A man holding a bunch of red apples

The Problem with Dieting

When I was growing up, my parents had a coffee cup that said “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.” Isn’t that the truth in America? People always talk about their new diet program, or next week they will change their eating habits, or buy gym memberships to increase fitness. But do diets actually work? And if so, what makes them work?

Each diet has its own way to drop weight quickly, especially in the first few weeks. Cleanses, Weight Watchers®, and The Atkins Diet® all have good results in the beginning, but the struggle is in maintaining the weight loss long-term. Often, those first pounds dropped are actually shifts in cellular fluids and water throughout the body. And each diet has its own issues. Take Weight Watchers®, for example, which says an apple has zero points. But if you eat ten apples you will be consuming almost 1,000 calories. You can see how it might be confusing.

Instead of a fad diet try making very slow, gradual lifestyle changes to your day that you know will lead to better health. These steps may be different for everyone depending on their current food relationship, but see which steps below could be beneficial to make long-term changes that will lead to your healthier lifestyle.

Eat more vegetables

This might be the most recommended phrase I have ever said. But the truth of the matter is, everyone could eat more vegetables! They are so beneficial to our health in so many ways. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, even water fill every part of our vegetables. And the more we eat, the more benefit we gain. Some vegetables are more nutrient dense than others. But instead of limiting your intake of this one, eating more of that one, trying a new one every week etc, make your first goal to just eat more of them. If that means you go from one serving a day to two servings, great! If it means you go from eating them at dinner to also including them at lunch, that’s great too! The point here is that you make slow, gradual changes that you can stick with.

Listen to your body

How often do you continue to eat when you are already full? How often do you eat because others are eating but you aren’t really hungry? A recent study found that people eat an extra 1,300 calories per week at work.1 Most likely this is due to social eating, as well as office celebrations that may happen frequently such as birthdays and work anniversaries. When having a meal or snack, make sure to do a small check-in with your body to decide if what you feel is truly hunger and not just boredom or desire.  Making this a frequent habit could help you decrease excess calorie intake, possibly leading to weight loss and even better control of blood sugars.

Drink more water

Often we feel hungry when really we just need to drink more water. Water can help fill us up as well as providing essential needs to each cell in our body. It even helps to keep or gut working properly. Try buying a large water bottle that you keep with you all day long to help meet your fluid goals.

Be more active

Finding a way to increase your activity can only benefit your body. Try finding a walking buddy at work, taking the dog for a walk every morning, even riding your bike. If you can increase the frequency of your activity, you will absolutely notice a difference in the way you look and feel.

Be sure to check with your physician before starting any diet or exercise regimen. Making small lifelong changes is a great step towards better health!

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