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According to the CDC report1, there was a 14% increase in people dieting in America alone in 2017-18. There are different reasons why people go on a diet. It is either a requirement for a healthy life or a personal choice.
So before we indulge and tell you the 15 tips on how not to diet, here’s a brief idea of what is dieting and some of its types.
1. What is Dieting?
Dieting is an activity where you restrict yourself to a small amount of food or special kinds of food. This is done basically to reduce weight and there are varied reasons as to why you might need or want weight loss.
From wanting to look better to avoid obesity or any disease in general, dieting is becoming fairly common as it helps people to shift to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle with balanced food habits from their unhealthy practices.
There is no one ideal weight loss diet nor there are any specific criteria to enable weight loss. Rather there are specific diet plans which you can follow based on your needs and it is also important to mend them personally, for which you can always take the help of a dietician who ensures you get proper nutrition and a healthy permanent weight loss.
2. What are the famous Types of Dieting?
As mentioned above there is no ideal weight loss diet plan and you can make your own personalized one suiting your needs and wants. For a basic understanding, below are some popular diet plans.
2.1 Paleo Diet
In the Paleo diet, you eat foods that were consumed by humans in the hunting-gathering stage as current issues with weight and health problems are said to be associated with modern agriculture.
It basically includes plant-based eating. Some examples of food in this diet plan include whole foods, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.
2.2 Vegan Diet
This diet puts restrictions on all those food products that harm the animals. So the diet eliminates foods like meat, dairy, eggs and honey. This category mainly includes food plant-based diet.
2.3 Low-Carb Diet
As the name says, the diet limits carb intake. It includes food like eggs, green leafy vegetables, fish, and fruits like apples and strawberries. In this diet, it is aimed that the body would use the extra fats for energy rather than depending on the carb intake.
2.4 Zone Diet
2.5 Ketogenic Diet
The Keto diet focuses on low carbs but high fats. Food products in this category include seafood, meat and poultry and eggs. In case you are interested, here is an entire list of food items you should include in your Keto diet5 plan.
Each diet has its own pros and cons, and in the absence of any ideal weight loss diet plan, there are many plans and you should be mindful of which one to follow according to your personal needs. Below are 15 tips on how not to diet.
3. Common Mistakes While Dieting-
Although there are professionals for this purpose or you can consult your healthcare provider, you can easily make a diet plan on your own. That way you can adjust it according to your time, lifestyle, habits and needs. If you’re making a plan for the first time or are trying it after an unsuccessful attempt, there are chances that you are making a mistake in your plans.
There are thousands of youtube videos and websites helping you with how to diet but there aren’t many warnings on how not to diet. So here are 15 tips on how not to diet which can be your ultimate weight loss guide.
3.1 Do Not Skip Your Meals
One of the most mistaken notions or rather a new trend amongst people who aim for weight loss is to skip meals. You might think it helps with having a low-calorie density and enhance your health but skipping meals, especially breakfasts (which can be high in fibre and protein) leads to low nutrition and lethargy interfering in our daily activities.
It also increases your chances of quitting your diet since it becomes difficult and eat more at a time leading to an increase in weight rather than the opposite.
You can try having protein and fiber-rich breakfasts daily with meal prepping- if you get enough time to count and balance the calorie density and maintain a healthy weight.
3.2 Water is Not the Same as Other Drinks
While making a diet for yourself, you might overlook the calories consumed from drinks like soda, and coffee especially if it’s with cream and sugar, and juice even though they’re 100% fruit juices and alcohol.
One of the most basic criteria to enable weight loss is to always read the labels if possible and count the calories. Because a widely unknown nutritional truth is that- if unchecked, then drinks can lead to more calorie 6intake than solid food since they’re easy to digest.
While cutting out sugar from your drinks, ensure to drink more water. It helps in burning calories and fills your stomach. Dehydration can lead to low metabolism so make sure to drink enough water. If possible, drink water before your mealtime so you consume less food anyway.
3.3 Snacking Often
Snacks are an indispensable part of today’s lifestyle for many people. It has both pros and cons. The cons are that you snack unintentionally many times in a day so it might get unnoticed but you are eating more calories and not counting them.
For many munching often involves food like cakes and cookies which don’t make us full or provide nutrition but add calories. You should strictly track your calories and learn to control your temptations and discipline yourself to be mindful of every bite you take.
Pros include that frequent snacking has statistically helped many people with weight loss and stay healthy. It helps to keep your stomach full, makes dieting easier and lowers metabolism.
Snacking on healthy food also provides your body with basic nutrients and helps in dieting simultaneously. The best snack food for this purpose is said to be nuts as they are protein-rich. Other options include oatmeal or yogurt.
