After you've been sitting awhile, it feels good to stand. Eventually your body aches to unfurl from the chair: Your muscles announce what they need loud and clear. It works on the flip side, too; when you've been standing for hours, your feet bark for a break.
The same kind of internal cues can apply to eating. After weeks of holiday feasting it feels good - a relief, even - to eat lighter and more healthfully again. We've been eating for pure pleasure and may have gone a bit overboard, so our impulse is to counter with a punishing, hyper-strict diet. It's as if after binge-watching Netflix on the sofa all day, instead of getting up and enjoying a nice, juicy stretch or walk outside, we force ourselves to stand indefinitely in a corner facing the wall.
That culturally ingrained notion that we need to repent after indulging is one reason the diet industry booms in January. Another reason is the social media amplified rallying cry that going keto or paleo or doing some kind of "cleanse" is THE ANSWER. If you feel untethered eating-wise and uncomfortable in your clothes, and if you've sworn to yourself that you'd start getting healthy in January, you are especially vulnerable to the promise of these diets. There are the convincing before-and-after pictures, the rules that seem so comfortingly straightforward, and the tribe of converts ready to welcome you into their fold.
That's the veneer, anyway; the reality behind it is a lot more nuanced. While there are valid rationales for going on certain diets, there are just as many - if not more - for going on no diet at all.
Diets can get you obsessing about things like macro ratios and (ugh!) talking about them at the dinner table (if the plan even allows for dinner at a table) when you could be focusing on the joys of eating good food and engaging in meaningful conversation. The truth is, in the long run, no single plan has proved to be markedly better at keeping you fit than any other.
So instead of punishing yourself in a dietary straitjacket this year, try pivoting in a healthy direction that gives you room to move more freely.