According to a poll recently published in The Independent, the typical person will have attempted 126 diets throughout their lifetime. Many of us are willing to jump on just about any bandwagon with the promise of improved health or a slimmer waistline — but sticking to a new regimen is often easier said than done — and making it a permanent change is even more difficult. In fact, the average diet falls to the wayside after only six days. So how do we know when the right diet for us has come along? Here are some clues that can tell us we’re on the right track.
Diets that attempt to oversimplify the weight-loss process by promoting low-fat or reduced-calorie processed foods are likely to undermine even the best of intentions. By being highly processed, they may only increase obesity risks. One of the most significant indicators that a diet will be successful is that it doesn’t rely on gimmicks or shortcuts — and what is processed food if not a food shortcut? Remember, “diet food” manufacturers are in the market to make money, not lose customers.
Our bodies need real food, including various proteins, fats, fiber and a long list of vitamins and minerals. Without the right fuel, nothing can function properly, including human metabolism. The more processed a food is, the less likely it is to meet our nutritional needs. We can tell we’re on the right track if we’re making the bulk of our meals at home using whole, unprocessed ingredients that include a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables.
One of the easiest ways to derail any diet is to keep or add excess sugar into the equation. High amounts of sweetener can cause changes in the gut that promote obesity. A diet is more likely to succeed if we cut out sweetened drinks and other sources of excess sugar.
We might not know how important a healthy balance of fats is to getting or staying healthy given that there is an abundance of misleading information out there. In truth, consuming the right types of fats can help promote heart health, reduce inflammation and lower autoimmune risk for some people. Remember that there are fats in vegetables and we can get plenty from sources that don't include animals or oils.
The best diet is no diet at all — though that’s not a suggestion to eat whatever we want without any care or thought. Overwhelming junk food addictions have led many of us to believe we must take an all-or-nothing approach to our food choices. More importantly, we’ve been misled into believing fad “diets” can actually work.
So the biggest indicator that a diet can succeed is that it’s both healthy and sustainable. Any eating pattern with a start and end date on the calendar is doomed to fail, so we have to make sustainable changes we can accept as something we incorporate into our lifestyle for good. If you feel as though you're being deprived, it'll probably be impossible to maintain that over the long run. Food is fuel, and when we start to appreciate and focus on what we need over any convenience items we think we want, real and lasting change can become possible.
Diet affects more than just our weight; it’s the cornerstone of good health. One failed diet after the next does nothing to benefit us long-term, so finding healthy but feasible eating patterns is crucial. We can improve our chances of success by being open to healthy new choices and considering our overall health goals in the process.
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