Did you know that the diet industry is a 20 billion dollar industry annually? Each year the media, doctors, nutritionists, your average joe, and celebrities endorse diets claiming them to be the most effective and promise grandiose results. If you are someone struggling with your health or weight you will be tempted to try one, maybe even four! In my studies to become a Registered Dietitian I learned that the average American makes four weight loss attempts per year and only 8% of those people actually find a diet that sticks with them long term (2+ years). As you begin to look into why a majority of American’s are unable to find a solution to their health/weight management problems they usually respond with, “it was too hard.” When you think about it a lot of these diets are actually super easy, they often take the “guess work” out of it. When you start a diet found on the internet or recommended by a friend it’s usually something that eliminates certain food groups, replaces meals/snacks with bars/shakes, or tell you what to eat and when. If you ask me I think that is pretty easy, however I get why someone won’t stick to it long-term… it doesn’t leave room for human error and when a person falls off from their diet they feel like a failure and decide to quit because they weren’t given alternative guidelines to follow.
Here’s the thing, if you meet with a Registered Dietitian (RD) about your eating habits, most of them won’t provide a cookie cutter explanation on what, when, and how much you should be eating. Instead most RD’s will review what you are currently consuming on a regular basis and suggest swaps or modifications that are realistic and sustainable for you. Everyone has different likes/dislikes of food, allergies/intolerance’s, work/life schedules, skills/abilities related to cooking/exercise, and more importantly…desire to change. This can be frustrating for someone who’s looking to make change quickly, but let me ask you this: it took years to form these poor lifestyle habits so what makes you think it will only take days to break them? At the end of the day, these diets don’t work unless you do so when you are reviewing them, make sure you are choosing something that you can stick to. Here’s a list of things to look for when trying to spot a fad diet:
- They eliminate whole food groups (no carbs, protein, or fat).
- They require skipping meals or replacing most meals with shakes/bars/juices.
- They limit calories to under 1200 (females) or 1500 calories (males).
- They claim addition of one pill, powder, food, or regimen will make you better without having to make any other changes (ie. no vegetables/exercise).
- It says it is for anyone!
Disappointed that after reading this list you’re reconsidering the diet you were going to start on Monday? No worries, I have the healthy lifestyle recipe for you! Here are a few things you can do to get you started.
- Decide you are going to commit: start with slow, healthy changes over time and make an effort to stick to this new way of life even if thrown off track!
- Include more whole foods: keep processed foods to a minimum. Rule of thumb…if you can’t understand the words on the back of the ingredient list, swap it out!
- Limit foods with added sugar, salt, and fat: fried foods, juice, soda, sauces and gravies should be consumed sparingly. If you are currently having one or more of those items on a daily basis, start to decrease to every other day, then once per week, until eventually once per month or special occasion!
- Work on maintaining a healthy weight: eat more than 1200 calories per day (for adequate energy and to prevent nutrient deficiencies and keep the metabolism functioning in your favor), but no more than your body is is burning. Not sure how many calories your body needs? You can calculate it here.
- Be active: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults perform 150 minutes of moderate-intense physical activity per week and should include 2 or more days of strength-training exercises that incorporate all of the major muscle groups. This may seem like a lot to some so I recommend starting slow and gradually build the duration, frequency, and/or intensity. If you are not medically cleared by a doctor to exercise then consider doing other things to benefit your health.
- Get support: Although you are capable of committing to a healthy lifestyle on your own, it will be much easier to do when you have people in your corner. Join my free healthy lifestyle support group on Facebook, look into my services for weekly accountability and daily check-ins, or find a healthy eating/weight management support group in your area!
As you hear about more and more diets, you will get confused and question what diet you should be following. I am challenging you to forget about what you think you know and instead commit to what we do know, which is that healthy eating and exercise will lead to a healthier you. There are no short cuts, quick fixes, magic pills or solutions behind it. If there was, would they keep coming out with them?
If you are having issues deciding how to get started, send me an e-mail at TipsWithToni@gmail.com so I can help you further!
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