The functioning of the human body, and the mind, has fascinated me since about 1960. I have been soaking up every piece of information I could on topics related to that rather vast area since then.
Along the way, I have become aware that many people, experts and amateurs alike, tend to fall into the same trap when it comes to health-related topics, such as dieting, weight loss, fitness, and so on.
So many seem to concentrate on one small portion of the spectrum of health.
This is bad, at least in my mind, because, while each of these discrete topics and discussions deal with something which impacts the overall health of the individual, they often overlook that impact.
I can understand this, as even I find that it is difficult to address all the various components of life, and their impact on future health and happiness, in small articles…or even large books. In fact, life, a happy and healthy one, is actually such a broad topic that you could build an entire college course around it. Even then, it would be necessary for someone who ‘completed’ the course to continue to learn because of the immense amount of knowledge already available, and the new discoveries constantly coming to the forefront.
In a small way, I try to combat the narrowness of each small component of life which I may discuss by trying to look at it and discuss it from the viewpoint of how it can contribute to a longer, healthier life.
This is one reason why, when I write articles about how to lose weight, I typically avoid the subject of dieting for weight loss. In most cases, dieting is usually a short-term solution to a weight loss need and is usually only effective in helping the individual lose a few pounds…most of which often return in the very near future. I have also pointed out in other articles that ‘going on a diet’ in order to lose weight can actually be counterproductive, interfering with health and sometimes even contributing to weight gain.
Another reason I generally avoid touting dieting for weight loss is that I tend to believe in doing things that have a positive and permanent impact on health.
Your body needs a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats (Yes, I said ‘fats’!), fiber, and phytonutrients to remain healthy…for a long time! These nutrients come from the food you eat, and a ‘diet’, by its very nature, deprives your body of the very substances it needs to remain healthy, active, and in a permanent weight management mode.
When you diet for weight loss, you either stop eating in general, or you drastically restrict your intake of food. Either way, you are tampering with the natural balance of nutrients your body needs.
Ever hear of the ‘Grapefruit Diet’, the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, or the ‘Atkins Diet’?
It is bad enough that people blindly follow diets such as these, which are often based, usually fairly loosely, on real nutritional science, but it is even worse that they also follow them ignorantly.
No insult intended, ‘ignorant’ means ‘without knowledge’, not necessarily ‘stupid’.
After all, they went to an ‘expert’ for guidance. He, or she, said, ‘Here! Eat this for weight loss’, and they followed the guidance they were given.
The truth is that most of these diets are at best nutritionally deficient in one way or another, and, if followed faithfully long enough to actually result in weight loss, will also result in a negative impact on health due to poorly balanced nutrition. Fortunately, most people will fall off the diet wagon long before that. Unfortunately, if they stay with it long enough before falling off, they may alter their body’s metabolism enough that they gain even more weight when they do stop.
Even more bothersome, however, is that most people never really learn how the entire diet works, or is supposed to work.
In the original grapefruit diet, for example, grapefruit is supposed to be eaten with other foods, at least allowing for almost a balanced diet. Many people who hear about the grapefruit diet from neighbors or co-workers believe that they are supposed to ‘only’ grapefruit.
You can take most of the most famous diets and find the same thing.
The Atkins diet, for example, actually has several levels and stages the dieter is supposed to go through and actually allows, at least over time, for a fairly broad range of foods. I have personally known people who were absolutely certain that being on the Atkins diet meant that all you ever ate was meat!
Restricting your nutritional options in order to lose weight has built in health risks.
Restricting your nutritional options ignorantly and blindly in the pursuit of weight loss, which is usually ‘healthier’, but not if overall health suffers due to malnutrition, can create health risks which can lead to a loss of whatever mental and physical health you may already enjoy.
Weight loss science has shown over and over again that permanent healthy weight loss depends on a combination of regular physical activity, i.e. exercise, and proper nutrition. Proper nutrition is necessary for a long and healthy life.
While ‘proper nutrition’ may mean changing some food choices and exercising portion control, it does not mean cutting deeply into, and upsetting the balance of, the nutritional assets (food), which provided vitamins, minerals, and so many other nutrients which can actually help with weight loss.