Why Diets Just Don’t Work
When someone mentions to you that they are on a diet, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? In most cases, we start thinking about what they aren’t allowed to eat on their diet and the dreaded word – restriction (shudder…) We also might try to picture ourselves and our ability to restrict ourselves on a diet like that. We ask ourselves ‘they cut out breakfast and wine on weekdays and it seems to be working, I wonder if I could do that?’
Dieting and a restriction-based mindset can be effective at reaching short-term weight loss goals or to help you get back to an old body weight. And no doubt about it, if you want to lose weight you will need to eat less calories than you are burning off (more on that another time). However, thinking about foods that you can’t have can create an overall negative outlook on nutrition. Life isn’t much fun if you are never allowed to eat breakfast or drink wine again, and that kind of restriction isn’t sustainable for most people.
Stop Restricting, Start Adding Instead!
So let’s flip the script and think of things we can ADD to our lifestyle that will help us reach our goals! Here is a brief list of what can be added to your daily life TODAY!
1) Add Water – water does so much in our bodies, more than we realise. It keeps us cool, it helps our blood flow and brings nutrients to the rest of our body, and it is required for many of the billions of little chemical reactions that happen in our bodies every day. That water gets used up and we need to replace it. If we don’t, we are making it harder for our body to do its job.
2) Add Foods RIch In Vitamins & Minerals – in addition to water, our body also uses up vitamins and minerals for various processes like helping us to see, think, move, speak, and breathe – you know, important things. And large percentages of North American populations are labeled deficient for these same vitamins and minerals. Common deficiencies are Vitamin B, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Zinc, and Magnesium, among others. Look to add more foods to your day that are high in these vitamins and minerals like fruits and vegetables. Even better, eat a wide range of foods that cover the full spectrum of these deficiencies! My favourite easy hack is to buy 6-8 different vegetables, toss them in some oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them, rotating in some new vegetables I haven’t tried every week. Simple and effective at getting a broad range of nutrients from several sources.
3) Add Protein – eating enough protein is important for growing muscle, and it’s also important for keeping the muscle you have when trying to lose weight. If you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet your body will start breaking down muscle tissue to get the protein it needs. Protein needs will be different for everybody, but a simple starting guide is to aim for 0.8g of protein for every 1lb of body weight. That means if I am 100lb I would aim for 80g of protein, and if I were 200lb I would aim for 160g of protein per day.
Lastly, you can take this mindset with you into other areas of life outside of nutrition. Instead of thinking about what is being taken away from you, can you reframe the situation to see what you can add or what is being given to you?