Diet Fail | Why your diets failed you and not the other way round
Have you ever failed on a diet? No? Well, I’m not gonna lie but we probably won’t be friends! If you’re not making mistakes in this life then you’re simply not living. Doers make mistakes and I don’t know about you but I’d like to look back on my life and consider myself a doer. Having a diet fail (or fails) does not make you a failure, it just gets you one step closer to unveiling your expertise on a very important subject matter. You.
This seems like an appropriate time to point out that while Jason & I consider ourselves Jedis of flexible eating, we are not the authority on your nutrition. You are. We have, however, been through a fair share of nutrition related experiences to be able to point out some things that maybe you’ve never noticed before. Usually the kind of thing that’s so glaringly obvious that you’ll find yourself thinking, “Why the heck didn’t I think of that?! Duh?!” Well don’t worry, you’re not alone. That reaction is totally normal and it happened to us too. Your attention is constantly being pulled in various directions, one minute you’re just checking your Facebook notifications, the next it’s 2 am and you’ve watched 30-something clips of Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund waddling around in adorable doggy outfits – side note, if you have a well-behaved wiener dog, that in itself is something quite miraculous!
The point being, it’s very easy to miss what’s right in front of you when you’re high on FaceCrack & busy multi-tasking 20 different things. That’s why we’ve got your back! Let us lead the way and point out all those obvious nutrition traps and pitfalls for you. That way you can merrily skip around them unscathed and reveal yourself as The Expert on a lifestyle that suits you best.
To help get you started on your quest, we’re going to point out all the things that didn’t work for us and what probably haven’t, or won’t work, for you:
1. Giving up something you love
There’s a whole host of diets that, unless you feel strongly about eating that way for ethical or health reasons, will fail you. Before I tell you what they are though, let me tell you why.
Giving up something you love to eat is simply not sustainable. We all have at least one food that we love eating so much we can say it brings us genuine happiness and pleasure. Just thinking about it, draws a lingering smile to your face and makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. For me that food is doughnuts, for you it might be your mom’s Mac n’ Cheese or Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Whatever it is, if I told you you had to give up that food for the rest of your life, would you do it? No. Of course you wouldn’t because that would be ridonkulous – as my hip & ridonkulously intelligent little sister would say. So why kid yourself thinking that after 30 days of deprivation, that you’ll be able to continue to live without the food that warms your heart and feeds your soul?
I’m telling you now, any diet that forces you to give up or restrict your favorite food is going to be a waste of time. Because one day, life WILL happen and you WILL crack. Maybe your boss will shout at you, or you’ll miss the last bus home, or your dog poops on the floor and you slip over in it, or maybe it’s your nan’s 90th birthday or your parents ruby wedding anniversary. The point being that more often than not, whether you’re experiencing something crappy or something good, those restricted foods will likely be there too. You’ll find yourself reaching for them just “now and again” and before you know it, you’ll have created a cascading effect of excuses for allowing your favorite treats back into your life. Those 20 lbs. you lost will be right back on your love-handles where you found them 3 months ago and now what? Relive the same agonizing experience of cutting out those foods all over again? Wouldn’t it be better in the long run, to save yourself all that time and agony and spend a fraction of that energy now learning how you can incorporate fun foods in to your life? It makes sense to us and we know it will make sense to you.
So, here’s a list of things that the diet industry told us we should give up and the diets that made us do it.
If you love carbs, like most normal consumers of the western diet, then be wary of fad diets like Atkins – 4 phases to low-carb misery – The South Beach Diet and The Zone. Newbies to the nutrition world may be lured in by their promises of “drop 10lbs. in 10 days!”, but don’t be fooled. These diets are not new or progressive, they’ve been around for decades and they do not encourage sustainable weight loss. If Kim Kardashian’s endorsement of Atkins doesn’t cause alarm bells to start ringing, then consider the list of foods Kim can’t eat while she’s on Atkins; “sugar, sweets, cakes, crackers, white flour, white rice,” and the list goes on. No wonder that chick is so cray-cray!
Carbs have suffered a bad rap, but the bottom line is that carbs aren’t bad for you and avoiding them basically means becoming a social recluse or a moody beatch. If you’d like to understand a little more about carbs then check out Jason’s short video here. Don’t worry, I promise he doesn’t get too sciencey!
