowing down metabolism, leading to emotional eating, and restricting foods that can cause us to miss out on important nutrients.

Here are some ways to reframe your thoughts and get out of a diet culture mindset…

  • Stop acting like losing weight is the most amazing thing a person can do. We’ve all done it, complimented someone because they look smaller. This compliment seems to be beneficial but it is rooted in our diet culture mindset of a person’s size equals their worth. There are plenty of other things to compliment someone one besides their weight loss,  like the great job they did on a work project!
  • Get rid of your scale. The scale is not a measure of your worth. It’s a number that can and does change from hour to hour and day to day based on body fluctuations that are completely normal. If your mood or how you feel about yourself can be set and determined by the number on the scale, get rid of the scale.
  • Detox your technology. Take a good hard look at the social media accounts you follow, the blogs you read, and the websites that you regularly visit. Do any of them make you feel bad about your food choices or your weight? If the answer is yes, get rid of them. Then fill your technology with people and things that uplift you
  • Work on making peace with food. Many aspects of diet culture are about food. Diet culture tells us that there are good foods and bad foods. It tells us that we should eat a certain way. Instead of following what diet culture says about food, make peace with food. Eat based on what your body is telling you that it needs. Eat based on what makes you feel good. Eat based on what tastes good and is satisfying for you.

Breaking free of diet culture can be difficult, exhausting, and a little scary. It’s a process and it’s okay to need support and guidance during this process. If you’re reading to ditch diets and become friends with food but aren’t sure where or how to start, please reach out – Friendly Nutrition is here to support you.

 

 

References

Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, Lew A-M, Samuels B, Chatman J. Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments. Am Psychol. 2007;62(3):220–233.

Tandoori Chicken & Roasted Vegetables

This dinner was delicous, easy to make, and didn’t take a ton of time. So, it’s great for a weeknight meal. You do have to do some planning ahead so that the chicken marinates overnight but that’s it!

Tandoori Chicken & Roasted Vegetables (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients

  • For the chicken
    • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 2 teaspoons garam masala
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
    • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • For the vegetables
    • 16 ounces baby carrots (get rainbow baby carrots if you can)
    • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and bite sized stem pieces
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • For the yogurt sauce
    • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon cilantro

To Make It

  • The night before
    • Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, onion powder, minced garlic, ground ginger, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and paprika.
    • Place the chicken in a container with a lid. Add the marinade. Toss to fully coat chicken. Refrigerate overnight.
  • When ready to cook
    • Preheat oven to 425 degrees farenehit.
    • Prepare a large baking sheet by covering with foil or spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
    • Toss the vegetables with olive oil and garam masala.
    • Spread vegetables evenly on the pan leaving space in the middle for the chicken.
    • Remove the chicken from the marinade and nestle in the middle of the vegetables.
    • Roast for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
    • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the yogurt sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.
    • Divide chicken and vegetables between 4 plates and serve with yogurt sauce. Enjoy!

***Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste: One & Done.

Diets Don’t Work

It’s that initial rush. You start a diet. You immediately lose a few a pounds. It’s working! The diet is working! But then, it’s not working. The diet becomes difficult to stick with. The diet takes things away – fun things like eating out with friends or spontaneously participating in the office lunch. The diet stops working. The weight loss stops and in the long term, the weight may come back. Or you might actually add more weight than you lost.

Here is a cold hard fact: Diets don’t work, at least not in the long term.

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Research shows that 95% of dieters end up gaining back the weight that they lost. Some dieters, about ⅔ of the 95%, gain back the weight that they lost and then some. Dieting is a predictor of short term weight loss AND long term weight gain.

Dieting also has several side effects that don’t help with the intended goal of the diet. Side effects like binge eating, developing eating disorders, eating when not hungry, emotional eating, and eating simply because food is present.

So why do we keep dieting?

It’s that initial rush. Losing those first few pounds is exhilarating and it gives you a feeling of accomplishment. For the first 6 – 12 months, a diet works. People who diet can lose 10% of their body weight during those first months. However, the weight will be back. One study examined women who lost weight during a 6-month weight loss program and found that after 5 years, the average weight of the women was 7.9 pounds heavier than their starting weight.

Then, there’s the diet industry. The diet industry wants you to believe that your weight is a behavior that you can control. But, weight is not a behavior. It is a consequence resulting from a variety of factors such as genetics, age, gender, and lifestyle. The diet industry wants you to believe that you have direct control over every single pound because they want you to keep coming back for more diets to the tune of billions of dollars every year. Dieting promises are wrapped in messages that dieting is the answer to many things – health, happiness, illness, and more.

But if not dieting, then what?

