5 dumbest diet mistakes: #5

September means new beginnings to lots of people, including dieters.  If your New Year’s or swim suit season diet resolutions didn’t work out so well.  you can start over in September.   It’s a very good time to review why those resolutions failed.  This week, I’ll present my Top 5 Dumbest Diet Mistakes, starting today with #5 — calling it a “diet”.

By calling your new eating plan a diet, you immediately slap a Temporary stamp on it.  Diets, by definition, are short term.  Another unfortunate aspect of diets is that they’re usually faddish: weirdly restrictive, with rules about so-called bad foods and rigid eating routines.  But possibly the worst aspect of diets is diet food.  Many diets rely on magical shakes or meal replacements or supplements, stuff you’d never ever eat in normal life.  Which makes the diet abnormal.  It’s something you do for a short time, and then you’re supposedly cured.

In reality, no one is ever cured of overweight.  Weight has to be managed for life.  That’s why the temporary diet mentality is a recipe for failure.  It sets you up to eat strange, possibly disagreeable foods for a short period of time and then go back to what you were eating before, which is what made you overweight in the first place.

Here’s another problem with the diet mentality: you associate weight control and health with foods that are boring, bad tasting or just plain weird.  You do not learn to manage weight with a permanently healthy diet and lifestyle.  You don’t learn to appreciate healthy food, and you don’t learn how to manage food choices and portions to maintain a healthy weight, while still enjoying what you eat.  Until you learn how to incorporate real food into a healthy lifestyle that promotes healthy weight, you’ll be stuck on the diet yoyo train.

Finally, like it or not, the word “diet” sounds like punishment.  You weigh too much, and now you have to go on a diet to do penance for your eating sins. You can’t have foods you like. The tone is all negative.  And that’s not a good way to start a new healthy lifestyle.  Health should be positive, not negative.

Action steps:

  1. Don’t tell people you’re going on a diet.  Here’s what you say: “I’m trying to eat healthier.”  That’s it.  The rest is none of their business.
  2. Don’t focus on feeling deprived.  Think about healthy foods you can eat.
  3. Don’t grab for the latest fad diet advice as a crutch.  Fad diets didn’t work for you before; what makes you think they’ll work now?
  4. Best of all, you can start eating healthy today and feel good about it right away.  If you’re on a diet, success is somewhere in the future, when the scale hits some magic number.  Live and eat in the present.
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