Dieting, if it helps at all, is a short-term fix: Almost everyone who goes on a weight loss diet regains any weight they lost (and more) within two years. For long-term and sustainable results, say health experts, focus instead on healthy living and preventing weight gain.
6th May was International No Diet Day, established in 1992 to challenge attitudes that contribute to chronic dieting and body dissatisfaction. It’s not a day to “sit and eat cake all day long”, says Terrill Bruere, dietitian at Jean Hailes for Women’s health; “It’s more about deciding not to participate in a culture where everyone constantly discusses dieting and food and is preoccupied with their weight”.
“Aim to stay active, fit and healthy to help your weight stay where it should be”, says Bruere; “Don’t focus on diets to try and lose weight. Live well in the world instead.”
Professor Jane Fisher, Director of Research at Jean Hailes, says people often have an anxious relationship with food, which is only exacerbated by dieting: “We shouldn’t feel there are foods we can’t have, and we shouldn’t be worried or ashamed about eating certain foods.”
Some simple lifestyle changes to help you avoid a lifetime of dieting include:
- Keep simple, healthy snacks close by (e.g. fresh fruit, nuts, low-fat yoghurt) – have one in the afternoon so you don’t get home starved and eat the first thing you find.
- Reduce portion sizes – most food servings are bigger than they need to be.
- If you eat out, take control – check what the food contains; ask for less sauce, cream, cheese, etc; and remember you don’t have to eat everything on your plate.
- Eat slowly, and stop when you start to feel satisfied, not full.
- Don’t eat on the run or in front of your TV or computer screen; if you’re distracted, you won’t notice when you’ve had enough.
- Don’t mistake thirst for hunger – Have a glass of water first; if you’re still hungry, eat.
- Any physical activity during the day is worthwhile – it keeps your metabolism working.
- Be confident with your body – focus on your health, not trying to achieve a ‘perfect’ appearance.
Published with the permission of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health