Every year, there’s a new fad diet that’s said to work better than any diet ever before. The idea behind the latest diet is always that the work is minimal, the weight comes off fast and stays off for good. Sometimes these diets come packaged with expensive supplements to get the job done.
As many lifelong dieters know, these quick fixes never work in the long run. If weight loss is your goal, consider using these tips to take a sustainable approach to health.
Build Slow Habits
One of the problems with fad diets is that they don’t teach lasting lifestyle habits. Additionally, they promote significant changes within a short period of time. Humans are creatures of habit and thrive on routines. Change is a huge challenge, and real change doesn’t happen overnight. These diets often set people up to fail in the long run.
Instead of taking the quick fix approach, give yourself time to slowly build habits that will change your lifestyle. For example, rather than cutting out sugar, adding tons of protein to your diet, and drinking your body weight in water, choose one thing to start with. Then, pick one action based on that thing. Instead of making all of these changes at once, start with a week of adding protein to your breakfast. The next week, start adding a glass of water to each meal.
Building habits slowly makes it easier to accomplish your goals without overhauling your entire existence in just a couple of weeks. It also creates routines that you’ll gravitate back to if you get off plan.
Add Instead of Subtracting
Another problem with many fad diets is that they focus on restriction. While it’s true that reducing your calorie intake is a part of losing weight, it’s not realistic to sustain a restricted mindset for months.
Before you start looking at what you should cut out of your life, consider what you should add. Start your exercise program before you cut out your daily chocolate bar. Focus on adding water before you start limiting night snacking. By adding healthy habits to your life, you’ll start to replace the unhealthy habits in a sustainable, positive way.
Focus on Improving Digestion
There are various underlying issues that can limit your success with weight loss. Unfortunately, fad diets rarely dive into those issues. A few common underlying issues include vitamin deficiencies and poor digestive health.
Think of it this way: if your body isn’t processing food properly, then you won’t get the nutrients you need when you eat. Taking weight loss probiotics to help reintroduce healthy bacteria into your gut can help improve your digestive health. It’s also worth looking at your fiber intake and focusing on proper hydration. Water helps food move through your digestive tract easier and can help improve satiety.
Get in Touch With Hunger Cues
The long-time dieter no longer has a connection with natural hunger cues. There are also various occurrences and societal impacts that shift how we recognize hunger in our bodies.
For example, if you grew up in a house in which you had to eat everything on your plate, you may not recognize when to stop eating. Conversely, if you see a lot of food marketing, your body will start to cue your hunger, whether it needs food or not. Other impacts include dehydration signals being misinterpreted as hunger, eating while distracted, and much more.
The best way to get in touch with your hunger cues is to practice mindful eating. Remove distractions (your phone, TV, etc.) while eating and focus on the meal. Chew slowly, and think about your food as you eat it. Slow your pace by putting down your utensils between each bite or having a sip of water. Finally, when you first feel the cues that you’re getting full, stop eating. It can take up to 20 minutes for your body to realize that it’s satisfied.
It’s worth practicing mindful eating habits well before you start another diet. You may find that you start to recognize when you’re truly hungry or just bored, thirsty, etc.
Prioritize Movement Over Exercise
Similar to fad dieting is the annual influx of “the new best exercise.” If you struggle to stay consistent with an exercise program, ditch the word entirely. Instead of hopping from training method to training method, consider focusing on movement instead.
Consider how you can incorporate more movement into your day. It could be something as simple as vacuuming the floor, parking further from the door, or just 10 minutes of stretching. Taking this approach will start to boost your metabolism and get you ready for a more targeted approach. If you jump into an intense exercise program and your body isn’t ready for it, you’ll burn out quickly.
Again, try adding more movement before you start focusing on changing your nutrition habits.
Identify Your Triggers
Another key to successful weight loss without focusing on dieting is to identify your triggers. Your triggers are the events that inspire you to eat when you aren’t hungry. Triggers can be something as obvious as stress or emotions or something more subtle like sitting down and turning on the TV at the same time each night.
Once you know your triggers, you can focus on replacing them with healthy habit loops. For example, if your trigger is turning on the TV and grabbing a snack, consider skipping out on TV time for a few weeks and replacing the activity with something else. When you come back to the TV, your mind will no longer associate the activity with snacking.
Get Some Sleep
Sleeping routines are one of the most overlooked opportunities for improving weight loss. Sleep deprivation causes hormonal disruptions that impact how the body digests food, holds onto weight, and recovers from workouts.
Before you start cutting carbs and drinking turmeric teas, take a look at your sleep habits. Focus on creating an environment that promotes healthy sleep by removing distractions (i.e., no more scrolling Instagram in bed) and improving your comfort.
With these simple changes, you can start to promote healthy, sustainable weight loss without engaging in diet culture. Shift the focus to holistic health, and the rest will fall into place.