"I can't have that, I'm on a diet." I cringe every time I hear it, and try to keep my mouth shut, for I know that it's unlikely that their super restrictive "diet" is going to get them the lasting sustainable results that they're looking for. It's not their fault, with marketing, social media, and the never ending creation of new diets, as well as the need for instant gratification, people are led to believe that this is how it's done. It's not.
I really don't like to use the word “diet”. It’s usually associated with being restrictive and short term. The problem with a restrictive diet and removing foods is that all you’re likely to do is think about those foods that were removed. Once you've reached your goal and you're done dieting, you then binge on those foods that were removed, gain some initial weight back, and slowly continue to add weight because lifestyle modifications weren't a part of this plan. Of course your response to this is to go back on the diet and yo-yo for the rest of your life. Does this sound like fun to you? Didn't think so!
This is unfortunately how most diets work though. They restrict you from certain foods or food groups, which then reduce your caloric intake and result in you losing weight. It really is that simple. Now, I'm not saying that all of these diets are bad, I use many different types of diets and tactics with my clients, but only when necessary. I'm also not saying that I don't remove foods from a client's diet. If it's a hedonistic food that they can't control themselves around, it's gone, but this is the exception and together we create a plan of attack.
Now there is no such thing as a best diet. In fact, your diet should change as your body changes. It's almost like writing a workout program, sometimes you reduce calories, sometimes you increase them, sometimes you lower carbs, sometimes you don't. What I'm trying to say here is that your body adapts and you need change. End tangent.
Okay, so back to our main topic, sustainable results. Unfortunately developing a plan is beyond the scope of this article, as it's a highly individualized process. I will however leave you with some tactics you can use to initiate results and slowly modify your lifestyle.
1. Addition before subtraction: If you're far from your goal, you’re much better off adding foods in than removing them. Most often what this means is increasing your vegetable intake, and/or eating your vegetables firs tat meals, and/or eating an apple (or other high fiber and water fruit or vegetable) 15 minutes before meals.
2. Start your day with fruit and veggie smoothie: This means putting some fruit and lots of vegetables in a blender (not a juicer) and then drinking as a part of your breakfast. I often like to make a very large smoothie and then drink it throughout the day. It adds fiber to my diet, adds bulk, and improves detoxification.
3. Make slightly healthier choices: This doesn't mean that you need to go from eating pizza to eating a salad, but maybe you go from pizza to a hamburger. You still enjoy your food, reduce calories, and get results. You can continue to slowly make slightly healthier choices, allow your palate to adjust, and find a sustainable healthy diet.
4. Eat a little less: Simply eat less of foods that are higher in calories.
5. Remove hedonistic foods: If there's a food you just can't limit yourself around, stay away from it altogether. If I open a bag of chips, I can't stop until the bag is empty. This is why there is never a bag of chips in my house and why I won't have “just one” at social gatherings.
6. Start an exercise program: Increase how many calories you're burning throughout the day, which will increase your caloric deficit and help you to lose weight.
The main idea is to make small consistent changes for long-term success. If for whatever reason your diet isn't working, just tweak it a bit.