I feel like conventional dieting advice sets everyone up to fail. Let’s face it, most diets do not work over the a longer duration. How can we think about dieting and weight loss differently?
Change Your Expectations
First of all, I think that we need to stop focusing on weight loss as the end goal, and begin focusing on health as the primary objective. When we make choices for our health, the weight loss will be a side effect.
If you are like a lot of people I know, myself included, there is a temptation to think that you can lose all of your weight quickly. Programs are sold based on, not just how much you can lose, but how quickly you can lose it. The promise of 2 pounds a week or more is tempting. That would mean I could lose 100 pounds over the next year and be at my ideal weight! In my opinion, this expectation is setting you up for failure and disappointment.
Chances are good that if you are carrying a lot of weight that you did not gain it all in a year. Which means that chances are good you will not lose it all in a year. If the goal is health, then every step you make toward that is a step in the right direction, even if the weight comes off slowly. I, personally, created a five year plan for myself. It takes the pressure off, sets me up for success, and every positive change sets me up to be healthier than the month before.
Slow and steady is the name of the game with lasting changes that feel great. Here are a few ways to change the way you approach your food choices.
Choose health promoting foods
Rather than choosing foods that are low in calories, look for foods that are rich in nutrients. Choose whole plant foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains. Some foods that promote health may not be low calorie such as avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Add foods before subtracting foods
Traditional diets start by telling you all of the things that you cannot eat. Instead of starting with restrictions, begin by adding more of those health promoting foods. Find ways to add beans or lentils to more of your foods. Pile extra vegetables onto your plate in any way that you will eat them. Have some fruit after every meal. As you develop a taste for whole plant foods, then you can begin cutting out the meat, dairy, egg, sugar, salt, and oil.
I often see diets that begin with the strictest form of the diet, and then you get to add more foods over time. Try the opposite. Make one lasting change, like cutting out meat. Then, when you get the hang of that, you can cut out eggs. Or eat vegan for breakfasts, then lunches, then dinners. Start with a small, attainable goal, and then build on that momentum.
Changing your goal from weight loss to health promotion can really help to take the pressure off, and reduce the frustration if you don’t see changes on the scale right away. Learning a whole new way of eating is a big undertaking. Be kind to yourself and make slow steady progress. If you are too strict, then any mistake you make easily becomes a convenient excuse to throw your hands in the air and give. Your health is too important to give up on. Be kind to yourself and feed your body some more plants today!