November 3, 2016

If you read enough “health” headlines, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there is no point trying to lose weight because diets are doomed to fail, and any weight lost will be regained.

What a load of baloney!

There are a million different ways to diet, of course, and some of these are most certainly doomed to fail. Any diet which dramatically cuts calories and leaves you hungry, low in energy, and feeling deprived will certainly fail in the long term. Sure, you might lose some weight, but if the diet is not sustainable then it’s obvious what will happen.

Any diet based around foods which are difficult to find and/or prepare will fail.

Diets that replace meals with shakes or with prepared meals will fail: you just get sick of the same thing all the time.

Any diet that requires constant counting – of calories, grams, or macros – will fail.

Any “quick-fix” diet will fail.

So far, the ‘baloney’ comment is looking shaky. Not so fast…

For dieting success, there are 7 factors that must be in place:

  1. You eat ‘normal’ foods that are easily available and prepared, eaten by family and friends, and are un- or minimally-processed.
  2. You learn how to incorporate the eating plan into your lifestyle. Spending three hours in the kitchen won’t work for most people, nor will cooking a meal for the family and another for you. Activating nuts or making sauerkraut may be great, but if you’ve never done it before you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the demands on your time and expertise, and so will stop. Consider the current demands on your time and expertise, and then adopt some dietary changes that fit in.
  3. It takes time for your food choices to become habits that are totally normal for you. You must allow for that from the start. There will be some ups and downs, some mistakes and deviations, and some times when you question the importance of your goals. This is where a good support network is essential in encouraging and helping you to get back on track.
  4. Focus on the foods that you can have rather than what you can’t. Really think about the deliciousness of a well-cooked steak, some asparagus with butter, or the delights of strawberries with cream. What you think about is what you want, so thinking about a jam donut will make you want it and feel deprived at not having it. Then if your willpower drops, what do you eat?
  5. Celebrate your successes along the way. A success may be small, like saying no to cake at a work morning tea, or huge like returning from a two-week cruise lighter than when you departed. The positive reinforcement really helps establish good choices.
  6. Instead of focusing on the number on the scales, focus on health, wellness and lifestyle goals as well as weight.
  7. Fixating on a particular date or weight for “success” often means that you don’t have a plan beyond that success. The idea that “I reached my goal, now I can go back to normal” will definitely see weight regained.