A diet is usually considered a healthy, positive aspect of someone’s life. When done successfully (which isn’t easy), dieting can boost your confidence and improve your health. However, if you aren’t careful, your diet can quickly consume your life and disrupt your overall sense of well-being. It’s important to determine if your diet is either enhancing or impeding your lifestyle. Here are the key signs to watch out for if you think your diet could be causing more harm than good.
Nearly every social gathering in our society involves food. Usually, the food is not diet friendly. For example, going to the movies involves popcorn and candy, party hosts offer chips and crackers along with heavy dips and cheeses (not to mention the alcohol), and of course going out to dinner revolves completely around food.
If you find yourself avoiding these situations in order to resist the temptation of the food, then you’re missing out on enjoying life. If you’re frequently turning down dinner or lunch invitations, or avoiding social gatherings where there is likely to be food, then your diet is obviously interfering with your social life. You may think that having an active social life isn’t as important to you as maintaining your diet and losing weight. However, if you continue to avoid social situations for an extended period of time, you will find yourself isolated and disconnected from your friends.
Inability to Enjoy Social Functions
There are certainly ways to stick to your diet at parties and dinners, but you need to make sure that your diet isn’t preventing you from having fun. What’s the point of going out with other people if you aren’t enjoying the experience? If you spend the entire lunch eyeing someone else’s fries, or if you are distracted from conversations at the party because you are thinking about the bowl of chips next to you that you can’t have, then you’re not doing yourself any favors. You should be able to enjoy some treats and relax your rules a little bit so that your diet and deprivation aren’t distracting you from your friends.
Or, for example, let’s say you are at a concert or a sporting event and everyone around you is enjoying nachos and beer. You might be able to enjoy the event without the food, but chances are that you’ll feel deprived. It’s true that nobody needs popcorn to watch a movie and that nobody needs Cracker Jack at a baseball game. However, if you continually deny yourself of these treats, are you really enjoying the experience to the fullest?
Obsessive Thoughts About Food and Weight Loss
Do you find yourself thinking about food almost all the time? As you go through your day, do you wonder how every little thing will affect your weight? Are you constantly conscious of how your pants feel around your waist? If your answers to these questions are “yes”, then you probably have an unhealthy obsession with dieting. Even if weight loss is a priority, it’s important that you still maintain a balanced lifestyle. Other elements of your life, such as your relationships, your career and your personal goals shouldn’t be neglected or sacrificed at the expense of your diet.
If you aren’t getting enough calories and are constantly hungry, then obviously food will be first and foremost on your mind. Being hungry will affect your mood, making you irritable. You might even find yourself looking at photos of indulgent foods and sweets that are forbidden in your diet. If these food thoughts are preventing you from concentrating on your work or other things you need to do throughout the day, then your diet isn’t serving you– you are serving it.
Losing Weight Too Quickly
Health professionals recommend that you lose weight at a rate of 1 to 1.5 pounds per week. While many diets advertise that you can lose “30 pounds in 30 days” or “six pounds in two weeks” this rapid weight loss is not healthy, and you’re likely to regain it just as quickly as you lost it. If you are losing more than a pound and a half per week, then it’s time to evaluate your diet and ensure that you are getting enough nutrients.
No matter how fancy the diet is, there is one basic principle to weight loss: the calories expended must be greater than the calories consumed. In order to lose one pound, you will need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit by eating fewer calories and exercising more. Because you are restricting calories, you need to make sure you are still getting enough nutrients and energy on a daily basis. If you feel light-headed or dizzy, then take that as an indication that you have not eaten enough and you need to have something as soon as possible. Whether or not your diet has you counting calories, you should have a rough idea of how many calories you are consuming on a daily basis, and that this number is appropriate for your body (based on gender, size and activity level).
Obsessive dieting can also lead to an excess of weight loss or an eating disorder. It’s important that your target weight is in the healthy range for your height and that you do not attempt to go lower. A challenge for many successful dieters is maintaining their goal weight without gaining some weight back, or continuing to lose weight. Once you reach your goal weight, then go “off” the diet, and follow the principles of healthy and intuitive eating. For example, you might not want to go out for a burger and fries as soon as your reach your goal weight, but you also shouldn’t feel like you can’t snack on pretzels should the urge strike.
The key thing to remember is that your diet ought to enhance your life– not interfere with your ability to enjoy it. The ultimate goal of dieting is to boost your confidence and improve your health. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important when you are consumed by calorie-counting and the number on the scale.