Why you should quit dieting for weight-loss
We've all tried them, Atkins, Keto, Paleo... And if you're a certain age then maybe even the "Cabbage Soup Diet". But do any of these so-called 'diets' lead to long term weight-loss? In most cases, the answer, sadly, is no. They may provide a short-term fix, but in the longer term, the pounds often slowly creep back on.
In fact, evidence shows that dieting is actually linked with a higher risk of weight gain. Many of you will know from bitter experience that if you try a diet – maybe a friend has tried it and had great success, or maybe you've seen a celebrity who is advocating it and showing off their transformation – you will likely lose some weight. Hearing success stories helps you to decide that this is the time to really make a change and you commit yourself wholeheartedly to your new regime. And the initial weight loss is great and you feel really pleased with yourself! But after a few weeks, you realise it's not sustainable. Events get in the way, life gets in the way and after a few busy weekends or a holiday, you find it hard to return to a regime which had you denying yourself certain food groups or the things you love. Slowly, you return to your normal way of eating and over time, the pounds creep back on.
This is what I refer to as the 'diet rollercoaster', and something I hear from many of my clients. I speak to so many clients – female, in particular – who have tried numerous approaches, only to regain the weight they lost and sometimes more. This leads them to feel like they are the problem and the failure, with their self-confidence and happiness dented. They often end up believing that nothing will work for them, or that they are not capable of losing the weight they seek to lose.
Changing how we look at diets
This is why we need to reframe what we see as a 'diet'. When you look the word 'diet' up in the dictionary, the first meaning is: "The food and drink we consume on a daily basis", and the second meaning is: "A limited amount of food we eat for medical reasons or to lose weight". If we were to focus more on the first meaning and embark on a diet that is for life and provides us with all the nutrients we need to thrive, then we'd have much less need to focus on the second definition.
A great way to look at your diet is to ask if you can still see yourself eating the way you're currently eating in two years' time. If the answer is no, then the chances are that it's not a sustainable diet for you long-term.
It’s also important to recognise that we are all different. We don’t all respond in the same way to the calories we consume and we don’t all undertake the same amount of daily movement or exercise and get the same amount of sleep. What works for one person may not work for another, and this is why nutrition and lifestyle coaching can work so well. Through a number of in-depth consultations, a coach can get to know you individually. They will get to know your routine, and your likes and dislikes. Together, you can explore what has or hasn’t worked for you previously and why, and look at what the barriers were to making sustainable changes.
It's also important to not look at one factor in isolation. When we think about weight loss, we immediately think about food. And although food will be an important factor, there are others which will play a crucial part. Stress, sleep and movement are vital when looking to improve health or lose weight. For example, when you are stressed and you don't sleep well, this will impact your food choices the next day and make it much harder to stick to a healthier regime. This is where a nutrition and lifestyle coach can really benefit you, as they look at all of these lifestyle factors in detail and work with you to make changes to those that will help you achieve your goals in the best way possible.
How working with a nutrition coach can help
So how does a nutrition and lifestyle coach help you to achieve these long-term, sustainable changes? They will use a combination of their specialist knowledge in nutrition and lifestyle factors alongside their coaching skills to assist you in making small changes which add up to help you achieve your goals. After a couple of sessions, where you will discuss you and your history, you will develop an action plan for the future. In the sessions that follow, you will discuss how each action step is going and if you need to make adjustments or try something else.
During the course of these sessions, you will increase your nutritional knowledge, such as learning how to plan your meals better, understand what constitutes a healthy and balanced plate of food, dispel myths and cut through all the confusing information out there. You will also learn how to make better choices and, if it's what you want, lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way.
The end result will be a set of habits you can stick to for life, but it is important to have some wriggle room – we are all human at the end of the day, so treating yourself is important. Enjoying food is important and there is always space within your new healthy lifestyle to do the things you love.