Why do diets fail?
How many times have you complained or felt guilty about not following a diet? And how many times have you said, “I’ll start again Monday”?
Those who have tried to diet are all too familiar with the kinds of thoughts that threaten adherence to a dietary regimen. The word diet, in itself, refers to a restrictive and negative idea, linked exclusively to slimming, but diet literally means “lifestyle”, in the sense of psychophysical wellness.
To ensure that the word “diet” is understood properly, it is necessary to educate people about the nutritional value of food while also recommending appropriate physical activity. Another factor that should never be overlooked is the psychological aspect: learning to be aware of the meaning of food as such, and not using it as an antidote to anxiety, boredom or stress.
What makes a diet fail is the nature of the thoughts we allow to encroach upon it: thoughts rooted in control, limitation, sacrifice, denial and renunciation. Thoughts that turn everything into a punishment, rather than a process of education and awareness.
Let’s look at some common obstacles to slimming.
Too little variety and alternatives
If you think that being on a diet means giving up aperitifs, dinners with friends, snacks, your social life suddenly seems to have breathed its last. But it’s not absolutely necessary to give all this up: just put into practice some basic rules of substitution!
It is the task of the expert you choose (diet doctor, dietician or nutritionist) to assess your dietary problems and help you to devise alternative strategies for maintaining good habits over the long run.
It is true that healthy cooking requires a little more time and attention, especially when shopping. It is therefore useful to have a basic nutritional education that allows you to make the correct substitutions among food categories, which in turn opens the possibility of a more flexible diet, suited to every situation.
Eating too little
There’s a big difference between eating well and eating enough. It can happen that a dieter eats smaller portions of a well-balanced and varied diet, but then finds that the needle on the scale isn’t moving any closer to that magical number they strive for. At this point, people tend to wonder what went wrong, why isn’t this diet working? This inevitably leads to further restrictions in both kind and quantity: “I’ll cut out bread, even if it’s allowed”, “I’ll eat only veggies”, “no carbohydrates”. Nothing could be more mistaken. Restricting an already low-calorie diet can lead to a reduction in metabolism, causing the body to lose muscle mass instead of fat. This leads to a metabolic stalemate which is difficult to overcome. Carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber should be taken at every meal. Contrary to popular belief, if you choose to completely cut out carbohydrates from your day, it will be almost impossible to lose weight!
Eliminating too many foods
There are no good and bad foods, but there are appropriate portions and recommended frequencies of intake in order to live well. Often diets force you to renounce many foods, but it’s not always smart to give up some of them, especially if you enjoy them and crave them (within reason).
An unbalanced diet without foods that you enjoy makes you sad and irritable. The resulting negative mood induces you, in the long run, to think of those prohibited foods as a reward. The desire for them is experienced by the dieter as an unforgivable temptation that must be resisted at all costs. Indulging then leads to guilt, and this makes you feel worse and worse. It creates a spiral, a vicious circle, which can only end in feelings of failure and discouragement.
Therefore, be a little kinder to yourselves. It is much more effective to prepare meals that include foods you like, which creates gratification and strengthens the process.
Focusing on food, without exercising
Many people think that to lose weight it is sufficient to follow a low-calorie diet, without thinking about physical activity. Proper diet, adequate exercise, and sufficient sleep all must be addressed simultaneously to activate the metabolism and ensure a healthy and lasting weight loss. Therefore, no to excessively restrictive diets, and yes to balanced nutrition and increased movement.
Not drinking enough water
Often neglected, water is fundamental for losing weight. Our bodies are made largely of water, and to stay health we must drink sufficient quantities of the precious liquid throughout the day.
Ideally, we should consume at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Water shouldn’t be confused with other drinks that actually cause dehydration, like sugary carbonated soft drinks, coffee, and alcohol.
Patience should not be underestimated. Particularly among women, who tend to set a weight loss goal and try to achieve it quickly. Any slimming regimen requires faith and patience. The body sometimes slows down in response to stress, to the challenges we force it to face, to exercise: if it has been fed and exercised improperly for months or years, we can’t expect our body to achieve our goal in a week. It requires commitment. Steadfast commitment. Which makes it all the more satisfying, when we reach our goal, to be able to say, “I did it!”.
Tell us about your diet. How is it going?