3.4 Not Taking Exercise Seriously
Dieting is done to get nutrients important for your body; the calories that might be included can be burned best by exercising. It is recommended that medium to high-intensity workouts for an hour for 5 days minimum a week are best for weight loss.
Both exercising and dieting are crucial to losing weight. In the journey of weight loss, you also lose mass, muscle and fat; the amount of that also depends on exercise. If you’re in the category of not exercising and only dieting, you lose more mass muscle and thus have low metabolism.
Exercising too much also causes stress and hormonal issues. It can negatively impact your body and you’ll be far from a healthy sustainable lifestyle. It’s essential to balance and know what exercises are enough for you.
You should keep track as to which exercise burns how many calories and thus keep balance. Some known exercises are cardio and weight lifting as it helps in muscle gain, high metabolism, physical function, strength and less belly fat.
Whilst keeping track of exercise and calorie burn it is important to understand that you are not overestimating. Various studies have shown how people have overestimated and lost track of their diet.
So it’s important to know that it takes time to see the changes. There can be minor mistakes but the assumption should be approximate and not more.
3.5 Expecting a Quick Fix through Crash Dieting
As the term says, crash diets are understood as a time period set aside where you consume minimum calories and thus lose weight faster. This new trend is harmful and does not really help with dieting or weight loss instead is one of the leading causes of low immunity and in extreme cases, malnutrition or starvation.
It has also been found that for many people as soon as the diet is over, they had more food than recommended and ended up gaining weight instead of losing. These crash diets sound good since it looks like you can drop weight easily but the method is unsustainable as well. Some other examples of similar practices include intermittent fasting.
You’ll have to accept that losing weight takes time and it does not happen without taking medicine or not having food for some hours.
3.6 Setting or Having Unrealistic Goals
Keeping track and setting goals is the first step of dieting. If you’re dieting for the first time or you have tried it before and were dissatisfied with the results, you might end up making unrealistic goals which may harm your future self only.
It is always better to set small, achievable goals which lead to higher goals and hence the expected outcomes. It is easy to follow and manage them as well. For example, instead of practising crash diets or intermittent fasting, you can opt for small meals throughout the day which helps with healthy permanent weight loss.
It was found in the latest research study that people who made their goal of losing more than 10% of their weight were less likely to meet the results, unlike people who expected only 5-7% weight loss.
If you are indecisive about setting the goal, you can consult a dietician too as setting unrealistic expectations leads to failure and de-motivation for the future too and if you are setting the goal in denial of accepting reality, you might never be able to start. Hence, if you’re getting started, better do it perfectly and that means realistically.
3.7 Removing a Food Group from your Diet (especially Dairy)
Although there are some cons to consuming full-fat milk or cheese, you should stick to low-fat or non-fat dairy for better results.
3.8 Following a Low-Fat Diet
When making a diet plan, according to your consumption habits, you might find yourself considering removing a food type from your diet completely to lose weight which can be harmful.
There is a higher chance that the food eliminated is the type you consume the most so it is likely that you will not be able to follow the diet for a long time as expected but leave in between or end up consuming more than usual and gain weight eventually.
You should note that no food is bad and the focus should be on finding the balance of nutrients and your food habits.
According to the latest research study, there’s a new trend that vegan or non-vegan, almost 50% of Americans don’t use dairy. One of the common reasons for some is that it leads to weight gain which is untrue. Dairy is the source of calcium and some studies have concluded that low calcium leads to more fat and calcium supplements are not as effective as natural dairy products.
One of the most famous opinions amongst people who diet is that they should only stick to low-fat food items. There are many things wrong if you practice this or are thinking to.
Firstly, there is a difference between low-fat and low-calorie. So, having low-fat food might make you think that you’re losing weight, but it can be one of the leading causes of your high-calorie intake and hence your weight.
As important as it is to include low-fat and low-calorie foods in your diet, you should also not forget their importance and shortcomings. Low-fat food is often sweet to make it taste better, and that sugar might make you gain weight.
Having too much low-fat in your diet can also make you feel hungry often and you might eat more than you normally do.
So the question is if you should avoid fats or include them. The answer is to balance. Low fats are important to cut off but also focus on the pros and cons of the substitute. Secondly, healthy fats should be taken like walnuts.
The basic part of 15 tips on how not to diet is to make a diet plan where the focus is on balancing and getting nutrition, including the case of fats.
3.9 Eating too Much Processed Food
The rise of the usage of the term ‘hustle’ during the pandemic in today’s capitalistic world shows the major lifestyle change. In this constant working life, following a good diet plan is of extreme necessity and what you might not realize is the fact that there’s a difference between a home-cooked meal and a processed can of food.
