Dive into February with a New Year’s Check-in

As January comes to a close, it’s a good time to check in with your New Year’s Resolution. How is it working? Has it been a beneficial addition to your life? Whether or not they notice it, most people have tossed their resolutions to the side by the end of January. However, depending on your goal, this may be the best thing that could have happened. After a few weeks of large and indulgent holiday meals, many people choose to start the new year with a new clean-eating resolution. A recent poll by Insider magazine asked participants about their resolutions and found that around 40% had goals that were related to healthier eating or dieting. Of those 40%, half of the diets mentioned involved calorie restriction and low-carb diets.
The Commons Healthy Eating and Wellness Society (CHEWS) theme of the month is Jump-Start January—named as such partially because many people believe that this new diet will “jump-start” their year; healthier eating will lead to other healthy choices in life, or possibly counteract previous unhealthy choices. While the staff of CHEWS certainly does acknowledge balanced meals may improve physical indicators of health, it may not target some of the root causes of “unhealthy” decisions.
The idea of trying to eat healthier is not bad in and of itself, but it can become dangerous when dieting is equated with health. For example, low carb diets may involve cutting out food items that may be high in carbs but are also high in nutrients—foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Low carb diets may also negatively affect athletic performance and lead to short-term weight loss rather than any significant weight and lifestyle changes. Calorie restrictive diets come with similar pitfalls.
Calorie counting can lead to an obsessive and unhealthy focus on the number of calories one eats, rather than the quality of said calorie. Insider Magazine provides a great example when comparing pretzels and almonds; while pretzels have fewer calories, almonds have more protein, fiber, and healthier fats. Any diet will come with some positives as well as potential negatives.
Nevertheless, regardless of the advertised merits of any diet it is important to understand what the short-term and long-term effects of that diet will be on your health.