Some of the best news I’ve read in a long time came out in July and didn’t make the headlines. But good news it is indeed. According to “The diet industry is dying as a new mentality takes hold in America” (Business Insider, Mallory Schlossberg, 7/10/16), Americans are shifting from a diet mentality to a healthy mentality. If you’ve stopped joining diet/weight-loss programs or buying “weight-loss” foods, you’re a part of making this happen and should be proud of yourself for taking part in this sea change.
It appears that counting calories and deprivation are on their way out, and a focus on eating for health is moving in. An October 2015 report from the market research firm Mintel noted “the diet industry faces downward pressure as US adults also remain skeptical of the ingredients in diet-specific products and their effectiveness in managing weight…Though calorie restriction remained the most popular methodology of dieting, one of the three most important factors that consumers looked for in determining whether they would use a diet plan was whether it encouraged ‘long term healthy habits’…Instead of adopting restrictive diets, consumers now understand that an informed regimen provides our bodies with the protein and fuel it needs.”
The article describes two strains of thinking about eating: those who still want to diet and those who seek better health. Unsurprisingly, the diet group focuses on restricting and quantifying food, including “using synthetic alternatives to fat and sugar” to reach this end. The “balanced health” group focuses on choosing foods that promote health, not harm it, are interested in “wellness and nutrition versus restriction and deprivation,” and understand that health comes in many diverse sizes.
It sounds as if people are moving toward taking more responsibility for their bodies and not depending on some program or plan to tell them what, how, and how much to eat. Of course, human nature being what it is, many people might now go to extremes of healthy eating, eschewing high-fat, high-sugar, and high-calorie foods and always eating clean, a potential recipe for disaster. My fear is that, former committed dieters will now police their food for health and remain as rigid as they were when they were counting calories. Still, on the whole, I applaud this move away from the diet mentality.
Perhaps Americans are reaching a tipping point on the value of calorie restriction and eating solely for weight loss. This has been my dream for over three decades, so I certainly hope so. But, I’m not getting out the party favors yet. I’ll wait and see.