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I Don’t Believe in Diets. Here's Why.

by Nadiah Syahirah. |

Every start or middle of the year, someone in our friend group will announce that they don’t eat rice anymore or they are now vegan or pescatarian or worse, they don’t want to eat ANY carbohydrates at all. Which means no more kuey teow, meehoon, nasi goreng, nasi lemak, pasta, pizza and the list goes on.

They get so excited about it the first month, and then when we meet them again five months later, they’re like “Oh no more diet la, malas already.''

And that is such a normal response because…. we are only human and not all of us are able to stay constantly motivated 24/7.

How many times have we started a diet and then we give up because we can’t keep up with the new changes in food intake?

We’re left constantly unsatisfied by the food we’re allowed or should eat and our cravings become more intense the longer we’re on a diet. When we’re on a diet, we constantly remind ourselves of the food we can eat, which will subsequently remind us of the food we can’t eat. These foods now become “forbidden food” and as part of human nature, once we can’t have it, the more we want it. And in our heads, the food will taste and feel much better than it actually tastes like.

So we decide to break the diet for a day or two just to give ourselves a cheat day over the weekend, and the minute we let ourselves eat the “forbidden food”, we’ll go crazy and binge it. Then, we presume our diet again for another month or two, and after a while, we get weary of this diet and its restrictions and yearn for the “forbidden food” again. Motivation will soon deplete and there is no more diet. We binge the food we couldn’t eat before and eat normally, possibly gaining back the same amount of weight we lost earlier. This is always very frustrating and we’re left feeling very unhappy because we actually put in the effort to become healthier and to lose weight just to end up with little to no changes. We feel even more demotivated compared to before starting a diet.

So, it’s not sustainable in the long run.

And diets just make you miserable.

Personally, I have tried losing weight by dieting through rationing the rice I ate and not eating any oily and junk food at all. And it never seemed to last very long, because it wasn’t a change that I could see myself doing forever.

Instead, I changed my relationship with food by learning to love healthy food. I tried figuring out healthy meals that I genuinely enjoy eating like salmon (which is kinda pricey so only occasionally), baked chicken, steamed fish, switching french fries for sweet potato fries. I mean, i still have my favourite creamy pasta but now its amidst the other healthier options. I also decided that I needed to have a type of vegetable that I like. So I tried out a bunch of vegetables, since vegetables are a very important source of nutrients and realized I actually like eating a few types when cooked a certain way, even taugeh.

The best way to lose weight and live a healthier life is through consistency. With consistency, a change in your food intake becomes a routine. And this new routine will become your motivation. As James Clear author of ‘Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones’ says, “motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces momentum.” So, if you want to lose weight/become more healthy, you need to make the new changes a routine that can be sustained for the long haul and thus it becomes a habit that will motivate your new lifestyle.

Another tip that really helped me was to try and notice how I would feel after eating a meal. Normally, after eating a healthy meal full of whole grains, good meat and vegetables, I would feel good and full afterwards. Whilst, after eating junk food or very oily food, I'd feel very sluggish and groggy after. That’s why every time I crave eating junk food, I'll remember that greasy and disgusting feeling I get after eating it and it deters me. Well, sometimes I still do eat the occasional potato chips and fried chicken but very, very sparingly compared to before.

So don't just change your diet, think for the long run and change your lifestyle instead.

You'll notice that once you've shifted your mindset from focusing on losing weight to incorporate healthy eating as a part of your lifestyle, you would not only feel better but you will eventually lose weight without even noticing it. Less on counting calories but more on eating on time and with smarter food choices with reasonable portions.

Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with being vegan and pescatarian. I’m just pointing out that some people only do it for a very short amount of time because they did not think of it as their new lifestyle.

You may find out more about Nadiah on her Instagram too.

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