Why Dieting is Not the Answer to Losing Weight

Many people struggle with their weight and turn to diets to try to lose their extra pounds. However, dieting does not provide the best way to lose excess weight and maintain a slimmer, healthier physique. Even if eliminating certain problem foods like sweets or high-fat items leads to temporary weight loss, most dieters end up re-gaining whatever weight they have lost for a few reasons. Traditional diet plans eliminate or drastically reduce some of the foods that people enjoy eating most and cause the dieter to feel deprived of all delicious treats. Eating the same low-calorie meals each day leads to boredom, at which point giving up and going back to eating unhealthy foods becomes tempting. While a low-calorie diet will bring about quick weight loss, it often comes at the cost of low energy, making it difficult to get through the day. These factors explain why dieting is not the best answer to losing weight, and they do not offer a better alternative. Making small changes to promote an overall healthier lifestyle and incorporating both cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercise promote weight loss better than a traditional, restrictive diet.

Weight and height are used in computing body m...

Image via Wikipedia

Diets tend to emphasize eliminating high-fat and high-sugar foods like fast food hamburgers and packaged cakes and cookies, but there is a simple reason why people like to eat them so much in the first place: they taste great! While healthier foods like fresh fruits and vegetables can also tempt ones taste buds, packaged, processed foods tend to be convenient, inexpensive, and readily available. It takes more time to prepare a healthy, low-calorie meal than it does to pick up a sandwich and a soda from a drive-thru, and with most people working full-time jobs, it can be much easier to grab lunch and dinner from a restaurant than to go to the grocery store, pick out fresh food, and then spend part of one’s leisure time cooking it. Drive-thru windows provide cheap, ready-to-eat food and are so common that even the most well-intentioned dieter can become distracted on his or her way home and decide that spending a few dollars on fast food is faster and more convenient than having to cook. Instead of losing weight, the dieter may find him or herself staying exactly the same or even gaining a few pounds.

Food manufacturers and diet programs have noticed the desire for quick, easy meals and have responded by producing a wide variety of low-fat and/or low-calorie meal options. These options include traditional frozen TV dinners like those first made popular in the 1950s as well as newer choices like instant soups or packaged, pre-measured portions of tuna or pasta. Some diet programs even deliver prepared meals directly to the dieter’s home, eliminating the need to spend time at the grocery store. While pre-portioned, packaged meals are convenient and can provide healthier options than the fast food drive-thru, dieters often fall into the habit of eating the same foods every day. This may seem satisfying for a few days or weeks at a time, but before long, the thought of eating exactly the same lunch every single day feels boring and temptation sets in. The desire for a treat sets in and most dieters will find themselves succumbing to the temptation of chips, soda, or a piece of cake, and as one taste often leads to three or four, what started out as just a bite can turn into complete diet sabotage.

Even the most dedicated dieter, one who can battle the desire to go to the drive-thru or deviate from a set eating plan, cannot avoid another common pitfall of trying to lose weight by dieting: a lack of energy from eating too few calories. While reducing calorie intake leads to weight loss, trying to reduce weight more quickly by consuming a much lower number of calories than one is used to does nothing but make one feel groggy, sluggish, and miserable. This lack of energy can make it difficult to get through the day. At times like these, dieters tend to crave high-carbohydrate, high-sugar snacks for a boost of energy, and while eating a chocolate bar or drinking a soda might help one get through a long afternoon; neither will help with long-term weight loss.

If all of these factors make dieting so fruitless, how is one supposed to lose weight? Fortunately, there are alternative options for cutting back on unhealthy foods and burning extra calories. Making a few lifestyle changes at a time can lead to gradual, sustained weight loss. Begin each week with a new healthy lifestyle goal like drinking two liters of water each day, eliminating soda, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Focus on that one goal for the week, and by Sunday evening, it will have become habit. Hold on to the previous week’s changes in each subsequent week, and before long, healthy habits like drinking water and walking more will have become second nature.

Adding more intense exercise can bolster a weight loss program, too. Walking is the easiest form of exercise for most people to do, and even going for just a ten-minute walk can burn several dozen calories. Building up slowly from ten minutes of walking a few times a day to longer walks or even full-afternoon hikes can support steady, gradual weight loss, and once walking has become easy, fitness jogging or running can provide ways to burn calories even more quickly. Lifting weights will strengthen and tone a healthy new physique, and getting outside on a nice afternoon will inspire more fun activities like playing games or sports or going for a swim. The combination of lifestyle changes and exercise benefits will support and maintain gradual, healthy weight loss and prevent the problems that cause traditional diets to fail. Instead of trying to get rid of unhealthy foods all at once, focus on small, maintainable changes and get ready to see big results. Dieting to lose weight does not work in the long run, but picking up healthy habits and exercising can help one to achieve and maintain a healthy weight for years to come.

Leave a Reply