Dieting vs Lifestyle Changes

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We have all at some point in our lives tried to diet. Whether it was to lose weight, for a cleanse, or for medical purposes; we have all tried to cut out certain foods and limit how much we eat. Instead of limiting and controlling your intake of food, you should seek to change your lifestyle to one that is healthy overall.

Dieting vs Lifestyle Changes

What is Dieting?

A diet is the type of food you normally consume. When you choose to diet, you prioritize eating certain foods above others. You’ll limit a specific type of food from your intake, such as carbs or processed sugar. The purpose of dieting is most often to lose weight; the less you eat, the more weight you’ll lose.

There are hundreds of diets to select from, the most notable being the Atkins diet, Keto diet, and Paleo diet. The Atkins diet promotes a low-carbohydrate intake, believing that results in an increased weight loss. Keto is similar to Atkins–it is a low carb but high fat diet. The Paleo diet is also nicknamed “the caveman diet”, as you can eat anything that hunter-gatherers would have eaten. It is a high protein, low carb diet.

There has been years worth of research done on the benefits and accuracies of dieting. While some of them do, in fact, help you lose weight, it has now been shown that low carbohydrate diets are not beneficial in weight loss. Dieting helps in weight loss due to its caloric restriction, not the types of food you stop eating. When you eat fewer calories than you burn off in a day, it results in a reduction of weight; the body will start to burn fat to make up for that difference. Dieting is beneficial when you have a food allergy or intolerance, such as lactose or gluten. It can be crucial to your health to avoid eating those foods, so dieting is necessary.

More often than not, though, dieting is not an ideal way of living. Most diets are unsustainable–you can’t cut out so many foods for more than a few weeks before your body starts to deteriorate from lack of nutrients. Many people take it to extreme levels and eat far too few calories than is recommended by doctors and researchers. It can lead to unhealthy body issues as well as physical and mental health issues. People also feel disappointed in themselves when they fail to maintain a diet. Almost 90% of dieters who lose a lot of weight end up gaining it all back once they stop the diet because they only saw their change in food as temporary. Once the diet ended, they went back to their prior unhealthy eating habits.

What is a Lifestyle Change?

Where diets are only supposed to be a few weeks of following strict eating habits, a lifestyle change is where you gradually alter your relationship with food and exercise. You aren’t focused on completing a challenge just to revert right back to your previous habits once done. Since it is a process that takes months to years depending on each person, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself when you eat something unhealthy or miss a workout. You are building up your self-image and understanding that there are no mistakes–your goal isn’t to appear a certain way or weigh a certain number, but to reach a level of health where you feel confident and strong.

You start with changing the types of food you eat, perhaps swapping out processed breads for whole grain ones. You prioritize eating large portions of vegetables. Once you’ve begun building up healthy eating habits, you can move on to developing an exercise routine that pleases you. It is all about changing any unhealthy habits you might have. Instead of stressing about the numbers on the scale and beating yourself up for failing a diet, you give yourself time to gain willpower and build up your discipline so that you can successfully change those behaviors for the better. When you change your lifestyle you have a greater chance of maintaining your weight loss. You also promote a healthier physical and mental health.

Difference Between Dieting and Lifestyle Change

Overall, dieting is a temporary solution that harms your physical and mental health. It does not have permanent results and often causes you to “boomerang” and gain back all the weight you lost, potentially even more. It is not sustainable and can harm your body when you restrict too many foods. Lifestyle changes are more disciplined and focus on your long-term goals. They prioritize your health, both mental and physical, and place importance on treating yourself kindly. It is more than just limiting calories and cutting out food–it is a process where you learn to change your mentality towards food, fitness, and health.

Tips For A Healthy Lifestyle:

  • Be more active: You don’t need to go to a gym every day. Find an activity that you enjoy, even if it’s just going for a walk.
  • Enjoy your snacks: There is nothing wrong with eating processed snacks, just try and learn to portion control. You’ll soon find that you don’t actually enjoy eating them that much.
  • There are no mistakes: Just because you ate something unhealthy doesn’t mean you failed. There are no bad days or cheat days. You’re learning how to incorporate more exercise and less snacks in your life, not to get rid of them completely.
  • Be kind to yourself: You are doing the best you can. Even if you are moving slowly, you are still going towards your goal, and that should be appreciated and celebrated.

Have a positive mindset and stop restricting or being hard on yourself. You’ll find that the more you start focusing on changing your lifestyle and habits and less on starting a new diet, the happier and more successful you’ll be.

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