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Lifestyles

How to not fail your next diet

Posted September 25

What do you think of when you hear the words diet, healthy and exercise? Do you think, “ugh” or “I better be a sloth for a couple days” or do you think “energizing, health, wellness?”

Chances are, if you think negative thoughts about those words, you’ve had not so awesome experiences with dieting and exercise in the past. In general, the words “diet” and “exercise” have a negative connotation. They bring up feelings that don’t lead you to want to participate for a long time, or even a short time. Is this why diets don’t work for 95 percent of people who diet?

Dieting is woven into today’s society, especially for women. We’re continuously striving for that elusive perfect body. We’re told that our self-esteem, our happiness and our success is dependent on how we look. Today, it’s totally normal within American female society to dislike or hate your body. One body image researcher even went so far as to say that disliking your body is part of being a woman. What? Unfortunately, it all makes sense when coupled with the fact that 42 percent first- and third-grade girls have been on a diet, and 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat. These thoughts are deep-seated.

Unfortunately, all of these stats combined present a bleak future for women and their health. Accumulating fat is so terrifying to young girls and women that so many resort to a long unhealthy and ineffective life of hating their bodies and constant dieting to change their bodies. Unfortunately, in most cases this diet mentality doesn’t lead to long-term weight control and health. It leads to unhealthy eating behaviors, psychological distress and failure, none of which help you lead a happy and productive life.

But dieting sucks you in, through the high highs of changing your lifestyle and your body, to the lowest of lows that follow after you revert to your former habits and regain all that weight you’d worked so hard to lose. Since it "worked" once, you know it’s going to work again. Either that, or you don’t know of any other solution. But remember that dieting and hating your body is a part of being a woman.

OK, after all this talk about why dieting sucks, and doesn’t work, what can you do to safeguard yourself from dieting that isn’t going to work for you? Here are five questions to ask yourself so you don’t fail at your next diet.

  1. Does this diet require me to cut out whole food groups? Cutting out this and that is so #onfleek. But so not #onfleek for your health. Truth be told, if you’ve been medically diagnosed as having an intolerance or allergy to said food, don’t eat it, just don’t! But if you’ve cut out one to three food groups for the name of health, you’re being tricked. Seriously, so many people are misplacing blame on gluten or dairy when in fact you may feel crappy because you just ate a giant brownie that has both gluten and dairy. Foods are grouped into the food groups because they share similar nutrients that bodies need to function, and all of those nutrients aren’t found in every food. Hence the importance of a varied diet.
  2. Am I required to deprive myself from foods that I really enjoy? This is simple, you want what you can’t have. The more you can’t have it, the more you want it. This is why young girls who were more likely to diet were also more likely to binge eat and be overweight years later.
  3. Are there gray areas in this diet? All-or-nothing thinking is not beneficial for you. This relates to No. 2. A strict diet that doesn’t allow for indulgences is one that isn’t going to last. Even if you’re not a dessert person, chances are that you really love something that’s high in calories and low in nutrients.
  4. What are the experts saying about this diet? No, not the celebrities, lifestyle "gurus" or doctors that are promoting a specific diet, the actual registered dietitians, who have extensive education in nutrition, behavior change/psychology and physiology. Dietitians understand what your body needs and what you emotionally need. A good dietitian will meet you where you are and won’t require you to completely overhaul your whole life in one fell swoop. And this is good, this sets you up for success.
  5. Does this diet require me to consume supplements? Here’s a short lesson in hard-knocks. Nutritional supplements do not have to be regulated, most aren’t. They’re expensive, and research says that nearly all of them have either no effect on your weight, or a negative effect on your health. Either way, you’re wasting your money and your emotional health on this bit of magic that actually isn’t magic at all. This is just another ploy to take your money and convince you that you have to buy expensive products in order to be successful. If the supplement’s instructions indicate that you use “with diet and exercise” unfortunately, your supplement’s efficacy is hiding behind this claim. If you eat fewer calories and exercise more, science says you’ll lose weight. No magic pills or shakes are needed. This way, you won’t be destined to fail when you run out of money.
Really, the best diet to follow is simple, it doesn’t restrict, and your diet is what you typically eat and enjoy. A health-promoting diet usually consists of each food group and is high in produce and fibrous foods. Check out these other tips to get healthy without dieting. Check out choosemyplate.gov for more info. Or meet with a registered dietitian.

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