Focus on health, not on weight. No matter a person’s size, health can be improved by making changes toward healthier habits. A study from 2012 looked at the association between healthy lifestyle habits and mortality. The healthy lifestyle habits were eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables per day, exercising regularly, moderate alcohol consumption, and not smoking. This study took the weight, based on Body Mass Index, of the individual into consideration and concluded that adopting healthy lifestyle habits decreased mortality no matter what the person’s weight happened to be. In fact, if all 4 healthy lifestyle habits were adopted, the risk of death was almost the same, regardless of weight.

Recognize that your weight does not show how healthy you are or aren’t. The number on the scale does not show the full picture of health. Is a thin person who does not eat any vegetables and who does not participate in physical activity any healthier than a larger person who exercises regularly and gets at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day? Absolutely not.

Center your health and wellness goals on your values. A value is a lifestyle change that you want to make because it matters to you. Why does it matter? Figure out the meaning and purpose behind the changes that you want to make. This will help you create health and wellness goals based on your values. It’s perfectly okay if this starts with a desire to lose weight. Why do you want to lose weight? Explore this question. Your why can’t be feeling words. Your why can’t be “I want to lose weight so that I feel better.” Look deeper – what is it about losing weight that would make you feel better? Maybe you feel better because when you lose weight, you’re eating better and when you eat better, you feel better. You feel better because you’re properly nourishing your body. With this lens, the value is nourishing your body. Once you identify your values, your can start making an action plan to get there.

References

Foster GD, Wadden TA, Kendall PC, Stunkard AJ,  & Vogt RA. (1995). Psychological effects of weight loss and regain: a prospective evaluation. J Consult Cin Psychol, 64(4), 752-757.

Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling, Lew AM, Samuels B, & Chatman J. (2007). Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, 62(3), 220-233.

Matheson E, King DE, & Everett CJ. (2012). Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Mortality in Overweight and Obese Individuals. J Am Board Fam Med, 25(1), 9-15.

Chocolate Chip PB Banana Protein Muffins

Let’s pause for a second and just appreciate the muffin. Muffins are great. They make great snacks. They’re super versatile – you can make egg muffins, meatloaf muffins, and a traditional muffin. The best part is that you can give the muffin a party hat and you’ve got a cupcake! I love muffins and this muffin recipe is pretty tasty.

Chocolate Chip PB Banana Protein Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅔ cups chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks)

To Make It

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare a muffins pan with cooking spray or line with muffin liners.
  • Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Scoop muffin batter into muffin pan. Bake for 15 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into middle of muffin comes out clean.

Fad Diets – What they are & how to spot them

“Drop 4 sizes in 30 days!” “Lose 3 pounds every week without dieting or exercise!” These are the claims of a fad diet. The American Academy of Family Physicians defines a fad diet as “a stylish weight loss plan that promises dramatic results.”

 

Almost all fad diets require that you go to extremes to follow them. They require that you restrict your calories, your food choices, and may require that you follow a very specific workout routine. Fad diets promise quick results that aren’t realistic, healthy for you, or sustainable in the long-term. Spotting a fad diet used to be pretty easy – there were blatant, too-good-to-be-true  statements about extreme weight loss. Today, it’s not so easy because the language has changed to sound less restrictive or to make you believe it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes can be great for weight loss and improving your overall health, but a fad diet disguised as a lifestyle change is unlikely to be of much use in the long term, and may even harm your progress toward a healthier lifestyle..

Let’s look at some ways to spot a fad diet.

  • Entire food groups are turned into the enemy. If it tells you to reduce a specific macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate, protein) or eliminate an entire food group, then it’s a fad diet. Despite what the fad diet wants you to think, all macronutrients and food groups play a role in your body.
  • It seems too good to be true. If you’re initial reaction to the diet’s claims are “really?!?” then it’s a fad diet. Be suspicious of any diet that claims it will magically solve your struggles. Basically, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • It attempts to trick your body. Trying to trick your body into believing it’s full or not hungry, isn’t going to help you. Getting appropriate nutrition is essential to your body and it’s actually quite difficult to trick your body into thinking it has what it needs to survive. Your body is smart!
  • It’s approach is one-size-fits-all. If there isn’t any room in the diet for you to be you, then it’s a fad diet. If it doesn’t allow for cultural practices or socioeconomic status, then it’s too rigid and it’s a fad diet. If it takes you away from social situations, then it doesn’t allow for your lifestyle and it’s a fad diet. If it doesn’t allow for adjustments that fit your life and are important to you, then it’s a fad diet and you should walk away.

The season is almost here when we’ll be inundated with more diets than usual (hello, New Year’s resolution season). Instead of going for the next fad diet, learn to work with your body. I know that fad diets are quite compelling but diets don’t work. Let’s ditch the diets and start building a healthy, happy, friendly relationship with food.