The Difference Between Healthy Eating and Dieting
Have you seen the recent news stories about public schools measuring the body mass index (BMI) of students? Whether you agree with the government’s methodology or not, the idea behind BMI screening is to help ward off weight-related problems in adulthood by finding a way to manage weight in childhood. Measuring BMI can be both good and bad as evidenced by the difference between healthy eating and dieting.
There are numerous ways to lose weight, whether one is overweight or obese. Among them are establishing healthy eating habits and dieting. Rest assured that the two are not the same. Healthy eating is a long-term strategy that sets the person up for a healthier life while dieting is a short-term strategy that is only effective for as long as the diet is maintained.
Why Choose Healthy Eating?
The concept of developing healthy eating habits goes above and beyond just weight maintenance, according to WebMD’s Dr. Catherine Brookings. I agree wholeheartedly.
In order to develop healthy eating habits, one must first understand what the body requires from a nutritional standpoint in order to maintain optimal health. That understanding motivates a person to look at eating as more than just a process of ingesting calories and hoping the body will burn them off. The benefit of healthy eating from a weight maintenance standpoint is that it is a lot easier to manage your weight when you are eating the right kinds of foods in the right quantities.
Food selections can also include some of those ‘bad’ foods from time to time if a person understands the concept of volume. In this respect, developing healthy eating habits means there is none of that self-punishment that comes with dieting. A person can learn to eat good food in appropriate volumes that can include a reward or indulgence every now and again.
Does Dieting Have Its Place?
We believe developing healthy eating habits is a far better alternative to dieting. Yet that does not mean dieting does not have an appropriate place in weight maintenance. As just one example, someone who is morbidly obese may benefit from an immediate diet to get the weight loss started while at the same time learning to develop healthy eating habits. Losing weight by dieting can provide the kind of motivation the person needs to stick with the healthy eating habits that are learned.
What most of us agree is bad about dieting is that it tends to lead to that up-and-down yo-yo process. This is that well-known scenario where a person will diet to take off 20 to 40 extra pounds, reach the ideal weight, and then return to the old eating habits and lack of exercise that led to the excessive weight in the first place. All of that weight returns and necessitates another diet.
This yo-yo approach to maintaining weight is neither physically nor mentally healthy. It creates an unstable situation for the body inasmuch as it does not allow the metabolism, and many of the body’s other systems, to establish a lifelong routine that leads to good health. Furthermore, yo-yo dieting tends to result in a continual trend of imbalanced nutrition. This is also not healthy.
As far as mental health is concerned, yo-yo dieting can lead to all sorts of issues, including depression and anxiety. It can eventually lead to eating disorders in some people.
Developing healthy eating habits is far better than dieting. We recommend it for individuals who want to both manage their weight and live an overall healthier lifestyle.