Why Diets Typically Don’t Work: Shift Your Focus to Long-Term Solutions
Approximately 45 million Americans go on diets every year. The definition of “diet”, according to Merriam-Webster, is as follows: “Food and drink regularly provided or consumed.” Now think about how often you hear the word diet actually used that way?
I typically hear the word associated with more negative connotations such as “restricting XYZ foods to lose weight”, which often leads to deprivation, frustration, and failure.
The truth is, there are so many diets and products out there promising stunning weight loss results, but they often just don’t work long term and aren’t sustainable. Weight management consists of two different phases: achieving weight loss and maintaining the weight loss. Strategies that work for initiating weight loss are not typically effective for keeping weight off. Ultimately, weight loss diets should be individualized and tailored to help you live a healthy life you can enjoy.
Let’s jump into ways that you can shift your focus from dieting to longer-term solutions for weight loss.
By: Alyssa, RDN-LD
Embrace a New Lifestyle Change
If your desired goals are to achieve weight loss and maintain weight loss, try focusing on making long-term lifestyle changes instead of short-term dieting.
Diets consist of temporarily changing your eating habits to promote a certain outcome, commonly weight, before returning to your previous eating habits.
On the other hand, lifestyle changes consist of adopting healthy overall habits that promote long-term weight and health. When you focus more on this, you are less likely to experience extreme hunger, food deprivation, weakness, exhaustion, and mental stress. Lifestyle changes teach you to listen to what your body is telling you. You will notice that even though weight loss may be slower, it is more permanent than what most diets can offer you.
Find What Motivates You
This may take some self-reflection, but once you know the “why” of why you want to incorporate new lifestyle changes, the “how” you stick with the part of things becomes easier. Some typical motivations include the desire for more energy, being healthy to enjoy time with your kids, getting active again, and just generally feeling better overall.
Change is overwhelming, especially if your lifestyle is already busy. To make changes that have a chance of lasting—start small. Once you’ve had success with smaller changes, you can build on them. Set realistic goals and expectations. The success you have will motivate you and your self-esteem and you should start feeling the effects of a healthier lifestyle.
Take Your Focus Off the Scale and Focus on Health
One of the many lessons I’ve learned is that the number on the scale doesn’t really matter. What matters most is the relationship a person has with their own self-image, food, and body. Often when people focus so much on the scale and it doesn’t move, despite their efforts of eating a healthier diet and exercise, they give up, feel terrible about themselves, and feel like a failure. The number on the scale doesn’t tell the full story.
Keep in mind that…
- Your body composition is changing. You could be losing body fat while gaining muscle. Your weight may stay the same, even as you lose inches, a sign you’re moving in the right direction. Therefore I recommend using a body composition scale to get a better understanding of what your body is made up of and establish goals from there.
- Your weight fluctuates each day. Sometimes your weight is up or down due to exercise, water intake, salt intake, hormones, lack of sleep, and many other reasons. Try to avoid weighing yourself daily.
There are many other ways to measure your health goals outside of the scale:
- Bloodwork/labs for certain health conditions
- How you feel
- Better digestion
- Feeling more confident
- Clothes fitting better
This is a large reason why most diets don’t work. They’re founded in a culture focused on the numbers and not the actual symptoms or journey one might be going through. Yes, you may very well reach a specific “number” goal, but was it done so healthily? Is it sustainable? What does that number really mean?
Look for a Meal Plan That is Tailored for You
When it comes to your meals, the one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Each person is unique, and the ideal eating habits will be different for everyone, depending on their lifestyle, weight, sex, etc. What works for some people is not realistic for others. That is why it’s important to research and find a meal plan that is best for your individualized goals and expectations.
In doing so, you’ll begin to establish a lifestyle that works for you and your goals, rather than following a meal plan that was made for someone else.
Learn More About Nutrition
I encourage everyone to take a little time to learn something new about healthy foods. We often know so little about the foods we eat every day or how it can impact your health. By digging a little deeper into nutrition education, you can find tools and strategies to succeed in meeting your goals.
Learning more about nutrition and food can help you:
- Understands more about how your body works
- Find foods to include in your diet that can be beneficial to your health
- Learn which foods to avoid that increase your health risk
Work with a registered dietitian (RD)! If you don’t know where to be, instead of stressing, I recommend working with a dietitian. If you’re looking to regain your health, adjust your lifestyle, learn how to have a better relationship with food—then the information you can gain from one-on-one counseling is irreplaceable. By working with a dietitian, you can be confident in knowing that you are getting professional and science-backed information.
They can provide you with tips, tricks, and resources with your individual goals in mind. Dietitians can help create a plan to not only set you up for the best chance of success for your short-term goals but help you with long-term planning and maintenance. It’s helpful to have a trusted person to provide motivation, support, and accountability as you work towards achieving your health goals.
Give Yourself Some Grace
We are all guilty of a negative inner-dialogue at times. Grace, understanding, and forgiveness are basic tenets we are taught to give to others, but we don’t often offer the same kindness to ourselves. The first step to giving yourself grace is to step back and realize it’s okay to not do everything perfectly. We’re all human. It’s okay to make mistakes and it is okay to start over, as long as you don’t give up. Each time we make the decision to give ourselves grace and take the next steps in moving forward we strengthen our healthy selves.
Ready for a change?
I hope that this has helped you shift your focus away from dieting and towards finding longer-term solutions in making those important lifestyle changes.
Need some help? Give us a call at (513)-791-9474 or fill out our consultation packet to get started with our Weight Loss Program. We’d love to sit down with you to discuss your goals and help get your health back on track!
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