It’s the start of the New Year and therefore the perfect time to reflect on the lifestyle changes we would like to adopt going forward. This year holds particular significance as 2020 marks the start of the new decade.
Today we are asking the question, has dieting had its moment?
We’ve been flooded with diet tips over the last 10 years. Fad diets, drink replacements and quick-fix solutions have had prominence across social media and splashed on the pages of magazines. But we are learning more about our health and bodies. And it’s starting to have an impact on these so-called ‘solutions’. Instead, exercise and the quality of the food/drink we consume are taking centre stage. Society seems to be accepting that a healthy lifestyle is the best way forward.
There are several reasons why someone might choose to diet. The main ones are for weight loss or due to medical needs.
When it comes to discussions around obesity and losing weight, society used to have an assumption that fewer calories equals more weight loss. This led to people seeking out quick-fix diets to help them limit calories and reach their overall goal. But this thought process is being challenged. With new research and new products coming to light, our attitudes are evolving.
Just this month, an article posted on the Telegraph revealed evidence on why not to diet. The Author, Bariatric Surgeon Andrew Jenkinson, has treated thousands of people with obesity. He understands that the more diets you’ve been on, the slower your metabolism. The body is trying to protect you from fasting. Therefore, dieting can often have the opposite effect. So, although you may see weight loss at first, post-diet, the weight will return. Worse still, because your metabolism is now slower, you may put weight on more easily.
Further evidence as to why diets don’t work is pointed to by Sandra Aamodt (PhD – Author of the book ‘Why Diets Make Us Fat’).
“Whenever your weight changes too much, your brain will intervene to push it back to what it thinks is the correct weight for you. And you might not prefer the same weight your brain prefers. Many of us don’t.”
This makes a lot of sense, the term yo-yo dieting springs to mind. This is where a person’s weight goes up and down drastically due to on/off dieting. Another study discovered that nearly 70% of dieters regain all the weight they lost while dieting.
It is worth noting that dieting can be very restrictive. Sometimes resulting in a person missing out on essential vitamins and minerals, Iron, Calcium and Vitamin D, by cutting certain food out of our diet.
Our bodies and attitudes are not a ‘one size fits all’. Living a healthy lifestyle allows room for us to develop in our own way and time. Some people need set rules to follow but for many, that won’t work long term. Dieting is an old-fashioned way of thinking, tough for people to follow and may not even get good results. The good news is there is an alternative…
There is a fundamental difference between adopting a diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle. A diet consists of temporarily changing your eating habits to promote a certain outcome, usually weight loss, before returning to your previous eating habits. A lifestyle change consists of adopting healthy overall habits that promote long-term weight control and health.
Although some people still swear by diets, there is no denying that they leave out the essential factors of a healthy life. For example, regular physical activity, managing stress and getting the right amount of sleep. To live healthily is essentially a game of balance between all of these aspects.
And balance is not always easy.
Living healthily is a journey which follows us through life so unlike a diet which may last a few weeks or months, it doesn’t stop. This level of commitment is scary for some, but the flexibility of healthy living makes is very possible. People often struggle because there are no instant results. Sticking with a healthy lifestyle through a period where you don’t necessarily feel or look any healthier is a challenge. But pass this mark and the difference is outstanding.
Calories matter but focusing on food quality is essential. High-quality foods include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein – the foods recommended in the healthy eating plate. Lower-quality foods include highly processed snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined (white) grains, refined sugar, fried foods, foods high in saturated and trans fats, and high-glycemic foods such as potatoes.
Balanced meals satisfy your body and hunger hormones so that you are not constantly wanting more food. Have you ever felt hungry half an hour after a McDonalds? But full hours after a Roast dinner. One is junk food, the other nutritiously balanced.
Dieting is about what you cut out and don’t eat. But leading a healthy lifestyle means partly focusing on what healthy and delicious food you can add in. It’s a change in mindset.
We’ve pulled together some top tips for accomplishing a healthy lifestyle.
You can gradually adapt your lifestyle. A few days at the gym or out running and introducing new healthy food to your diet. It shouldn’t happen overnight. The healthiest way to lose weight is to make small changes to your diet over a period of time.
Everyone has their limits and expectations. No one is watching your every move. You can still enjoy little pleasures such as chocolate, just limit them. Social situations can be problematic when trying to eat out but make time for them. Enjoy that beer, go out for that lunch. It’s all about the balance.
Practice healthy habits and enjoy nutritional foods alongside treats. Particularly, more organic, natural food which are rich in nutrients and lower in fat, salt and sugar. This means more fruit and vegetables and in bigger portions. Not only is this sustainable but other wants, such as weight loss, become a natural side effect.
Track your food/drink consumption for a week or two to try and work out what you eat. You don’t need to do this forever, but it can help you pinpoint changes you may need to make to your diet. Apps such as My Fitness Pal can you help you achieve this. It may be that you are not drinking enough water, too much fruit juice or skip breakfast often. Other ways to be mindful of what you consume include:
Try to focus goals on how you feel rather than what’s on the scales. Sometimes clothes fitting better or us generally feeling better is a far greater measure of overall health. Can you run a little faster, lift a little heavier?
What we drink has a big effect on our health. We often don’t think of fluid in the same way as food. But sugary drinks are loaded with empty calories. We can still enjoy them, but a Coke a day is a damaging habit. Check out some healthier drink choices.
Find the one that’s right for you. Team sport, solo gymming or hardcore Cross-fit sessions. As the popularity of healthy lifestyles grows, the demand for healthy snacks and drinks heats up. This is especially the case at leisure centres where people want access to protein choice and healthy options when working out.
Creating these habits are sustainable and achievable. There is no ‘drop a dress size in two weeks’ or ‘lose a stone in a month’. Forget those empty promises. Overall, it’s important not to focus on eating less but eating better. And mixing that with a positive mindset and plenty of exercise.
Diet = temporary
Healthy Lifestyle = For LIFE
Could 2020 be the year you switch?