• Emma Green

Why I changed my mind about flexible dieting

I used to be an advocate for ‘flexible dieting’. I thought that everyone pursuing health and fitness goals should be tracking their macros and there were no possible downsides to knowing exactly what you were eating. I changed my mind. I saw people becoming anxious about eating foods they couldn’t calculate, I saw people feeling guilty if they didn’t track their macros for a day and I saw people being obsessed with finding ‘macro friendly foods’ that they could plug into Myfitnesspal. I realised that it wasn’t really that flexible at all. When I started studying for my PhD focusing on diabetes self-care, I saw all the research showing that young people were at greater risk of eating disorders because of weighing and measuring their food each day. I also looked at the literature on dietary restraint. So called ‘restrained eaters’ (those who have rules about food) don’t fare well. These people are less healthy, physically and mentally, even those labelled as having ‘flexible dietary restraint.’ Some people may be able to track calories/macros without it adversely affecting them. However, I’m no longer happy to promote that because I don’t feel comfortable with it ethically or from an evidence-based perspective. I realise that’s an ‘out there’ standpoint in the fitness industry but I’m okay with that.

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