Where Diets Go Wrong
by Nora Penia
Strictly speaking, diets don't fail, people fail to stick with a diet.
Following any reduced calorie diet will result in weight loss. The problem
is sticking with it. Unfortunately, most diets have built-in failures
which trip up the dieter.
Diets go wrong by being too restrictive.
Many conventional diets demand a fairly low calorie intake in order to
lose weight. They are based on a fairly simple concept: in order to lose
weight one must eat less. Although true, for people who have a large amount
of weight to lose, reducing their usual daily intake by 1000 - 2000 calories
a day is a depressing task. Such dieters feel deprived before even starting
a new diet.
Even for people with small amounts to lose, cutting their usual intake
from 2200 or 2500 to 1200 calories, can be a shock to the system. A quick
glance at any womens magazine reveals at least one sample menu for
weight loss. Upon comparison, the amounts of food seem very small and
usually include uninteresting foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese and
Diets go wrong by requiring the dieter
to change the type of food eaten.
Humans are creatures of habit and usually eat the same foods over and
over. Granted, overweight folks are eating too much of the wrong foods.
But, in an effort to promote eating a variety of healthy foods, conventional
diets suggest new dishes which often include exotic and hard to find foods
or just plain boring foods. Using a sample weeks menu of meals can
result in buying unusual ingredients, using a small amount for one recipe,
then often wasting the rest.
Diets go wrong by making it difficult
Most diets suggest using fresh foods, cooked from scratch at home. This
requires more meal planning, shopping and preparation time. Its
easier and quicker to rely on fast food or convenience foods. The drawback
with fast food is in controlling exactly what is eaten since the ingredients
are not easily known. Even with the new improved labeling on convenience
foods, theres no guarantee the totals at the end of the day will
be within healthy ranges. And who has the time to keep track?
But trying to eat less and prepare strange new dishes can be discouraging.
New recipes can take longer to prepare, making it tempting to revert to
old eating patterns and simply give up. Eating at a favorite restaurant
or at social gatherings is difficult at best. The required food is not
available and making substitutions is tricky.
Diets go wrong by feeling like a punishment.
Diets require the reduced intake of food, cutting out favorite foods,
learning to like new foods, spending more time planning and preparing
food. All these changes can make the dieter feel punished by the very
process which is supposed to improve life.
However, people usually approach a diet with the attitude: this
is just until I lose x number pounds. This is where people fail
diets. Any change required to lose weight will need to continue after
the pounds are gone. When dieters revert to old habits, the weight creeps
Diets go wrong by creating a repeated
Every time a dieter fails at a diet, stops trying and returns to old eating
habits, the chances of succeeding at the next attempt is reduced. The
dieter becomes fatalistic about the possibility of ever losing weight.
How to win the diet battle?
The real answer to the shortcomings of diets seems to be: eat the foods
you are accustomed to, but reduce the amount of everything eaten. Rather
than learning new ways of cooking, suffering through painful shopping
trips for food you dont like, spending hours cooking and tracking
the amounts eaten, simply fill your plate as usual, put part of it back
and eat the rest with a clear conscience.
A reduction of only 500 calories a day will result in a weight loss of
one pound a week which adds up over time. (When was the last time you
lost 52 pounds a year?) This approach automatically cuts the amount of
fat consumed as well as reducing the intake of sodium, sugar and concentrated
calories such as meat and carbohydrates.
So, rather than put yourself on a diet,' make moderate changes.
Omit one large snack or dessert, and all second helpings each day. Eat
a little less meat and high fat foods. Add a salad or extra serving of
skinny vegetables every day, (you know which ones.) Go for
a walk after supper. Give it time.
And, never say diet again.
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