Why making lifestyle changes is more beneficial than going on a diet
If you’re looking to lose weight or change shape, then the chances are, you’ve thought about crash dieting. Especially so if you’d like to reach your goals in a short period of time, or for a certain event. But probably somewhere in the back of your mind, you’ll hear that voice that tells you “crash dieting will never work” and “I’ll just put all the weight back on as quickly as I lost it, as soon as I eat normally again”.
And that nagging voice would be right. Crash diets, where you lose a dramatic amount of weight in a short timeframe by severely restricting your calorie intake, simply aren’t sustainable. We might be able to fast for a short while, but limiting our calorific intake so much, will make us lethargic and unable to concentrate and the hunger will get us in the end.
The same can be said for dieting in general. Telling ourselves that we’re ‘on a diet’ is telling ourselves that we don’t deserve certain foods, or that certain foods are guilt foods and ultimately, it’s telling ourselves we’re about to embark on something really difficult that we’re bound to fail.
In order to lose weight or change our body composition or shape, it’s far better to make healthy lifestyle changes, than to actually go on a diet. Going on a diet is a short term commitment, so it stands to reason that any weight loss or changes we see, will also be short term. Once we come off the diet, the weight will slowly creep back on. Not to mention the confusion we face trying to decide which ‘diet’ to follow in the first place.
On the other hand, making sensible, healthy tweaks to our lifestyle helps to create long term, even lifelong, habits that will serve us well past the point where we’d normally give up on a diet. Psychologically we’re more likely to adapt to gentle lifestyle changes, rather than going on a strict diet, and the science seems to back this up. A 2007 report in the American Psychologist Journal found that whilst diets can help us lose 5-10% of our body weight, around 70% of us won’t maintain this weight loss.
So what do we mean by healthy lifestyle changes? Different people find that different things work for them. But on the whole, filling yet healthy meals that are based around naturally low fat, high protein foods are key to maintaining weight loss and avoiding snacking. Starting your day with a filling breakfast will set you up until lunchtime, meaning that you’ll be less likely to make unhealthy choices for the rest of the day. Exercise is important too, and planning your exercise around each week will help to make sure you fit it in and that it becomes a way of life.
Our emotions play a part too. If we’re feeling lonely, stressed, anxious or depressed, then emotionally overeating can be our attempt to deal with our feelings. Therefore, healthy lifestyle choices don’t just mean eating a healthy diet and exercising. It also means looking after our emotional wellbeing. It’s important to speak to your GP if you feel like your mental health is suffering as they can suggest different ways of coping better.
Stay tuned for lots more healthy lifestyle advice, including ideas for healthy, protein packed meals that will keep you fuller for longer!