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How to Avoid Fad Diets and Set Healthy Lifestyle Goals

Somehow, someway, the words diet and fad have become synonymous with one another. When you think of diet, you think of 30-day challenges. You think about the no-carb diet, the no-meat diet, the eat-like-a-caveman diet and the what-are-you-kidding-get-rid-of-gluten diet.

But those aren’t diets. Those are fads. In order to actually find success with losing weight – and keep that weight off – you need to avoid fads entirely, and stay true to an actual diet.

Here’s what we mean:

A fad is something that remains popular for a short amount of time (like bell bottoms). These fads typically end up delivering short-term results.

A diet, on the other hand, is the kind and amount of food you should consume, based on your unique circumstances.

The issue with most fad diets is that they restrict your calorie intake, which delivers results in the short run as excess water and body weight are lost. But eventually, this caloric deficit ends at a weight-loss plateau, and results tail off. Most folks are disheartened when they hit this plateau. They think to themselves, “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do. Why can’t I lose more weight?”

That’s when most dieters abandon their fad diet and return to old habits. They not only gain back the weight they lost, but they often times gain even more weight.

The cycle begins.

Here’s why you stop losing weight and gain back even more when you turn to fad diets: for a while your body will lose weight, but over time, it will learn how to become more efficient at this new lower caloric intake level, which means you’ll stop losing weight. Your body has learned how to fully function with less fuel in its system.

Not only that, but now that your body has adapted to its new intake. When you return back to normal eating habits, you pack on even more pounds than before.

So how do you avoid fads and yo-yo dieting so you can actually see long-term results?

Fad diets can be helpful in achieving short-term weight loss, and can be a great first step into moving into a longer-term weight loss process.

But in the end, fad diets are a gamble, and can set you up for failure. Balance and moderation is the best way to enjoy long-term weight loss. The issue with this approach is that results are not immediate. In fact, it can take a considerable amount of time to see the impact on the scale, but the slower the weight comes off, the less likely it will be to come back (unlike fad diets).

Here are three tips to help you resist the allure of fad diets and, instead, develop a healthy relationship with your food.

1. Make gradual changes to your diet, based on research

There is no magic pill or food to help you lose weight. Each individual has unique needs. You should research all potential dietary options alongside a trained professional, like a nutritionist, who can guide you toward the best decision for you.

Once you find a diet that works for you, make the changes gradually, so that your body can adapt, and so you’ll be more likely to maintain this new habit.

2. Consume in moderation and cook

Be mindful with your eating. Snacking is a surefire way to pack on more pounds. And, as much as possible, do your own cooking. That way you can control the ingredients you consume.

3. Eat for pleasure

This may sound like the opposite of what a diet should be, but it’s important that you maintain a healthy, happy relationship with food. That doesn’t mean eating steak and potatoes every night. It means savoring the sight, smell, taste and sounds of food – and food preparation.

Eating for pleasure means trying out new culinary concepts. It means experimenting with new ingredients and combinations, which in turn helps us develop our own familial food culture that will help us, and our loved ones, eat healthier for the long term.

Diet fads come and go. But if you want to develop habits that stick well beyond the short-term, then it’s time to kick those fads to the curb and develop habits of moderation and balance. Above all else, and whenever possible, we strongly encourage you to work with a nutritionist, who can help you develop a safe and fun dietary plan designed to give you the results you deserve.