I came up with a set of 7 habits of highly ineffective dieting that might help you avoid getting off track (or get back on track). These are some common problems I’ve seen over the years with people trying to lose weight and getting stuck.
Most diets out there depend on portion control for their success. They get people to limit the portions that they eat. Since animal products, processed food and oils are high in fat (9 calories per gram) they also tend to be high in calories. So to reduce calories they say you have to reduce the portions. People tend to use willpower in this case, trying to get used to smaller amounts of food. But that willpower only lasts for so long and they fall off the wagon on that yo-yo dieting cycle.
A much better way that has worked for me is to eat lower calorie dense foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. You fill your stomach on lower calorie foods, feel satiated and yet you don’t exceed your caloric requirements.
Lack of Knowledge
Many people have emailed me with questions about what to eat and I find that knowing how the diet works and what is involved can really help. Also learning how to cook various foods is useful so you don’t have to order out or buy processed foods all the time. Also understand what our biology indicates we should be eating, the science behind healthy food as well as the impacts on the environment and abuse and death that is involved with raising animals for food. Also many foods in the store have oil, sugar, fat in them so being able to look at the nutrition label and ingredients on the back really helps.
Restaurants are highly problematic even though some people are able to customize their food. Restaurants want food to taste good so they put lots of salt, sugar and fat in the food. They often have prepared sauces so trying to get them to cook things without oil can be difficult. And even if you tell them what you want they may screw up by force of habit, putting oil or cheese on something. I’ve seen so many stories online over the years that it’s basically not worth it. And when you finally get everything done properly you might end up with a plain salad or dry baked potato. If you decide to go once in a while that could be fine, I just want you to understand where some problem areas are that you may not realize.
We all hit a plateau at some point. This is often a point where people give up and jump to another diet. I plotted a graph for an entire year and I feel it really helped me stay on track because I could see the downward trend, even with a few ups and downs. The scale is also not always the best measure as we can gain water weight at certain times. So mentally the graph is a great way to see the progress you’ve already made and encourage you to stick to the program. Also realize this should be a permanent lifestyle change due to the knowledge you have that this is our natural way of eating, and the benefits to the animals and the environment.
There may be some things that need to be changed over time. As we lose weight we need less calories to function so sometimes we need to make adjustments. The best way is to reduce the calorie density as discussed previously.
Most diets also use the moderation concept where we can continue to eat unhealthy and fattening food as long as we eat smaller amounts or eat it less often. This generally doesn’t work due to the pleasure trap principle. I like to think of food like I do drug and cigarette addictions. We don’t tell cigarette smokers to only smoke a little or alcoholics to only drink a few beers a day. The best way is to cut it out but of course we all like to hear that we can keep eating the junk! Some people can truly moderate with a few nuts here and there but if you’re overweight or unhealthy, that’s not you!
We tend to forget all the bad things we eat and minimize their effect on our results. I’m here to tell you that everything you eat matters. But we often underestimate how many less than ideal things we’ve eaten and wonder why we aren’t getting the results. With 100% adherence the results will really start to kick in!
Many people have the knowledge they need but they just can’t get the results. They tend to blame other things like genetics, or the food corporations that make the unhealthy food or the government who promotes unhealthy eating. I suggest we focus on things we can control which is what we put into our mouth each and every meal. Try not to blame things that you can’t control and even if you have a certain condition (thyroid, etc) you can make sure you eat the best way and get the best results you can in your current situation.
What ineffective habits have you noticed?
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/91695677@N00/3982668517/