One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions people make is to lose weight. People do this by working out, going to the gym, but most often by going on diets.

Unfortunately, most people don’t understand the difference between healthy eating and dieting. I don’t mean diet in terms of the series of foods a person eats, but the foods a person limits themselves to for the purpose of losing weight.

Healthy eating is providing your body with the nutrients it needs, and doing so usually keeps you from being too hungry or overeating. Dieting is a deprivation of food.

At my job, I’ve heard customers speak about various diets that sound insane just so they can look fit for formal events. One trend they told me about was an oat diet where they ate nothing but oats for two weeks. There was a similar egg diet, a smoothie diet and then there is simply eating mere bites of food a day.

Dieting is bad for you for what should be obvious reasons. The weight you lose is water weight, not fat, therefore you can become dehydrated. Because of the sudden change of food intake, your digestive system gets messed with. You will also become malnourished and tired.

The things we eat affect nearly everything about us — our moods, sleeping patterns, motivation, mental health and, of course, our physical health.

The point is, you shouldn’t want to lose weight, you should just want to be healthy. You can be 300 pounds and still be healthy. There are people who are the perfect weight for their age and height, yet they still call themselves fat or want to lose weight.

If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or be healthier, there are things you can do that don’t involve diet fads.

First, you could join a gym. Paying for the monthly gym membership can motivate you to actually use it. If you are not fond of the gym, simply eating well for your specific body type is enough to at least keep you healthy.

There are several apps that can assist you with keeping track of your eating and exercising habits. One of those apps is Lifesum, a free app where you can tell it your goal, weight, age and height, and it will give you a set number of calories you should take in everyday. You can type in any exact food when you eat, even the brand, and it will look it up and calculate the calories for you. Similar apps include MyPlate and MyFitnessPal.

There’s always the rule of “everything in moderation.” If you feel like you have to ban a type of food, the best thing to ban is desserts and sodas. Remember, natural sugars aren’t bad for you. A good rule of thumb is if the food grows from the ground, it’s healthy for you.

What’s not good for you is starving yourself. If you’re worried about fitting into a dress, just exchange the dress for the correct size.

Last year when my freshman-15 hit, which was more like the freshman-30, I finally became the weight that a person of my height and age should be, but I felt overweight because of how quickly I gained that weight. I was even asked if I was pregnant. I was tempted to go on a diet so that I could fit into my high school clothes.

We’ve been conditioned to think that if we aren’t skinny then we’re not healthy, but slowly we’re coming to the realization that our health isn’t dependent on what we look like, but what we eat.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

@TheChrony

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