It has been found that up to 50% of women in the US are on a diet at any given time. Americans spend more than $60 billion on weight loss products. So with all of these individuals spending money and dieting, why are we still by far the least healthy country in the world?
Most of the reasons are due to the extreme and unrealistic expectations that diets force individuals to follow. So why is it so hard to stick to a diet?
- Trying to change your life and not making it a lifestyle change: Anything that has a start and end date when it comes to food choices doesn’t make it a lifestyle change. If you think of it as “I only have to get through this for the next x amount of time,” this isn’t something that you could or should maintain for a lifetime. Learning how to eat meals and snacks that will nourish your body for the rest of your life leads to success for the long-term.
- All-or-nothing mentality: Are you on a diet or completely off of one at all times? The key is balance. Allowing yourself to have all foods in moderation at all times has been found to be the most successful “diet” there is. Enjoying foods that you would normally think of as forbidden, but making sure to balance it with the good-for-you everyday foods is key. Instead of cheat meals or days, toss that thinking out and enjoy any food at any time.
- No patience: Change is tough. Trying to completely overhaul your diet is a recipe for disaster! Instead, have patience by making small changes that will last. One week start trying to incorporate more vegetables into your diet and figure out how you can make that a new habit. Once you have achieved that, move on to another goal such as packing lunch three times per week instead of one. Slow and steady changes have been found to be more effective, and you are more likely to stick to them.
- Not nourishing your body: When you are walking around hungry, it is really hard to stick to a restrictive diet that has a lot of do’s and don’ts. A balanced diet that incorporates whole grains, lean protein, fruits and veggies, and low-fat dairy will help to make you feel full and satisfied and able to get through the day without the hunger pangs or guilt feelings for overeating. Aim for three food groups at mealtimes and two at snacks to guarantee a satisfying and balanced diet.
Studies vary, but between 5% and 20% of individuals that lose weight are successful at keeping it off long term. Those that are the most successful report following a balanced diet, self regulation by checking their weight once per week, averaging one hour per day of physical activity, eating breakfast, and maintaining consistent eating patterns across weekdays and weekends. Follow these tips to help add yourself to the list of successful dieters!