Quit dieting once and for all. Dieting just does not work! Why is that? It seems that the mindset we often have is that in order to lose weight, we have to put ourselves on some restrictive diet that is ridiculously low in calories which is simply not realistic and then we think we need to exercise like a gladiator on top of it all. When our calorie intake is too low, we have a tendency to feel deprived all the time. As the days continue, we find our mood is affected and that we are irritable and unable to focus or be productive.

Why is this? Our mood is affected by under-eating in that we deprive ourselves of many of the nutrients that affect the emotional centers of our brain. Also, as we reduce necessary nutrients, this affects the balance of those important nutrients. The long and short of it is that our body is not getting what it needs in order to function properly.  Thus, we begin to feel irritable. Many people also report that their mind wanders continually as they think about food and what they are going to eat next. It is time to stop the insanity!

  • Focus on health instead of weight loss. When we implement healthy lifestyle behaviors, we find our weight will improve and health issues may consequently also improve.
  • Start by focusing on eating fresh foods as much as possible. Get back to basics and eat a plate that is balanced with half your plate consisting of vegetables or both fruit and vegetables with a portion of whole grains and a portion of lean meat. No need for yo-yo or fad dieting… just focus on lean meats and non-starchy veggies on every plate and you will find you feel better and weight loss will find you.
  • Give yourself permission to eat a cookie once in a while. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”. If we are eating healthy, indulging in a sweet treat occasionally is acceptable and our body can maintain a healthy weight. It is when this becomes a daily occurrence and we indulge in an unreasonable portion size that eating these treats then becomes unhealthy.
  • How to keep from overeating or overindulging. This is a technique we call “Mindful Eating”. We need to learn to enjoy our food. Stop and smell your food for a moment. As we deliberately take each bite, we need to chew slowly enjoying the flavor in our mouth by analyzing what we feel in our mouths as we eat. Is it smooth, crunchy, or chewy?  A very important take-away here is to take small bites. Don’t just shovel in food one bite after another. As we slow down, we will also be able to know when we are full. We will be able to be more in tune with our bodies fullness cues.
  • Healthy movement to keep ourselves from being too sedentary. Find things to do that will strengthen your body like going for a walk. Alternatively, it can be as simple as adding more activity like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or choosing a parking spot just a bit farther out from the store and getting in some extra steps. Also, getting out in the fresh air and doing yard work will add to your healthy lifestyle and can be very satisfying. You may want to find the time to go bicycling or hiking. If you don’t have time during the week, make the time to do something like this on the weekend. Additionally, activity does not have to always look like a trip to the gym and you don’t have to spend hours to get some healthy activity in. If you cannot carve out 30 minutes of your day at one time, try to divide it into 10-minute chunks. Try 10 minutes in the morning and another 10 minutes at lunch time and an additional 10 minutes in the evening.

Be sure to contact a registered dietitian to help you with your individual dietary needs.

Carrie Gustafson RDN, LD