Amongst a modern diet culture, it can feel impossible to know what to eat, when to eat it and what is ‘healthy’. This can be extremely overwhelming and dis-empowering when trying to lead a balanced lifestyle.
There is also, a huge amount of research that proves the immense negative physiological consequences that dieting has, not to mention the effect on the mental state and the fact that it can make you more likely to develop an eating disorder.
Before I continue with what may seem a controversial statement, I must point out that there is a difference between someone who chooses to be healthy for several positive impacts it may have on their wellbeing, as opposed to someone who develops an unhealthy relationship with food and potentially an eating disorder. As Sara Gilbert states, “people who diet may find it difficult to lose the same amount of weight on successive occasions”. Research suggests there may be an underlying metabolic basis for this, which was concluded through a study where rats were given the same diet on two occasions and the second time took longer to reach optimum weight.
My reason for sharing this with you, is not to make you feel like you must deprive more, it is to help you understand that the more you deprive your body of its basic nutrients and food groups, the more malnourished it becomes and the more stress you put onto your body. Living in a restrained way, calorie counting and the AWFUL fad diets we are constantly bombarded with, will only lead to constant worries around food, weight and body image, it will arouse negative feelings and ultimately wreak havoc with your wellbeing.
The human body NEEDS food to fuel it and as human beings, it is one our most basic and important needs. When we deprive our bodies of food and certain nutrients, we are left feeling empty, with cravings, feelings of unease, irritability and often anger. Imagine cutting down the amount of times you brushed your teeth, or took a shower so drastically that your skin started to react or your mouth became sore. Well, consider the drastic impact you could put on your body if you deprive it of food and the nutrients it needs.
My advice today? Eat an array of food groups including carbohydrates, fats, vegetables, protein and of course some of your favourites. Keep your plate full of colour and allow yourself to eat in a balanced way, foods that will nourish you yes, but also foods that make you feel good! If you feel like you need some advice on this, I would recommend seeking help from a professional such as Phelan Well’s resident expert, Rhiannon Lambert, who has a deep understanding of how to eat for nourishment and is an expert in this field.
Whilst I cannot speak for everyone, for me, dieting was one of the biggest causes for my eating disorder developing and what seemed harmless, soon turned into a life-threatening illness. Don’t let this be you, don’t deprive yourself of nourishment because the consequences speak for themselves.
 Sara Gilbert, Counselling for eating disorders.