Ditch The Diets, Change Your Life!

It is time for us to have a better relationship with food!

With the new year comes resolutions, motivation, and hope that we can make positive changes in our lives. For a lot of us, that means losing weight, being more active, and eating healthier. All of this is excellent, starting with a clean slate, and ambition! But year after year, we have to recommit to the same resolutions and goals as years past. So, what goes wrong? Why are we stuck in a never-ending cycle? We follow all of the latest information and available diets, paleo, keto, carb-free, yet we always end up exactly where we started or worse! For all of the good intentions, we keep falling into the same trap; the “diet” trap. The word “diet” shouldn’t be a bad word, and it wasn’t always; it merely means “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” Unfortunately, we are creatures of habit. When we pick a new diet, instead of choosing a program and lifestyle that aligns with our values, we want a temporary solution that aligns with our goals and requires the least amount of change to our current lifestyle and habits.

ditch the diets, longterm weightloss

This is where the problem arises; we focus solely on our goals, and not on our habits. 

Having a strong desire to be successful is helpful and admirable, but it leads many dieters to the latest craze, the newest diet that promises the most extreme results with the least amount of adaptation. And instead of making the meaningful and lasting lifestyle change that we set out to make, we send ourselves down a path of metabolic destruction. Look at the definition of the word “diet” again, “Habitually” is in the description, it is our first hint that for real long-term success, we should focus on long term habit change over the instant gratification of “fad diets.”  The sad truth is that most research shows that dieters almost always regain any lost weight over time. Which, on the one hand, is to be expected, you will gain weight as you age. But research also shows that on average, people who go on a diet end up heaver five years later than people of the same initial weight who didn’t diet. Because this extreme focus on our goals, without changes to our habits, is the cause of the endless diet cycle, we create a lifestyle that is impossible to maintain. This constant struggle to maintain a diet and the resulting failures worsens an already negative relationship with food. And that’s the scary part, if you need to lose weight to be healthy, what are your options if even dieting is unhealthy.  The answer is we need to change our relationship with food, a positive outlook matched with a realistic understanding of what we are eating, why we are eating it, and how it is affecting our bodies.

The five best tips for changing your mindset from temporary diets to long-term lifestyle change.

1. Start with slow change and make it consistent

        • Significant changes to your diet regime affect your ability to recognize the body’s signals of hunger. This inability can lead to emotional eating and subsequent overeating.

2. Understand the underlying triggers that drive us to make unhealthy choices. 

        • What triggers drive us to eat, overeat, or to crave foods high in calories, sugar, salt, or fat. They call them comfort foods for a reason!
          • Do you crave specific foods when you are upset or depressed?
          • Do you ever snack without realizing you’re even doing it?
          • Do you often feel guilty or ashamed after eating?
          • Do you eat even when you’re not physically hungry?

3. Change your habits, change your life!

        • Replacing unhealthy habits with productive habits is the key to long term change, and the ability to maintain results.

4. Eat real food & enjoy it.

        • Everything you eat matters. The key is choosing a variety of foods and beverages from each of the food groups and making sure the choices are limited in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. 
        • Every food and beverage you consume is broken down into macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and water. Every nutrient serves an essential role in the body, which is why it’s so important to have a nutrient-rich and balanced diet.
        • Research shows that the most successful component of the foods you eat for both weight loss and nutrition consists of “real foods.” These are plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, as well as meats (ideally, from animals that ate plants). 
        • Minimize processed foods, including sugars and flours. 

5. Find success in your struggles

      • If you have a few days of unhealthy eating. You miss the gym. Whatever it is. Do not let a speed bump stop you. No one is perfect, and trying to be will lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed or defeated. Focus on finding your success today and tomorrow. If you struggled yesterday, learn from it and keep going. This is a lifestyle change; you only fail if you stop trying.