Diets that work all have the same core basis: they are an overall lifestyle change geared towards healthier eating habits. But why do so many diets fail to meet expectations? Let’s look into the issues with ineffective diets and how alternative approaches can help you live a more active, healthy life.
Why Diets Fail
Diets prove ineffective when their primary mechanism of action is restriction. Typically, diets are about cutting out something that’s already a part of your life. Across the board, diets seek to limit caloric intake in order to trigger weight loss. According to health advocate Dr. Linda Bacon, “diets provide rules and require that you control food intake through willpower and withholding, rather than listening to internal cues.” This dynamic sets many dieters up to fail. Typically, Bacon explains, “a system that emphasizes external processes is fragile, ineffective and discontent and periodic rebellion.” Simply put, traditional diets are structured to work against, rather than utilize, human psychological processes.
In this way, diets have unrealistic expectations, not only in the goals they set, but in the way dieters are expected to meet those goals. Cutting out all carbs, for example, means no king cake. But when there’s a new king cake in the office every other day, diet compliance will require an extraordinary amount of willpower. Many dieting goals are not attainable, and unmeetable expectations set many dieters up for failure.
So what’s the alternative?
What Is Intuitive Eating?
If you coerce yourself into a strict, prohibitive dieting regimen with a start date and end date, you might find your consumption habits to be even more fraught after completing your diet. Instead, focus on a long-term behavioral shift to intuitive eating. Mindful eating is the practice of tuning into your body and noticing your relationship with food.
An “attuned eater,” says Dr. Linda Bacon, “chooses foods based on an internal felt sense of hunger, appetite, and satisfaction,” rather than external cues like diet rules or fast food advertisements.
You’ll be more likely to achieve your dieting goals if you shift your focus from weight loss to mindful eating. A diet should be a reorganization and reprioritization of what you’re putting into your body and why.
How To Initiate A Shift
Pay attention to what you’re eating. Notice how much you’re eating, when you’re eating it, where, and why. This will help you clock your habits and reflect on your relationship with food. Do you rely on food for emotional comfort? Are you stress eating, or bingeing out of sadness, anxiety, or boredom? To build a healthier relationship with food, examine what purpose food currently serves in your life. Then you can decide what changes you want to make, and build a plan to implement those changes in concrete steps.
What To Look For In A Diet
In addition to incorporating a more mindful approach to eating, you may feel that a diet with specific parameters is important to your fitness journey.
Successful diets are not focused on excessive restriction, but still provide structure. Many people can benefit from the focus that a foundational plan provides. No matter which macro your diet emphasizes, the program will seek to replace sugar and refined carbs with more vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. If this change is executed sustainably, your body and its functions will benefit from a lower intake of processed foods.
If you want to kickstart a broader lifestyle change with a diet, look for a holistic plan that’s flexible, balanced, and centered on foods that you enjoy eating. An integrative program will also involve activity as well as methods to center yourself mentally and emotionally.
All Inclusive Health Can Help
Fitness nutrition specialists at All Inclusive Health will work with you to create a customized nutrition plan that you can stick to. We understand that no two bodies are the same, and our mission is to tailor a program to your physical needs, as well as the demands of your lifestyle.
If you’re beginning your nutrition journey, check out our education page for helpful information on meal prepping, meal planning, reading nutrition labels, and more. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, contact All Inclusive Health today.