The Diet Dilemma: The Last Diet You’ll Ever Need
By Genevieve Cunningham
Grapefruit, lemonade, and cabbage soup. Sounds like a strange combination, right? At first glance, these three things have absolutely nothing in common. But if you were to dig a little deeper, you’d find that each of these foods is the staple item of their very own diet. If that sounds a little ridiculous, you’re in good company. Most people agree that extreme diets such as these are unnecessary and dangerous. In fact, recent research suggests that most diets really don’t work at all -- much less diets made of crazy ingredients or extremely restrictive rules.
Of course, this lack of diet success makes for some serious frustration. Why? Because we want diets to work. We want weight loss to be easy. We want to walk around in our dream bodies. And these desires keep us jumping from one popular diet to the next hoping this is the one that brings results. Eating grapefruits all day? Let’s do it. Nothing but meat and water? Why not? But the problem isn’t that we keep choosing the wrong fad, it’s that we don’t really understand diets at all.
What Is There to Understand?
Most people view diets as a temporary restriction that helps them achieve weight loss. It’s something they do, a series of steps to follow, until the goal weight has been met. Then they go back to old habits. But that’s not the real definition or purpose of a diet. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a diet is simply “food and drink regularly provided or consumed.” In the most simplified explanation, a diet is what you eat and drink -- whatever that happens to be. The healthier food you eat, the healthier your diet. And the healthier your diet, the closer you’ll get to your health goals. Sounds simple, but figuring it out and making it work is anything but.
If you want to achieve real and lasting weight loss, you have to go beyond the diet fads and instead choose foods that work for your body. Specifically your body. But how do we do that? While creating a healthy and successful diet takes a series of trial and error, there are some things we can do to get started.
Start with the obvious - Even if you’re still in the process of trying new foods and feeling out their effect on your body, you can still ditch the obviously unhealthy pieces. Soda? Switch to water. Junk food? Don’t even buy it. These obvious (yet difficult) choices add up to make a huge impact on your long-term health.
Exploration is key - No one finds the perfect diet by eating the same boring foods over and over again. You won’t be able to maintain a diet of lettuce and carrots. You have to be willing to step outside of your safety zone. Buy a cookbook and try one recipe at a time. It’s the only way to practice true trial and error and find the exact foods that feel good and work well for your body.
Understand your body - This is probably the most important part of good health -- and it’s the part that gets ignored most often. No one understands your body like you do. No one knows how a particular food or drink makes you feel. And unfortunately, you may not know either. We’re often not in the practice of listening to our own bodies and their reactions. But if creating a body-specific diet is the goal, you have to pay very close attention. Try a new food and then write down how it makes you feel. Does it make you sluggish? Hyper? Lose focus? Getting in touch with your body is your job -- and it’s the single most important factor in your diet and health moving forward.
Now Is the Time to Start Your New Diet
Once you understand that a diet isn’t a temporary switch, but rather a lifestyle choice that lasts forever, you can start creating a diet that works for you. You can ignore the latest superfood or eating plan and instead get right to the meat of healthy eating. But don’t do too much too fast. Along with keeping the above tips in mind, choose one meal to change. Focus on creating a healthy breakfast, and don’t worry about the rest yet.
The beginning is the hardest part. The more comfortable you get with trying new foods and listening to your body, the better you’ll get at making changes that last -- and the faster the results will come. It’s not just a diet -- it’s your life! Choose good food, quality food, healthy food. Choose lifestyle over diet. Rice cakes, smoothies, and baby food? No thanks. Your body, your health, your life -- no fad diets required.
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