Ditch your dieting habits for a healthy diet with variety

By MISSY CORRIGAN
Posted 2/8/19

It's been about one month since eager New Year's resolution makers began their quest for losing weight. Dieting is by far the most common approach for weight loss, but it is always the most difficult to maintain. With the promise of cutting …

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Ditch your dieting habits for a healthy diet with variety

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It's been about one month since eager New Year's resolution makers began their quest for losing weight. Dieting is by far the most common approach for weight loss, but it is always the most difficult to maintain. With the promise of cutting something out or never eating something again, avid dieters are determined to stick to it "this time." Boston Medical Center reports that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products.

Diets tend to have strict rules to follow, eliminate certain foods or take a lot of effort and are truly not sustainable for the long term. With diets like these, weight loss may happen quickly, but quick weight loss is typically not permanent weight loss. Anyone can lose weight on a five- to seven-day diet of soup and shakes, but is it realistic or even healthy to maintain that for one month, one year or even a lifetime?

Studies reveal that dieting may not be the answer because dieters often gain back the weight they lose and then some more. Additionally, dieting causes several psychological effects, such as stress, anxiety, lower self-esteem, depression and irritability. When we tell ourselves we "can't" or "shouldn't," these forbidden foods become more desirable, and cravings or feelings of deprivation begin to hit. Eventually this will lead to uncontrollable urges and overconsumption of these foods.

By removing "diet" from your mentality, you open the possibility to having all foods and give yourself permission to eat them should you want to. Research shows that once foods are no longer forbidden, the desire and cravings for them diminish, so consumption of these foods goes down.

The difference between having a healthy diet and being on a diet is that you can enjoy all foods and food groups on a healthy diet. Substituting healthy foods for unhealthy choices is a better method rather than eliminating certain foods from your diet. For example, you can substitute whole grains for refined grains or replace saturated and trans fats with healthy fats.

Before you change your diet, the National Institutes of Health suggests that you consider whether the diet is medically or nutritionally safe. Be skeptical of plans and programs that overemphasize only one food group or restrict your food choices. Food will be part of your daily choices for the rest of your life. Enjoy the foods you like, pay attention to how they make you feel, and make sure to eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods every day.

Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at mcorrigan@ymcasumter.org or (803) 773-1404.