This scenario is familiar to many of us… A new best-seller diet book promises their new diet discovery will melt away your excess pounds in merely days. In our thin-obsessed society, the allure of quick-weight-loss-fixes can be irresistible. But if long-term, healthy weight loss is what you are looking for, you will have to realize that there are no quick fixes that will give you the permanent weight change you are looking for.
There main reasons fad diets fail people are:
Physiologically, severe caloric reduction turns on the body’s starvation process. When in starvation mode, the body uses whatever fuel it can to make up for the shortfall of calories and it doesn’t select fat over muscle. The reality is that the amount of muscle we have dictates our calorie burning potential, also known as our metabolism. So when we lose muscle as a result of severe caloric restriction, it is extremely difficult to maintain a new healthy weight after the diet is over. Psychologically, weight loss diets leave the majority of us feeling deprived. We lose weight, but most of us cannot keep up the restriction for long. When we go off the diet, we tend to treat ourselves to all kinds of foods we feel we missed out on. In Canada, food portions have increased over the years and super sizing means more calories and more pounds. Many are also opting for unhealthy fad diets such as the low carb diet which keeps your body from getting the necessary fibre, protein and vitamins it needs.
Overall, a healthy diet is based on balance, variety, moderation and common sense. When a food group is avoided or eliminated, important nutrients are compromised in the diet. You should focus on a lower fat diet that is moderate in carbs, high in fibre, fruits and vegetables and proven safe over the long term. Losing weight is almost always a good thing, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of a complete, healthy diet.
For healthy, sustainable weight loss, try the following guidelines:
Include a variety of foods from all four foods groups of Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Include up to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits in your daily diet. Add fruits to cereals and salads, or have them as snacks. Enjoy vegetables raw, cooked or steamed. Research shows that the antioxidants they contain help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer.
“B” good to your body. B-complex vitamins help the body convert food into energy. Specifically, B-complex vitamins help convert carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta and bread, into energy the body can use to fuel physical activity.
Eat regularly. Skipping meals usually leads to overeating at another meal. Skipping breakfast, for example, often makes you more prone to eating meals late at night or snacking on fatty foods. By eating regularly, you can control your portion sizes and make sure your body has the energy it needs throughout the day.
Take time for your meals. Busy schedules often mean quick fixes and eating on the go. The less time you make for your meals, the more prone you are to picking up high-fat food or snacks. Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer when you are more distracted. Instead chew slowly, concentrate on eating and watch your portion sizes to help you avoid overeating.
Reduce your intake of processed foods. Many processed foods have little nutritional value, and can be very high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead choose whole grains such as whole grain pastas, brown rice, oatmeal, barley and quinoa. Take fresh or dried fruits for snacks.
Create a food diary – Try keeping a simple food diary for one week. Jot down everything you eat and drink, and make note of the time. This will help you identify patterns in your eating habits that you may not have otherwise noticed. Do you tend to eat late at night? Are you eating enough of the four food groups? Do you often eat outside of the home? Answering these questions will help you identify how you need to change.
“Why Fad Diets Fail Us?” Written By: Gina Sunderland, MSc, RD. Registered Dietitian for Action Physiotherapy & Wellness Clinic.