Do diets work? My answer to this question is absolutely NOT! In fact, diets have been temporary solutions to my weight loss because they are too restrictive and not something that I could continue to follow. I would stop the diet for two opposing reasons. One, I felt deprived because I wasn’t allowing myself to have a few indulgences occasionally. Two, I felt guilty because I allowed myself a few indulgences and that was not part of the diet. How are you to win with this mindset? You can’t as this is a no win scenario. In fact, Kathleen M. Zellman, MPH, RD, LD has written a great article in WebMD expounding on how important it is that you “cheat on your diet” in order to stay the course.
After having been on the diet yo-yo for the last 25 years, which resulted in becoming 100 lbs overweight, I decided this time would be different because the diet approach was about to kill me. This time it is about making a life change. What does that really mean? That means eating healthy and exercising, but doing it in a way that I can continue going forward. Does this mean that you should never enjoy the foods that are considered unhealthy? Absolutely not, if you feel deprived then your healthy eating will only be temporary. What I have found to work for me is to allow myself a few indulgences on the weekend. These indulgences are planned in advance so that I know what and how much I am going to have. That way, I am able to enjoy them in moderation and not feel guilty because they were all part of the plan.
If this sounds a little vague, here is an example that has worked for me. Typically on Friday evenings my family and I go out for Mexican food. Now, I cannot have Mexican food without chips and salsa, so I will have some while we are waiting for our meal. Before going out to dinner, I have eaten two healthy meals and two healthy snacks so I’m not overly hungry for dinner. This will help me eat the chips in moderation before I have my healthy dinner of grilled chicken, black beans, rice, and guacamole salad. If dessert is your thing, then you could do all of the above leaving out the chips and sharing one dessert with your family. The bottom line is that most of the time I am eating healthy, but occasionally I enjoy a few indulgences. I have coupled this life change eating approach with exercise and have lost 90 lbs in 13 months. If you are questioning if do diets work, then I would recommend a permanent solution – make a life change.