Friday, April 15, 2011

8 really relevant questions to ask about your diet

There are hundreds of diet plans available, through clubs, books, clinics, pharmacies, the internet - even on your cereal box! There are hundreds of medications available - and these pills and potions usually come with a diet sheet, too. All of these companies advertise that their plan/pill/potion is the plan/pill/potion that really works! And most of them do, indeed, help you lose weight... You're waiting for the 'but'... BUT at what cost?

Will you really drop a dress size in a week?
As a rational, reasonable, intelligent being you can't believe this one!

Will you be satisfied with the food you're allowed to eat?
It doesn't matter how many delicious options there are on the permitted list, the mere fact that there are 'forbidden' foods leaves you with a sense of deprivation and dissatisfaction.

Will you keep your temper?
Restricted and reduced nutrition lead to irritability and an inability to cope with stress.

Will you keep your sense of humour?
Feelings of deprivation, dissatisfaction, irritability and stress contribute to depression - which is definitely not funny.

Will you be able to keep up the regimen?
Well, as long as the weight is coming off, you will probably be motivated to continue. But once you hit a plateau - generally in the third or fourth week - the whole idea is probably going to go out the window. And you'll get despondent.

Can you afford the continuing financial cost?
Pills and potions are expensive - they have to be. No return customers for these products, because once you've tried them you probably won't buy them again.

Will you keep your health?
This is the most important question. Many pills, shakes and meal replacements are full of synthetic additives, e-numbers, caffeine and artificial sweeteners. Some of them even contain toxic drugs. The side effects can be numerous: insomnia, nausea, altered blood pressure, blurred vision, diarrhoea... to name but a few. Is that healthy?

Will you keep the weight off afterwards?
The straight answer? With no behaviour modification? NO.

We all know at least one person who has gone on a diet, if we haven't gone on one ourselves. I personally have started many different diets through the years. And finished them. And put all the weight back on again afterwards. With interest! It's called 'yo-yo dieting'.

People who know me know that I avoid using the word 'diet' whenever possible. In colloquial English, the word has negative connotations. It implies feelings of deprivation. It implies forbidden foods. Going on a 'diet' implies a begining and an end. And this last sentence shows just where the problem lies. Not so much the 'begining', but the 'end'.

We start a diet, usually with good intentions and high motivation. We intend losing x pounds/kilograms. When we finish the y-week plan, or when we get to goal weight, we stop the plan. And gradually resume the eating habits that made us overweight in the first place!

The only way to lose weight, and keep it off, is to modify the way you eat now. That means making gradual healthy changes to our food choices. And then making those changes stick. 'Forbidden' food lists shouldn't feature - we still want to be able to indulge ourselves occassionally, don't we?

Sorry, it's not a rapid weight loss strategy - there's no such thing - but it is worth the time and effort.
For your health. Which is everything, right?

I'm not anti diet clubs - they can supply advice, encouragement and camaraderie. But in the end, you're on your own. Is your club teaching you anything about nutrition?

The sentiments and opinions expressed on this blog are my own. You are entitled to your own opinion, too. If you have had a healthy experience with a diet plan or pills, and you have lost weight and kept it off for at least a year after stopping the plan/pills, I would love to hear about it. Bet you didn't do it without changing your old eating habits.

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