Back in the 80s, the low-fat diet was recommended to all Americans in the form of U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The concern was that their diet contained too much saturated fat and this was leading to heart disease & other health issues. Some of you may remember that Time Magazine cover that helped to ignite the low-fat craze. However, without proper guidance and education about the differences between saturated and unsaturated fats, the low-fat food boom turned out to be a BIG mistake, resulting in the obesity epidemic that we now face.
The long and the short of it is this, you take fat out of food and it no longer tastes good. Realizing this, the food industry added sugar back in to their low-fat food products to enhance their taste. Removing fat from products should have made them LESS caloric, but by adding sugar back in, those reduced-fat products wound up having the same calorie content and sometimes MORE than their full fat counterpart! Next time you’re at the store, compare the nutrition information of reduced-fat Oreos with regular Oreos. There’s only 10 calories difference between the two!
So, thanks to the food industry hiding excess sugar in our food, we got fatter and sicker! Not because sugar or carbohydrates in and of themselves are ‘bad’, but because consumers wrongly assumed that anything low-fat – typically foods that are high in carbohydrates – was healthy and could be eaten in abundance. The lack of fat in people’s diets also meant that people needed to eat more in order to feel full. With an obesity epidemic on our hands and metabolic syndromes such as Diabetes Type 2 becoming more and more prevalent, it’s not such a shock to see the U.S. Dietary Guidelines changing their tune on fat 20 years later…
If that doesn’t convince you that you shouldn’t give up fat, then let me just say one word. BACON. I know, I know, I probably should have lead with that argument.
I once gave up sugar and I became a very sad and lonely individual. The end. You can either take my word for it or you can go ahead and try the Ketogenic Diet, the Elimination Diet, the Blood Sugar Diet, the Whole 30 Diet or any other 20 or 30-day sugar-free program out there. Fill your boots, give them all a go if you like! Just let me know when it’s safe to talk to you again.
So you heard vegetarianism or being vegan was a good way to stay lean. Maybe one of your running buddies mentioned Brendan Brazier and dang well if he isn’t ripped up more than your favorite pair of vintage jeans! Well, can I just say one thing? BACON.
You see what I did there? Sadly, as far as I’m aware, bacon has not started growing on trees. So aside from giving up one of the greatest food inventions of all time, unless you’re vegan or vegetarian for health or ethical reasons, you best do some research and see what you’re getting yourself into. Apparently a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health and for the environment. Well, Jason and I have seen our fair share of unhealthy vegetarians and have both experienced the unhealthy aspects of a plant-based diet first hand, having suffered with extreme fatigue & iron deficiency.
Plant-based eaters often neglect their protein throwing their macros completely out of balance, which can cause weight gain and health issues related to body fat. Not only that, but nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin b12 (important for energy and brain function), creatine (vital for cellular function & plays a role in Multiple Sclerosis), Omega-3 DHA (important for brain function and heart health) along with many others, tend to be more common amongst vegetarians and vegans. Ensuring you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need and getting a sufficient amount of complete protein, becomes a full time job when you’re committed to meatless macros.
If you do decide to give vegetarianism a go, make sure you check out one of our vegetarian specific meal plans, which has been carefully designed to ensure you’re getting the correct balance of macro and micronutrients – check out our special offer on 4-weeks of meal plans!
Obviously I’m not talking about the kind of diet that’s forced on you because your jaw’s been wired shut or because you just had your tonsils taken out. As cool as an ice cream diet would be, I’ve got to admit that I would miss being able to chew a crunchy piece of apple or tear off a large bite of a pastrami sandwich. No, I’m actually referring to one of those 30-day juice detoxes that tend to be most popular around the beginning of the year. Maybe you’ve tried a Reboot with Joe to kickstart your health & fitness journey. Nothing against Joe, I actually really enjoyed his documentary “Fat, sick & nearly dead” and even coerced my mother into watching it for motivational purposes. But personally, I like to eat my food, not drink it. With any liquid diet, you’re unlikely to be getting all the nutrients you need or a sufficient amount of calories. There’s also metabolic benefits gained from the thermic effect of your body having to physically break down & digest food. Something to think about if you’re getting the majority of your protein from shakes…
2. You had to change your schedule
Some days just finding the time to eat is hard enough, let alone trying to schedule it at regular, set intervals, am I right? I was once following a diet that required me to eat every 2-3 hours. It wasn’t so hard during the week when I was working a regular 9-5 desk job, but on the weekends it was so much harder and if I was traveling or on vacation, practically impossible! (There’s only so much rice cakes & protein powder a person can eat!)
