It’s hard to truly count the number of fad diets that have come and gone over the years. Actually, out of curiosity, I did a simple Google search for “fad diets” to see what popped up. Of the 11.5 million results, I chose a simple article labeled “25 Fad Diets”.
Here’s a look at some of the mentions in the post:
The Gluten Free Diet
The Meal Replacement Shake Diet
The Cabbage Soup Diet
The Atkins Diet
The Paleo Diet
The Zone Diet
The Mediterranean Diet
The Liquid Diet
The South Beach Diet
The Optavia Diet
And this is only 10 of the 25 listed in the post. And that’s only 25 of 25,000 that have blessed us with their presence over the years.
I’m not pointing this out to give you flash backs of past failures. I’m sure, like most people, you’ve tried and quit at least one of the diets mentioned above. No, the reason I point this out is because, although each one of these diets claims to be different than the other, there is one thing in common that curses each and every diet from day one.
What’s in a Word…
In American society, there are certain words that are correlated with specific thoughts and feelings. For instance, when I say the word “Kleenex” you think “tissue” or “blow your nose”. Or, when I say “Dentist Appointment” you might think “choking” or “miserable” (maybe that’s just me).
The point is, when you connect a certain word to an idea, anything that is connected with that word is also going to be connected to the idea.
In the health & wellness world, there are a bunch of words that follow this pattern. For instance, if I simply say “cardio” you probably think “treadmill” or “boring” or “long”. In nutrition, there is one word that kills all hopes of progress from the beginning, and that word is “Diet”.
Why the Word “Diet” is Cursed
Let me ask you a question, how many diets have you been on in your life? 3? 5? 10 or more?
Do you even know what a diet is?
Well, the definition of “diet”, thanks to good ol’ Google again, is “the kinds of food a person, animal, or community habitually eats”.
Now, there’s a word in this definition that I want to point out. And, ironically, this word is the polar opposite of what most people define as a “diet”. The word that sticks out is “habitually”.
When I say “you need to try this new diet”, does that sound like I’m convincing you to create a habit of eating this way for a lifetime? No. Generally speaking, when someone talks about starting a “diet”, they’re talking about doing something short-term.
And here is where we find the commonality between all diets ever created. The word “diet” in and of itself has a feeling of short-term use for quick, fast results. While, oddly enough, a diet is truly the habit of eating the same foods over and over and over again.
What You Need to do Instead
So, while I cannot disconnect the feeling that you get when you hear the word “diet”, I can give you a paradigm shift on what you should focus on instead of “dieting” in general.
You see, the problem with, well, most diets is that they’re not sustainable. I mean, the cabbage soup diet…really?! Who can eat cabbage soup always and forever?! And since these diets carry the feeling of only having to do them for a short period of time, it’s unlikely that they’re going to leave any lasting impression your long-term health & wellbeing.
A good practice, then, when it comes to deciding to make nutrition change, is to decide if the changes you’re thinking about making can fit into your LIFESTYLE. Because so many diets have restrictions, they are hard to maintain over the long haul. Which is why you should focus on creating true LIFESTYLE change over short, instant-gratification change.
In order to do this effectively, there are 3 questions that you should ask yourself whenever you’re thinking about implementing a new nutrition strategy:
#1) Is this something I can do for rest of my life most of the time?
Notice I said “most of the time”. Most people think that, when they’re told to not eat dessert, they’re not a loud to have dessert ever again…ever! When, in fact, you can choose to have dessert on occasion when you feel it’s right and necessary.
I, for instance, LOVE brownies and ice cream. However, I don’t eat brownies and ice cream…most of the time. I only eat it when I feel like it’s right and necessary (I copuld certainly convince myself it’s necessary more often if I wanted)!
#2) Can I implement this strategy without having to disrupt my life in a big way?
You shouldn’t have to make a significant shift in your life to change your nutritional habits. Yes, you might have to stop buying Twinkies and HoHos, but you shouldn’t have to neglect your friends and family.
#3) Does the change you’re making improve your life in a positive way?
This seems like a stupid question but let me explain. When most people diet, they’re absolutely miserable. How many times have you heard “I’m doing a low-carb diet right now and it sucks” (or something to that extent)?
Changing your nutritional habits should not be miserable. Yes, it will be hard at times. Yes, you will have cravings periodically. No, lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. Keep this in mind the next time you decide to jump on the next cabbage soup diet.
So, take these questions into account as you move forward in your quest for ultimate health & vitality. Remember that habits are much easier to sustainable to radical diets. They just take time.
And, like all things good in life, it’s worth taking time to do things right if you want long-term results.
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