I’ve had many people come to me saying diets don’t work for them, or they did work for a while, but eventually failed. If this sounds like you, you’re not the only one. A study by UCLA found that “People on diets typically lose 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight in the first six months. However, at least one- third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years, and the true number may well be significantly higher.”
Plain and simple, dieting does not work. When I talk to my clients I try my very best to not even use the word. Dieting is way too restrictive and not sustainable. The way to a sustainable, healthy, and balanced diet has to start with changing habits to make better choices, not restricting yourself to certain foods.
When most people start a diet, their whole routine is changed. Don't eat kale and quinoa now? Well odds are most new diets are going to tell you that you do now. You’ll also probably be told to cut out sugar (sugar, sweets, candy) and fats (all of them, low fat everything from now on). And oh yea, also start drinking fruit smoothies and herbal tea (looking at you FitTea) in the morning. Now I know each “healthy” diet you see out there is going to vary a little bit, but at their core they all are going to be based on the same principles. I want to show you how these fad diet rules are no way to live and can’t be sustainable, and instead show what habits are easy to change for life-long nutritious eating.
First diet rule, load up on all the trendy health foods like kale and quinoa. My philosophy on this is simple. If you didn't eat kale and quinoa before, you’re probably not going to want to start now. If you don't like it, don't eat it. But if you’re curious want to try it, go ahead. But if this new food upsets your stomach, don't eat it. It's that easy. (Quick side note, definitely don’t eat kale raw, its awful for your body raw!) Most nutritionists will live by the fact that if its green or comes from the ground (aka healthy) you need it. But it’s important to listen to your body, it will tell you what makes it feel good.
Second diet rule, (ok this is the one point I’ll agree with the diets on) is to cut sugars. If you have read my other blog posts, you know all the dangers of sugar. As a nutritional coach I would ideally tell all my clients to stop right away, but as a human I understand that it’s nearly impossible to go from 0-100. Just as a drug addict struggles to go 0-100, neither can most people with sugar (yes, sugar is as addictive as some drugs). It takes time. This is a big contributor as to why diets don’t work. Such drastic changes to your eating habits may work for a few days, but when your cravings take over and break the diet rules many feel as if they have failed and give up their diet altogether.
Third diet rule, cut out all fats. Don't do this! Your body and brain need fat for everything. You will run out of energy very quickly if you cut fats. Your brain will feel tired and sluggish, and you need your brain to make rational decisions and to have will power when it comes to that that “Do I or do I not take that cookie in the break room” decision. If you cut out fats, you will have an even harder time cutting out the sugar. With that said, it’s important that you are keeping healthy fats in your diet.
Fourth diet rule, have a fruit smoothie for breakfast. I can’t stress enough of how this is just setting yourself up for failure for the rest of the day. Starting the day with sugar and carbs, guarantees you will have sugar and carb cravings for the rest of the day. Your greedy brain gets a taste of the sweet sugar in the morning and will want more. “Healthy sugars” or not, all your brain tastes is the sweetness. I advise my clients to avoid fruit in the morning, ESPECIALLY juicing. Juicing eliminates all the fiber from the fruit/vegetable and just leaves the sugars. You need fiber to help break down and digest food, so why take it out?
All of the above rules are not only miserable to try, but to do forever? For the rest of your life? Pretty much impossible. It’s human nature to want things as soon as possible. People are looking for quick fixes to lose weight fast, I get that. But did it take you a month to gain that extra weight you’re trying to lose? Odds are no. It takes time, patience and work to reach goals.
As I stated from the UCLA study earlier, dieters usually lose 5-10% in the first 6 months. Any changes you make to your lifestyle are going to produce results. But a lifetime of eating salads? I’m a vegan nutritional coach, and even I hate the idea of that. You can't diet for 6 months, lose weight, and not expect to maintain the weight loss, or it all just comes right back.
When I help people with nutrition counseling, I look at the big picture. What can we do that will work for you, not only now, but for the rest of your life? What can we substitute and add, instead of subtract and restrict? If you like chips and dip, what can we replace that with? This is how I help. When I put together nutrition plans, the plans are logical, easy to follow, and fit right into their life style. If my clients eat lunch on the road 9/10 times, I’ll help figure out a way to make healthier choices and maybe cut down to 5/10 times. Simple changes like these are easy to implement and I can show you where to start.