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Why You Don't Need To Diet For Lasting Weight Loss

Khandee Ahnaimugan, M.A., M.D.
Written by Khandee Ahnaimugan, M.A., M.D.

Do you hate dieting? It may surprise you to know that dieting is not a tried-and-true way to lose weight and keep it off. In my experience, it's a short-term approach that doesn't prepare you for being able to maintain your weight for the long-term.

Dieting doesn't work because:

1. Dieting is drastic.

How many times have you been on a diet that meant you had throw out everything in your fridge, stop eating an entire food group or shop at different stores for your ingredients?

The thing with big changes like this is that when your life is going smoothly, you might be able to stick with the changes. But as soon as something comes up — a busy time at work, your child off sick from school — it's easy to revert to old habits, sometimes without even realizing.

Drastic, overnight changes are often too hard to stick to in the long term.

2. Dieting is unpleasant.

How many diets have you been on where, if you were being honest with yourself, you actually hated the food you were eating?

Similarly, have you been on diets where you had to miss out on activities that you usually love, like eating at restaurants or going to a cafe with friends?

If losing weight is unpleasant, why would you want to keep doing it for the rest of your life?

3. Dieting is short-term.

You might be able to stick with a diet for a few weeks and lose some weight, but once you come off the plan, chances are the weight you've lost will reappear.If you're sick of yoyo-ing, another diet is not your answer.

Want to know the truth about successful, lasting weight loss? You don't need dieting to achieve it.

Dieting isn't the way to create a sustainable lifestyle change because everything about dieting screams "short term."

If you know anyone who has lost weight and kept it off, ultimately the reason they're still slim isn't because of dieting but because they've changed their lifestyle and habits.

The good news? If you want to be slim and healthy for life, you don't need to diet. But what do you need to do instead?

1. Keep things similar and then nudge yourself in the right direction.

Rather than overhauling your life and eating, keep things roughly the same. Do all the same things, and eat the same foods but make small changes gradually, like cutting back food portions by 5% to start.

2. Get in touch with how much you really need.

Most of us have gotten used to eating more than we actually need to feel satisfied. Become more mindful about which foods make you happy and how much you need to eat to feel that way. Mindfulness allows you to eat less without sacrificing enjoyment.

3. Change your environment.

Our society is getting more and more overweight, mainly because of our environment — we're surrounded by food.

Don't be a victim of your environment: Take control by remove temptation from your line of sight. You can still eat foods you love, but make it a deliberate choice, not an incidental convenience.

4. Make long-term changes.

Every time you cut back or replace one food with something else, ask yourself "Am I willing to do this forever?". If not, try something else. This is about making changes that last, not quick fixes.

5. Think of it like an experiment.

Chances are, you won't get it 100% right the first time. Keep introducing new changes, tracking what works and what doesn't. Don't beat yourself up if something doesn't work for you, but do keep trying and do keep going.

6. Be gentle.

Maintaining your weight is for the rest of your life so it's not a race. Take it slow. Be gentle on yourself. If you're overweight, even losing 5-10 pounds will make your life better.

Once you've lost the first 5 pounds, focus on the next 5. Keep working away in small steps. This way, you don't have to wait until you've reached your goal to feel good.

It's going to be great all the way along. Enjoy it!

Want to turn your passion for wellbeing into a fulfilling career? Become a Certified Health Coach! Learn more here.


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