When the new year starts, so do a lot of new eating styles or diets. Whether you’ve decided to try Whole30, follow Melissa Joulwan’s Paleo tips, take inspiration from vegan Instagrams or give the macro diet a go, these changes in how and what you eat require both commitment and a fair amount of adjustment. Sometimes the new restrictions can seem too harsh — or even altogether impossible to follow — but you may feel guilty about giving up on your healthy mission. We checked in with a couple of dietitians to find out exactly how to know whether your new food plan is worth all the trouble. Here, they’ve given us four signs your diet isn’t working out.
1. You feel hungry or tired. According to experts, a diet should never make you listless. “A well-balanced diet should leave you feeling well fueled, energized and satiated,” says dietitian Tara Linitz, Nutrition Manager at EatLove, a service that helps people create healthy meal plans. “Any diet should include lean protein (e.g., fish, chicken or tofu), fiber (e.g., fruit, veg, beans, whole grains) and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, nuts, avocado), all of which promote satiety,” she advises. While making adjustments and changes to your eating routine can be challenging (no one likes being told they can’t eat pizza all the time!), there’s no reason you should be feeling under the weather or crazy-hungry.
2. You feel unhappy. Vincci Tsui, a registered dietitian whose work features Health at Every Size principles (a super body-pos way of eating), notes that the way you eat shouldn’t make you feel anything other than good. “Your diet is probably working out if it makes you feel happy as well as satisfied with your relationship with food and with your body,” she shares. One major factor that contributes to being unhappy on a diet? Restrictiveness. But how can you tell if your plan is too narrowly focused on certain foods? “It’s probably too restrictive if you can cheat on it,” Tsui explains. Linitz also adds, “A good rule of thumb for deciphering if a diet is too restrictive is noting if it completely eliminates any major food groups.” Another warning sign is if a diet advises you to eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day or encourages more than two pounds of weight loss per week.
3. The only reason you’re on it is to lose weight. Would you be interested in eating the way you are right now if it didn’t make you thinner? If the answer is no, you may want to rethink your diet. Tsui notes that research has shown that many people who diet end up gaining back not only the weight they lost, but more on top. It’s probably not worth eating in a way that makes you miserable just for the sake of dropping some pounds that will eventually rebound. It’s also worth mentioning that, as Tsui says, “When a diet fails, we blame ourselves for ‘not having enough willpower’ or ‘not following the diet properly.'” Our instinct is to accept the blame for a diet not working out, but in reality, that’s not often the case, especially when it comes to diets that are drastically different from how we normally eat.
4. You have to cut out food groups you love. No, you can’t eat French fries for every meal and still be healthy, but if eating French fries makes you really happy, you’re not going to be thrilled about a diet where you can’t *ever* have them. “The most sustainable ‘diets’ are lifestyle and behavior changes that still include your favorite foods but in moderation,” encourages Linitz. Diets that exclude too many food groups can be hard to follow for a long period of time, and they aren’t feasible for those who don’t want to give up those groups forever. “Fad diets often set us up to fail,” Linitz reminds, “as they promote unrealistic changes that are wildly out of our usual routine.” So instead of going on a super strict diet that promises fast results, both Tsui and Linitz recommend making more gradual, long-term changes to how and what you eat that are realistic and make you feel good, both mentally and physically.
Have you ever given a diet or eating plan the boot? Share with us what tipped you over the edge @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)