Is Your Healthy Lifestyle Actually a Restrictive Diet?

Is Your Healthy Lifestyle Actually a Diet in Disguise? |

Top expert tips to keep in mind when you see a new diet. You’ll be ready to determine whether a new diet will make you healthier or not.

OMG I’m getting sick of hearing about people defending their restrictive eating habits and calling them a ‘lifestyle’ yeah, sure you’re not eating gluten or dairy, and you’ve been doing it for 3 weeks, it’s your lifestyle, and you’re being told it’s healthy. ha! sorry to burst your bubble, but that clearly fits within the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of ‘diet’-

Diet: a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

Please, for all things holy and good, keep an eye out for these 5 red flags of a diet that’s parading as a lifestyle

  1. Your lifestyle means that you cut out certain foods…. that you like (not because you’ve been diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance), but because they’re ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’ or make you unhealthy.
  2. your lifestyle means that you cut out whole food groups. Since when does a protein in wheat (ahem GLUTEN!!!) make you fat? I mean really!
  3. you’re feeling hungry, and that’s considered virtuous in your lifestyle
  4. Your lifestyle means that you drink a shake for meals…. and it’s not because you just had oral surgery or can’t sit down to eat anything
  5. Your lifestyle means that you buy proprietary weird foods like bee pollan or dietary supplements.

Why am I so anti-diet?

  • Dieting (in a restrictive way) leads to binging.
  • Dieting doesn’t lead to long term weight loss, or positive health outcomes-long term.
  • Dieting isn’t empowering, this whole concept of willpower is complete BS. Willpower = restriction, restriction leads to binging and feeling badly about yourself. Feeling badly about yourself does nothing to encourage healthy habits. It’s not motivating in the long run.
  • Long term calorie restriction –> slowed metabolism. Most people want to be able to eat more, not less.

Please note that certain medical conditions, food allergies, and diagnosed intolerances warrant a particular diet to manage these conditions and that’s beneficial. Also, certain individual religious beliefs, personal ethics and environmental concerns also would warrant people to follow a particular diet. But what I’m getting at with these red flags is to identify any diet that requires followers to cut out foods they like or foods without any medical necessity. We, as humans like (and sometimes need) to have the autonomy to make our own decisions. Having someone else (a diet) tell us what we need to do to be happy & healthy, while bringing into question our own willpower, or self love, or our health is an issue particularly when those decisions don’t align with what we enjoy. These factors don’t lead to pleasure in any lifestyle activities and therefore long term maintenance becomes really hard or impossible. Willpower in terms of making food choice is BS. Having the willpower to overcome your cravings and food preferences is often miserable, and how on earth does living a miserable life (because let’s face it we need to eat multiple times/day and that = life) make us healthy or happy?


With all that said, is there a new healthy lifestyle that you’re looking into, or have followed that seemed healthy?

Instead of reaching out to a restrictive diet to get healthy, or like yourself, instead, work to feel comfortable in your skin. Here’s a link to my free workbook to help you feel comfortable in your skin.

What do you think about these tips? I’d love to hear which you’ve seen, and which you think are great, and maybe which wouldn’t helpful for you.


  1. Christina Bauer

    May 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I appreciate the post on a controversial topic! I, too, think that dieting is bad (now that I’ve lived and learned). However, I think your red flags are a bit broad to be considered dieting. Case in point: I cut out all meat products 3+ years ago, initially to lose weight, but then also because I felt physically better (energy levels up, better sleep, clearer skin, etc.). Just two months ago, I cut out dairy because i suspected it was causing me too many tummy troubles – more trouble than it was worth to enjoy a chunk of 5- year aged Wisconsin cheddar. I don’t anticipate putting dairy back into my diet either. So, those are indeed lifestyle choices, but under your definitions, they would be considered diets. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

    • Rebecca

      May 18, 2017 at 8:17 am

      Hi Christina, great point! I totally agree, I’ll add a bit about internal vs external factors here because that’s the difference. I’m wary (in general) of any diet that requires their followers to cut out foods or certain food groups. My concern comes from the general fact that restriction leads to binging because we all just want what we can’t have, right?! But for you and some others who may have changed their eating habits to improve energy levels, to comply with their morals (particularly with religious, ethics regarding animals, and the environment) that’s not the worry. You make these changes to feel better consciously or physically. The key is do you miss that food and want nothing more than to eat it again? AND if you’re faced with that food in a moment of tiredness or whatever-how do you naturally react? Do you avoid it and feel no regret, do you eat a little and feel satisfied, or do you feel like you’re at your last supper & eat as much as you possibly can because you haven’t been able to eat it for a long time and you know you won’t be able to have it again. Pretty much, deep down we want the ability to make our own choices and feel satisfaction and pleasure from eating. On another note, I’ve noticed clients mistake consistent tummy troubles for intolerances. In no way am I saying you would fit into this category, but we all want answers and cutting out certain foods seems easier and just as helpful as addressing the stress or other factors that could be causing our digestive issues. But that’s a whole other topic right there! Again, thanks for bringing this up! We need to be able to talk openly and frankly about these things, and that includes concerns from all sides of the issue.

  2. Mandy Enright

    May 17, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Loving this reminder that preaching about everything you DON’T eat doesn’t mean you follow a healthy eating pattern!

    • Rebecca

      May 18, 2017 at 8:06 am

      amen! Thanks Mandy 🙂

  3. Farrah

    May 19, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    This is such an important topic!! Thank you for addressing those red flags–I talk to a lot of patients who say they’re making healthy changes and end up doing something like this, so I like spending some time counseling them on healthy lifestyle changes vs. “dieting.”

    • Rebecca

      May 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      oh man it comes up everywhere! Thank you for promoting healthy lifestyles vs dieting in the medical field! We need more of that

  4. Anne|Craving Something Healthy

    May 19, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    You always have such good, sensible advice! The one “food group” I’m in favor of cutting out is dessert at home – If it’s in my house, I can’t stop until it’s gone 🙂

    • Rebecca

      May 23, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      haha! it’s so helpful to find what works for you individually 🙂

  5. Jessica

    May 25, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    I absolutely agree with your reasons for being anti-diet.

    • Rebecca

      May 26, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Thanks Jessica! I know, right?!

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  8. Jeremy Stone

    June 7, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Diet IS NOT a lifestyle. A lifestyle should incorporate not only what you eat, but also how you live your life: keeping yourself stress-free, how you interact with others, your daily routine – that’s what the definition of lifestyle is. Diet, on the other hand, is your “eating lifestyle”. So please, stop comparing diet and lifestyle. Diet and lifestyle are two different things. Lifestyle: the way in which a person or group lives. Diet: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. So when you read about a “healthy lifestyle” guide that only incorporates foods, no, it’s not a lifestyle but a diet.

    • Rebecca

      June 8, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      well, thank you for stopping by! I agree the two are different, but that’s way too broad for one blog post on Nourish. The point of this post is to tackle the issue with ‘healthy lifestyles’ being promoted as healthy & NOT diets, when they are clearly diets because they focus on restriction-whether it’s restricting random vegetables, carbs, or whatever else.

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  10. James

    August 1, 2017 at 1:28 am

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  11. Bariatric Eating

    September 10, 2017 at 2:05 am

    This is an inspiring article. If people just look it in another perspective you will learn many things and serves as a reminder when you are on a diet. Glad to read this article.


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