A warm home-cooked meal made of natural ingredients goes a long way that packaged foods can never. Giving up or partially giving up processed and packaged food is an indispensable criterion to enable weight loss and start healthy eating.
They are made with chemicals to make the food long-lasting, irrespective of how healthy they say it is in their advertisements or on the packet. The usual chemicals used in these food items are all the things that lead to weight gain which you’re trying to avoid so it is better to limit them as much as possible for sustainable weight loss.
3.10 You Have Too Many Food Rules
When making a diet plan, you can get motivated and make a strict plan. You can be strict with timings and places to eat and when to not.
As important and helpful as it is, you also have to remember that having too many rules and being strict with yourself might work for a short time and eventually, you’ll break those rules after some time. A healthy permanent weight loss is achieved through a journey toward a sustainable lifestyle and does not happen in a matter of some hours or a few days.
So if you break your rules often, maybe try to be lenient with yourself and make a new diet plan. The key to how not to diet is to be mindful of your eating habits rather than being harsh on yourself.
3.11 You Often Eat Out
If you eat out often, you can obviously still diet. Depending on your diet plan, you can always choose to order a salad or any healthy meal. Eating out often can be one of the leading causes that you will likely cheat on your plan and eat junk food instead.
You can opt for home delivery if you are more prone to eating junk food when eating out.
3.12 Giving Up on Carbohydrates
You might cut out carbohydrates from your diet after knowing about the popular opinion on how carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, but there’s a difference.
Carbohydrates are of two types- complex and simple- which make up all the differences in weight. Like many nutrition facts are unknown or unpopular, simple carbohydrates are the ones leading to weight gain but complex carbs found in potatoes, chapatti, oatmeal, and rice are needed for human nutrition.
3.13 ‘Healthy Food’ Might not be Entirely ‘Healthy’-
There are many healthy foods you might include in your diet plan but at the same time, it is important to know the extent of harm they can cause and accordingly balance that. Almost all major ultimate weight loss guide suggests ensuring the healthiness of the food you’re consuming.
For example, Greek yogurt and nuts are healthy and good sources of proteins but also have sugar and high-calorie density which make you gain weight.
Healthy foods are also advertised as healthy and their cons are rarely highlighted. When you include any healthy food in your diet, make sure to also count their disadvantages and balance them out in the diet plan so the harm caused is minimum and you get the nutrition.
You might also fall into the trap of healthy food options like protein bars and packages of‘ real fruit juices’ but they are packed with unhealthy ingredients and chemicals to make them long-lasting.
These healthy options can cause health problems in the long term and as they might be a better alternative than any other junk option but make sure to keep their consumption limited.
3.14 You Are Trying to Be Perfect
If you are going on a diet for the first time or restarting after some time, you might start off with great motivation which is a good way to kick-start your journey but you also have to accept that no journey is perfect.
The focus should be on balance and flexibility where you can have your fair share of dopamine by eating your favorite food and ditching the healthy ones. You cannot and should not expect yourself to leave your habits in one day and start eating perfectly healthy meals after one day or a month even.
You should start to be healthy slowly and increase the habit with time. This is the most sustainable way of losing weight unlike going on a crash diet and regaining the weight after some time.
3.15 Too Much Focus on the Scale
You might track your weight loss journey on a weight machine and always focus on the scale. In that case, you should know that weight is affected by various factors. There are chances that it might show weight gain or no changes in your weight even though the case might be the opposite if you’ve had water or any fluid.
In the case of a female, hormonal changes lead to water retention and it might show likewise on the scale. The scale might remain stable also because you could be gaining muscle because of exercise but losing fat as well. In such cases, it is more effective to measure from the waist and notice the changes in the body in the mirror.
The scale might be accurate about the weight at that moment and you might be losing weight all along, so don’t focus too much on the scale, even though it might be helpful in some cases.
Dieting is all about shifting your food habit from unhealthy to healthy ones. With the rise of packaged and processed food, you might’ve grown up eating unhealthy food items, and if not changed, they can cause some serious health problems. So it is important to start focusing on every bite.
More than one-third of American adults are said to suffer from obesity so it is natural that most diets are centred on the expectations of losing weight. There are many methods for weight loss, like exercising but naturally, the focus is on eating habits.
Although there are numerous ways to seek help on how to start your weight loss journey, you might not be able to do so if you’re not mindful of the tips mentioned above. There is usually a focus on things you should do when dieting rather than how not to diet.
Hopefully, the 15 tips mentioned above on how not to diet were an ultimate weight loss guide for you and it helps you to start or restart your journey of weight loss.
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