Why do people start diets in the New Year?
The festive season is a period of rest and relaxation for a lot of people. It’s a time to unwind with loved ones, as well as enjoy delicious food. This can cause people to feel guilty for ‘overindulging’ and feeling like they’ve put on weight. As a result, as soon as the New Year strikes, they’re looking for instant, dramatic results to shift the weight they’ve gained, with a diet seeming like a ‘quick fix’.
Fitness expert Penny Weston says that in January she often finds people starting ‘crash diets’, which tend to be unhealthy with unrealistic, unsustainable results.
She says people tend to start diets at the start as opposed to the middle of the year, because they regard the new year as ‘a time for change’.
“People often feel more motivated to make lifestyle changes in the New Year after reflecting on the past 12 months and setting goals for the year to come. People make New Year’s resolutions that involve diet and fitness in a bid to overhaul their looks or overall health.”
Examples of New Year diets may include:
It’s common for people to also sign up to weight loss programmes, such as Weight Watchers (WW), or join health coaching and calorie tracking apps, such as Noom.
Are diets started in the new year actually sustainable, or are they destined to fail?
Typically, people tend to last a few months on a diet – even less if it’s really strict. One problem with this, however, is people view ‘giving up’ on their diet as a form of failure. They believe that they have failed at the diet, rather than the diet failing them and their bodies. This leads to an endless pursuit of the ‘perfect diet’.
Weston adds that dieters tend to lose momentum as they gradually realise how unsustainable their diet is.
“People usually slip back into old habits when they aren’t getting the correct balance of nutrients to keep them feeling full and energised. They then start snacking and eating calorific foods again, proceeding to punish themselves for not having the ‘willpower’ to diet, even though the diet wasn’t built to last in the first place,” she says.
“Whether or not New Year diets are actually sustainable depends largely on the diet itself, rather than the time of year it’s started. I believe that fad and crash diets are always destined to fail, no matter the time of year.”
A ‘crash diet’ is a weight-loss diet undertaken on a short-term basis with a sense of urgency, as a person aims for rapid results. While crash dieting can provide short-term results by cutting calories, there are a lot of health problems with this approach to weight loss.
The issues with crash diets
They make you hungry
If you are drastically cutting down your calorie intake to an amount your body isn’t used to, it will only make you more hungry. This can lead to episodes of binge eating and cravings for the specific foods you are depriving yourself of (much like, when you’re a child and your parents …….