Weight loss is one of the most fraught topics most people can imagine, up there with traditionally controversial subjects like politics, religion, and money – but why is it such a hard thing to talk about?
The fact is that everyone has a different approach to weight loss and, at the end of the day, the majority of those strategies don’t work. That’s because most weight loss plans are based on different forms of extreme deprivation, rather than on a balanced approach to nutrition.
In reality, though, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, deprivation isn’t going to work.
What can you eat if you want to lose weight? At the end of the day, the answer is – everything! Even if you have specific, health-based restrictions, such as following a low-glycemic diet because you’re diabetic, you can still craft an approach to food that allows you to eat the things you love.
Why Diets Don’t Work
In order to understand why eating what you love is actually a good diet practice, it helps to recognize why most diets fail. The reason: diets are designed to help you lose weight as long as you are actively restricting. As soon as you move into the “maintenance phase” or stop the diet, the weight comes back. When you create a meal plan that puts you at just a slight caloric deficit without the psychological stress of deprivation, though, the practice stops feeling like a diet and becomes sustainable.
From Diet To Lifestyle
When we approach dieting from the perspective of a lifestyle practice, which is another way of defining diet – that broad sense of the many things one eats, rather than as a strict regimen with an intended outcome – we transform the practice at its core. Rather than any of the trendy diets or apps, your goal should be to eat a diverse, nutritionally complete diet, building balanced plates that fuel your day.
This approach to weight loss is not only emotionally and physically fulfilling, but it prevents a lot of the nasty side-effects of conventional diets, which can lead to rebound weight gain above your starting weight, GI inflammation, and various nutritional deficiencies.
There’s a reason you constantly want to binge or have “cheat days” when you’re approaching diets as a deprivation practice, and that’s because you’re actually missing out on important nutrients and, of course, calories.
Need Structure? Consider “Lifestyle” Diets
If you desperately need some structure to help you start losing weight or to start approaching food in a healthier way, you have a few choices. You might consider a “lifestyle” diet like the Mediterranean diet, which really just reflects specific cultural foodways that have been found to be especially healthy.
You might also consider visiting a nutritionist or dietician who can help you explore what you currently eat and what you might like to change to feel better on a day-to-day basis.
Ultimately, when it comes to dieting, what no one tells you is that at the end of the day, it’s all maintenance – in other words, it’s a lifelong practice. You can’t live your life in a constant state of avoidance, such that you can’t have a piece of cake at your child’s birthday party or go out to dinner with friends.
You need to make room for the things you love. Emphasizing nutrition instead of restriction lets you do that.