The word “diet” is generally associated with some pretty unpleasant thoughts in the minds of most people. Usually, when people think of dieting, the concept is inseparably linked with deprivation. People assume that to follow a diet that will help them lose weight, they have to eat foods that are bland, boring or just plain gross. And they have to skip all of their favorite foods.
Fortunately, this just is not true. In fact, trying to force yourself to follow a diet that is overly strict can be counterproductive. Why is this the case? And how can you enjoy your weight loss diet?
A simple fact of human nature has a major bearing on the effectiveness of many popular diets: People do not do things that they do not enjoy. If you hate your diet because it forces you to eat foods that you dislike and abandon all of your favorites, you are not going to adhere to your diet for any length of time.
You may follow a diet for a few weeks or even months, but eventually you are going to slip. In fact, statistics have shown that 90 percent of people who start a diet will stop within the first 6 months. And experience has shown health and fitness experts just how dangerous this rebound period can be. Very often, people not only gain back whatever weight they managed to lose with their highly-restrictive diet. Even worse, dieters tend to binge on all the foods that they have been missing for all that time. This means that they not only regain the weight lost during the dieting phase, but they may even end up with a few pounds more than what they started with.
There’s also the risk of malnutrition inherent in many fad diets. To operate properly, your body needs macronutrients from fats, protein and carbohydrates as well as micronutrients from a mixture of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients come from a wide variety of foods. Any diet that forces you to survive on nothing but grapefruit, for example, for several days in a row is severely nutritionally imbalanced and will compromise your health. Neglecting any one of these essential micro or macro nutrients is simply not the way to lose weight.
To be clear, though, these extreme diets will work. You will lose weight but not healthy weight. The weight will usually be lost from fluid volume, muscle and minimally from fat. Additionally, you will probably lose it very quickly. But, as mentioned above, you are at a high risk of gaining it all back. There is also the chance that you can damage your body through this type of malnutrition and fad dieting.
A Better Way
The key to healthy weight loss is sustainability. You need to find a way of eating that you can keep up for years to come. Happily, this means that you have to be able to enjoy it.
When it comes to your favorite, albeit unhealthy, foods portion control is a very powerful tool. But, many people find it difficult to exercise self-discipline in this respect. Smaller plate sizes have been shown to be effective in helping people stick to limited portions. But you will also have to make a pact with yourself to not go back for seconds or thirds.
Studies have also shown that people who have a ritual attached to their meals tend to feel more satisfied and even enjoy the taste of the food more. This could be something as simple as unwrapping a piece of candy or twisting an Oreo to separate the two halves. Cooking your own food also counts as a ritual and can build anticipation and appreciation for the finished product. Preparing meals for yourself has the added benefit of giving you full control over what you eat.
Clearly, then, denying yourself food that you love is not the way to lose weight. You also do not have to force yourself to eat food that you hate. While there may have to be some adjustments made to your diet, there are some simple changes you can make that will make the diet process easier.