Don’t go on a diet – it doesn’t work in the long run!
Eat this not that. Can’t have that toast with my fried egg, chocolate brownie, the whole square, are you kidding me?
- 65% of people who successfully complete a fad diet will end up gaining all of their weight back that they lost.
- 95% of diets fail and most will regain their lost weight within 1-5 years.
- The average person will try 126 fad diets over the course of their lifetime, a new poll has claimed.
- A poll of 2,000 participants found that the average person will embark on at least two fad diets a year, which was then typically being abandoned after just six days.
This is what I’ve learnt after falling in with the huge majority that pursues weight loss as a lifelong goal.
1. Don’t Diet
Yes, do yourself and your friends & family a favour and snap out of it. When you diet, you are telling your body you will deprive it of all that it craves all day long. Pizza, chocolate, ice cream, chips … you name it, the list is endless. Agreed, all this food will do nothing for your health but loads for your waistline. But, let’s try approaching the problem from a different perspective.
2. Do change your Lifestyle!
Yes, you can. Going on a diet means you will restrict calories, fat intake, portions etc for a short time & then, when you reach your target weight, you will fall back into your previous ‘eating’ lifestyle. Instead of embarking on a restrictive journey, multiple journeys where you start, stop, restart again… just train your brain to think before you eat. It’s called mindfulness & it’s working for many people around the world. Make a walk part of your daily routine. Maintain a food diary if you have to, to see how much you’re eating in a day. Once you write it down, you’ll know when you weren’t thinking, and you will correct yourself…it’s that easy!
3. Do Portion control
Eat what you like but reduce quantities. If you normally eat 3 slices of pizza, cut it down to 2 and add in a filling bowl of salad, oats, soup, anything you would normally eat only on a diet. That way you are cutting down on the extra junk calories from Pizza and transferring them to a healthy, nutritious substitute. Over time, you may find you can cut down to a slice of pizza on days you might have had 2. Or plan your day such that if you’re eating Pizza in the evening, you’re keeping it light in the day.
4. Do Eat Healthy Most of the time
Add a healthy alternative to your meal choices. Baked not fried, salad without mayo, try balsamic dressing instead, toast with marmalade but no butter (you can always have one day of the week when you allow yourself butter). Gradually reduce the sugar in your tea/coffee to 3/4th then 1/2 tsp and seek healthier substitutes eg Stevia, if that works for you or honey. The gains will be gradual but long term as your taste buds adjust to a healthier taste.
5. Do Eat What You Love
Self-denial will lead to ‘blech’ feelings that will make you give up your diet and revert to your old weight. Not just that, but the feeling of failure and hopelessness will multiply as you lament your lack of self-control and decide to give up on your weight loss goal entirely. Instead, make a list of what you love. It can be a mental list. Dark chocolate is on top of mine. Practice a trade-off, for example, give up that cream on your pancakes or hot chocolate or that scoop of ice cream for the square of dark chocolate and stick to certain days that you allow yourself the luxury. Reward yourself with what you love when you’ve been mindful of what you eat. Don’t cut out what you love to eat completely. That sense of deprivation will make you binge later when no one’s watching.
What is mindful eating?
6. Don’t Bring Junk Food Into Your Home
Yes, you can. Chips, ice cream, cookies can be a treat when you leave the house. That way you will not feel you are playing hide & seek with that bag of crisps all day long. What you can do is substitute healthy options for the unhealthy choices in your life. Switch to baked chips, light crackers, corn chips, make a dip with yoghurt, ketchup and paprika when you want to have mayo and keep it at hand in your fridge. Keep oats at home to make oat pancakes when you have the craving for some.
In short, don’t diet, change your lifestyle, your food choices and fall into the mindset that “I will eat healthy 90% of the time, I can then have a burger, fries, pizza, chocolate cake once in a while guilt-free”.
Life is all about making choices. Make healthy eating a lifestyle, a habit, not a punishment that you have to endure for the rest of your life.
I have not been on a diet for 3 years now. I have stayed in a healthy weight range through mindful eating. Yes, I do gain a bit of weight over the winter break or on holiday, but instead of slipping back to the point of no return (my previous unhealthy weight), I get back into healthy eating mode by following the tips above and you know what, it works.
7. Do Step On The Scales
Lastly, keep a weighing scale in your room and step on it weekly or daily, as you feel the need. The point is to track your weight and keep it in a healthy range, not to make you feel guilty if you’ve gained a kilogram. It’s easier to lose a kilo than 10 kilos – believe me, I’ve tried.
Remember, don’t diet – just eat mindfully, it works!
Disclaimer: If you plan on embarking on a lifestyle change, consult your health expert or nutritionist for advice before starting any program. The health tips mentioned in the article have been drawn from Shazia’s fitness journey experience with Health & Nutrition Coach Sujata Din & Studio Neesy. However they are a personal account of her journey, so please consult a health expert before you embark on yours.
Shazia likes to pen her thoughts when she feels passionately about a life experience, a person or an event. She is mother to 3 lively boys and along with her husband, attempts to settle in her new country by taking German lessons so she is able to soak in the culture, language and spirit of the region.
“Wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and exhale! Keep on living with a passion that inspires others! “