Dear America, Diets Aren't Working.
Updated: Feb 27
Diets are like a manipulative boyfriend.
You keep going back to them hoping that they've changed and that they'll maybe even change you for the better. "This time it'll work," you say to yourself.
More idealistic than realistic, you envision what could be instead of what will inevitably happen: humiliation and gaslighting. Don't go back to your manipulative boyfriend. You can do better.
You deserve better.
The same goes for dieting – you deserve better.
From the Mediterranean to the Ketogenic to the Paleo to the Vegan to the Carnivore, diets have overtaken American society by storm.
Each year 45 million Americans go on some sort of nutritional diet. Yet, as diets are becoming more pervasive, Americans are getting less and less healthy.
Diseases of all calibers are pervading amidst the escalation of conscientious eating. It has become quite evident to me that the diet method is missing the mark.
Frankly, it has created more health problems than it has solved.
I'll admit that some diets appear to be more advantageous than others, but diets – as a whole – have tarnished our disposition towards food.
They've introduced the notion that a life of health and well-being cannot coexist with a life of eating delicious, satiating foods.
The greatest example of this is the calorie-centric position that American health practitioners use to frame their advice.
They'll advise low-fat dairy over full-fat dairy products or skinless chicken breast over a steak. As I've written before, the calorie counting approach is a superficial approach to nutrition.
It's unsustainable, life-torturing, and fails to shed light on the critical concept of nutrient density.
Other dietary regimens such as the ketogenic diet or a low-fat diet have success stories.
It's true that some people have had weight loss success by adhering to these protocols. However, these sorts of diets – ones that demonize a certain macronutrient – are almost never sustainable.
A 2020 study published in the British Medical Journal reinforces the idea that dieting is not the solution for advancing and maintaining health.
Surveying 15 popular-named diets (Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Paleo, Jenny Craig, etc) the study found that these programs indicate short-term success, but fail to provide long-lasting results. It concludes,
"Moderate certainty evidence shows that most macronutrient diets, over six months, result in modest weight loss and substantial improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, particularly blood pressure. At 12 months the effects on weight reduction and improvements in cardiovascular risk factors largely disappear." (1)
Where, then, does this leave us? Does this mean that the relationship between food and health is insignificant and inconsequential?
Should we even care about what we eat if dieting doesn't work?
By no means is this the answer.
Food is the most integral, determinative influence on health. There are, of course, other factors such as genetics or exercise that impact health.
But what we eat is the principal component of health. To believe otherwise is witless and nonsensical.
In order to experience the benefits of food's effect on health, we must quit dieting.
We must stop viewing food as carbs, fat, protein, & calories. These methods have incapacitated us to appreciate food.
Food is a gift, not a curse.
We must be led by piquancy instead of metrics.
The best diet is no diet. But don't misinterpret what I'm saying – there are harmful foods that we shouldn't eat.
However, there is a wealth of foods and flavors that are health-advancing.
We should celebrate the endless ingredients that we can use to create nutrient-dense, delicious meals.
Foods like pasture-raised meat, fresh seafood, hundreds of fruits & veggies, sprouted grains, cheese, eggs, nuts & seeds, honey, and of course, butter.
Stop dieting, get creative, and start cooking delicious foods.