Diets like the Zone premise the need to eat 5 meals a day claiming that it helps regulate your insulin resistance and improve other health markers. Well, there’s no actual proof that nutrient timing in and of itself is the cause for improvements in triglyceride levels, LDL levels or HbA1c. In fact, we’ve worked with plenty of clients who have seen drastic improvements in their health markers with our flexible eating program and they didn’t have to eat 6 meals a day or balance out their macros perfectly with each meal. Some of our clients doctors have been so impressed with their patient’s weight loss and health markers that they’ve actually supported a prescription of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast if that’s what’s working for them. And that’s the beauty of our program. If you want to eat 8 tiny meals a day you can, or if you want to try intermittent fasting you can do that too. It’s about finding what works for you and what fits your schedule, not the other way round.
3. You had to food prep
I remember back in my food prep days I would literally leave my flat with 6-8 Tupperware boxes filled with food. Often, bland food such as tilapia and broccoli, my treat for the day would be a little tiny piece of sweet potato. Diets like the Zone, not only made me food prep, but also measure things out into specific proportions to help induce my body into some kind of metamorphic state…Newsflash! The only zone I felt like I was in was the twilight zone.
What happens when your alarm doesn’t go off and you find yourself rushing out the house, not realizing till much later that your stacks of Tupperware are still sat on your kitchen counter? What happens when you have a hot date on a Sunday afternoon and didn’t get to spend your usual 8 hours of prepping grilled chicken, zucchini, and baggies of almonds for your week ahead?
These diets will tell you, you can only be successful if you have the next 7 days of your life planned and prepped. That’s not reality people! Sometimes we hear from people saying they can’t “do” Flexible Eating because they’re terrible at food prep. Well let’s not confuse food prepping with food planning. While most successful flexible eaters will always plan ahead, that does not mean they’ve spent hours in the kitchen. On days I have to leave my house at 6am, I can leave without being laden down by Tupperware, smug in the knowledge that I have a Chipotle burrito planned for lunch and that I can eat it and still have a successful day – and an enjoyable one too!
4. You had to drink a Shake or take Pills
Are people still doing Slim Fast? I mean it’s not so much a diet as it is a scientific experiment. It’s been around now for 50 odd years and although the plan has had some tweaks, the success of the program hinges on you consuming several ‘nutritious’ meal replacement shakes a day and restricting yourself to just one 500 calorie meal of your choosing. Lucky you! Essentially what you’re doing is substituting meals with shakes and getting your body as close to starvation mode as possible. Awesome! So not only are you wrecking your metabolism, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that this is not going to lead to something sustainable. There’s plenty others out there too like Isagenix, Wonderslim, Idealshape, Ideal Protein and the list goes on. In essence they are all the same thing; they promise you the body of your dreams and in exchange you just have to commit to buying and drinking their shakes for the rest of your life. Don’t do it!
Have you ever been sucked in by one of these diets? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’ve all tried millions of diets! We’ve worked with countless clients who have put themselves through the same misery. Well it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Your diet does not have to run your life and you do not have to keep gaining and losing the same 20 lbs. over and over again. Own Your Eating is not another diet. It’s about cultivating sustainable eating habits for the rest of your life. It’s a lifestyle with very few rules or parameters. There’s no clever gimmicks, or requirements to follow a 6 week boot-camp program too. Aside from tracking your macros, the only thing we actively promote is that you don’t eat like an asshole.
If you’re new to the premise of flexible eating you can find out more about our lifestyle here. For an introduction to macros we recommend our Beginner Video Macro Package or the 21-Day Nutrition Jump Start Come along and join us on our macro movement by following us on Facebook or taking part in a conversation with an amazing support network of people in the Own Your Eating Tribe.