Should you Change your Diet Habits?

What are the differences in the diet habits of people who are close to their ideal weight and those who need to lose more than 20 pounds? Clearly, those who are within 10-15 pounds of their ideal weight are doing a lot of things right, and perhaps just need to get to adjust a few things about their diet or exercise routine. Those who are at (or are close to) their ideal weight are practicing a lifestyle, or a series of routines that keeps them from gaining extra weight. The difference between "dieting" and developing a new lifestyle is huge - but it's the step that people who want to reach their desirable weight must make.

"Do" or Diet?
There is a lifestyle associated with healthy or desirable body weight. Regardless of age, sex, body differences, and any other factors like work, school, stress, and personal relationships, people who maintain a healthy body weight have very similar habits. They don't "diet" in the traditional sense. They just "do"- they tend to eat the right amount of food for their body weight, and the foods they choose tend to be lower in fat and calories. If "dieting" is what people do to lose weight, why don't people who are at their goal weight have to diet? The answer ...

...Diets don't work
Most diets are designed to be a temporary fix - a means to an end instead of a true answer to preventing weight gain. Diet pills, formulas, rigid diets that eliminate or reduce certain foods, or require the purchase of packaged meals work only in the short term because that is what they are designed for. No one can realistically expect to stay on such diets indefinitely. So, once the "diet" is over, the weight returns. 

Compare this to what people who have maintained a healthy body weight do. They tend to eat normal food. 
They don't eliminate or drastically reduce carbohydrates (like many diets do), and they aren't consuming large amounts of animal fat, meat, and dairy products like the popular low carbohydrate, high fat diets propose. People around the world have been able to maintain healthy body weights by eating a variety of real foods, not diet foods, and they don't have to take special supplements, pills, or packaged foods to do this.

Most people who are at or near their desirable body weight are not spending their whole day at the gym.  
Instead, most people are moving more throughout the day than their overweight counterparts. They walk instead of ride, stand instead of sit, take the stairs instead of elevators, and enjoy physical activities as hobbies. These are everyday habits, and not extreme. The habits that lead to healthy body weight are not all that drastic!

Compare to Weight Loss That Does Work...

New Habits
A good diet plan will help you lose weight AND maintain it. That requires that the plan itself be one that helps you develop new habits - those universal habits of people who are successful at maintaining a healthy body weight for life.

There are some very distinct habits of overweight people. These habits are practiced over time, leading to weight gain. Some of the most common weight gain habits are:

  • Eating without being hungry (using food as a substitute for other things, emotions, etc,)

  • Choosing dense, calorie rich foods

  • Eating beyond a sense of comfortable fullness

  • Spending more time being sedentary than moving

Chances are, the more "weight gain" habits a person has and the longer they have been practiced, the more overweight the person is. Think about your "weight gain" habits and how often you practice them.  The habits that lead to good weight maintenance are also developed gradually - they take practice, too.

Any diet that promises...
to "melt fat away" or instant results without effort is missing the vital component of habit change. It won't work in the long run, and is a waste of your precious time and investment. (This includes most weight loss programs!) Keep it simple, and make changes that you can agree to fit into your life right now and make them your new habits.