Why dieting doesn’t work
We live in a period of history where our ability to choose for ourselves is at its amplest. We have a wide range of choices as to how we use our time and one of the fundamental choices we have is what we eat. While a lot of our choices of food are provided and built for us by companies, many people choose to create structures around what they eat. Just as we have the capacity to create schedules around our time, regimens for our workouts and exertions, we create structures to control the food we consume.
The problem with this is that for most people “dieting” doesn’t work. In a study by UCLA, people who dieted lost weight in the short term, but regained more weight after 4-5 years. That’s not because diets are a scam, the concept is logically sound – to try to limit how much food one consumes to lose weight. The idea is to simply burn more calories than one consumes. There are also different kinds of diets that require specific foods, like the popular and controversial ketogenic diet, but they all basically follow the same logical principle.
They don’t work because human beings are accustomed to eat what they are provided, not what they actively control. Within nature, there are a few main sources of food: plant and animal food. They come from the wild, or from agriculture and livestock. Those are the “natural” sources of food, but nowadays in supermarkets one can find all kinds of amalgamations of raw food into products. This is where the idea of us being more free now becomes all the more diffuse when it comes to nutrition. What is a greater representation of freedom? The one who goes in the wild or the farm to pick out the produce for the day, or the one who goes into the supermarket calculating what the best option is by looking at the label without seeing where the food came from? I know my answer.
When we try to control everything we eat, we eventually give up to what is most readily provided and pleasurable. There will always be a rebound from strict dieting because it takes all the spontaneity and experimentation away from eating. Limiting oneself to eating “real food” is a possible solution without constraining it too much. However, it’s much better to find a style of eating that works for you individually while avoiding the common pitfalls of modern food, like deep-fried and sugary foods. It’s always best to allow yourself to cheat every now and again, because it’ll ensure the longevity of your “diet”. The trick is to maintain a level of improvisation to the plan to make it interesting. That way you can fulfill your goals without having to live like an asthetic.
Overall, modern food is kind of a deathtrap. We don’t really know where it comes from, we only know the jargon on the label and the numbers. But we should enjoy food as well and the different things we have at our disposal. It’s actually quite an exciting thing to go to a market and see everything that is available to choose, so enjoy what is provided to you and not only your ability to choose everything.
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