Spring Clean Eating
by Christopher Piemonte, Fitness & Wellness Specialist
Spring is here and the warm weather means opportunity for the many great outdoor activities that come with it. Often times, this uptick in activity will make us want to improve upon our eating habits as well. Eating properly is an important (if not the most important) part of living a healthy lifestyle, but with so many options out there, it’s arguably the most difficult.
Many diets have flaws that lead to a cycle of losing and gaining weight without any consistency. This post is to serve as an aid in how we think about our nutritional habits, since healthy eating is so important to our wellbeing.
A study published in 2014 found that diet and exercise together was most effective for weight loss, and that diet alone was more effective than exercise alone.
This makes sense if we think of our body like a car. When you put cheap gas in a car, it will still run. If you put cheap gas in it again, it will still run. Cheap gas will get your car from Point A to Point B in the same way that premium gas will. Looking at it that way, it would seem as if it doesn’t matter whether we use cheap gas or not, but this isn’t taking into consideration the long-term ramifications.
Just like with our car, ignoring how we fuel our body can be detrimental down the road, even if everything appears to be fine right now.
To many, eating better means starting whatever is currently the most popular diet. That might sound good in theory, but a lot of times those can be majorly flawed. That happens because many of the popular diets take a small truth and expand upon it as a way to market something new that’s backed by science.
Low or no carb diets are a prime example of this. If you significantly cut your carbohydrate intake, you’re most likely going to lose weight. But often times, this is primarily water weight. As a result, you’ll weigh less, but it’s not from burning fat. This is why people tend to gain most of the weight they lost back once they stop (and sometimes even more).
To combat this, we have to ask ourselves what the diet is trying to accomplish.
There was a popular diet a long time ago called the Mastication Diet. Followers of this diet were instructed to chew each bite of food until it was in liquid form. The main reasoning behind this was said to be that food was more easily absorbed when chewed to a liquid, meaning you didn’t need to eat as much. This poses an interesting question – is it better absorption that leads to weight loss, or the fact that people will probably eat less if they know they have to chew each bite 40 times?
A professor I had in college once gave a great analogy on this sort of thinking. Imagine someone stands outside every day to smoke a cigarette. They do this each day for many years. Eventually, this person develops lung cancer. Looking at it from the surface, one could say it’s just as likely that standing outside each day caused the lung cancer as it is that smoking each day did, but I think we all would agree that smoking is the more likely culprit.
This sort of thinking may seem silly in these examples, but it raises an important thought process. These fad diets that come about can be great when they are done as a kick-start to a lifestyle change, but the only thing that will yield long-term, consistent results is something with balance.
A diet can’t have a start and end date unless you want your improved health to have an end date as well, which means how we eat has to be something sustainable.
If you’ve decided to make a change in your nutrition, that’s an exciting and important decision. Look for balance in how you eat and it will be a positive outcome that sticks with you.