“Diet” is a Dirty Word

Q: What’s the worst mistake you can make if you want to lose weight?

A: Go on a diet!

Here’s my definition of a diet, and why it doesn’t work: a diet is something you suffer through for as short a time as possible, until you give up and go back to what you were doing before you started.  If you’re like most people who’ve dieted, you recognize the sad truth in that.  That’s why diet is a dirty word in my practice. Let me explain further.

1. Deprivation isn’t motivation.
I’ve asked many hundreds of people “what comes to mind when you think of dieting?” and almost every one said the same thing: “deprivation”.  Deprivation not only isn’t fun, it isn’t even an effective strategy!  How long will you stick with something that makes you feel deprived and cranky all the time?  Not to mention hungry!

2. Food is not the enemy
A short term diet may get you into that outfit you want to wear to your high school reunion (although it usually doesn’t) but wouldn’t you rather give up battling with food altogether? To make peace with your plate and feel confident about making choices that help you feel and look great, in any circumstances?  Learning to make good food choices consistently is learning to support yourself in thriving in your own wonderful life!  It is perfectly possible to eat well, enjoy your food, and maintain an ideal weight, all without suffering.  Now isn’t that better than a diet?

3.  Buy This!
One of my pet peeves is any program that makes you rely on buying their products to lose weight.  Avoiding food and replacing it with packaged products doesn’t work in the long term. In fact, just the opposite.  Eventually you’re going to have to eat food.  What you need is strategies for how to make the best choices in any circumstances: at a restaurant, a party, a friend’s house, the supermarket, or home.  Who wants to go to a holiday event and chew on carrot sticks, or drink a meal replacement from a can?

4.  Don’t Trade Weight Loss for Health
Anything you do to lose weight should be consistent with improving your overall health, and all significant markers including blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, as well as better sleep, clearer skin, more energy, and a more stable upbeat mood. It should reduce your risk of degenerative disease, and diminish or eliminate other chronic symptoms.

When you are eating in a way that is healthy and appropriate for you, your body will naturally burn more fat. You will not feel hungry between meals, or be tormented by cravings. You will not need caffeine to get you through your day.  You will feel confident and comfortable choosing your food in any situation.  And you will never have to diet again.

Tip #1 Keep It Simple: the simplest way to eat healthy is to eat small amounts of lean protein, lots of vegetables, and a little fruit.  Add in beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. This approach is highly non-allergenic, and by limiting processed foods, you eliminate many health problems – and excess weight.

Tip #2 Don’t Fear the Fat: Study after study show that healthy fats help people lose weight and improve health.  Best sources include: avocados; nuts (not peanuts, which are legumes) and seeds (save and roast them from your Halloween pumpkin!); coconut milk and oil; and grapeseed, walnut and olive oils.

Tip #3 Vegetarian? No Problem! But don’t fill up on pasta and breads.  Focus on veggies, and get your protein from nuts & seeds, and butters made from them, as well as dairy and eggs. If you don’t eat fish, chia seeds, walnuts and avocados are among the best sources of Omega 3s.

If you are interested in learning more about healthy weight loss, take a look at my 13 Week Success Program, and read about the success that many hundreds of clients have experienced using it.

This article was originally published in my column, Holistic Outlook,  for The Times Herald Record.  Link to original article here. My previous two columns discussed common mistakes people make when they try to lose weight.  You can find them here and here, as well as at recordonline.com

3 thoughts on ““Diet” is a Dirty Word

  1. This is great Fran! You’re singing my tune. I have a background in nutrition (though not practicing right now) and worked with many clients with eating disorders. I myself lost about 15 pounds about 15 years ago–and kept it off–by NOT dieting. Instead, I just try to keep my blood sugar stable with proteins and fats. People have a hard time understanding this, but it works–for reasons you mention above.


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