Why Fad Diets Don’t Work In The Long Run: An Approach To Long Term Health And Behavior Change
Healthy eating. Easier said than done for a majority of us. But what exactly is healthy eating? We have been programmed for years to consume at our convenience, in turn leading to the nature of poor habit. These habits pose a tantalizing notion to our health and its sustainability, thus requiring some sort of behavior change or reprogramming of what we have been taught. The habits of nutrition and eating must be carefully analyzed and assessed, to better cater toward your specific goals at hand. A program is only as good as your adherence to it, which is why practically must be a key component of the structure. I have compiled a list of the most vital factors in improving your well-being and body composition, starting from the ground up. (or in this case the head down.)
1. Build Credibility with the good (and the bad)
It is quite simple to say this food is valuable for me, or this one is detrimental to my health. Surface thoughts. These initial thoughts are just as crucial to your actual decision, as they will form the basis for which you act upon. You MUST provide SUBSTANCE to these initial thoughts when considering your options. It is often that we make questionable judgments based off of our immediate wants and needs. Just as if you were out to meet someone new, you more often than not will recollect your encounter with the person who provided substance to your conversation, rather than the monotonous passerby. Treat your body in the same manner just as you would search for substance in a partner and disregard the monotonous passerby who is wasting your time. The holistic habits worth working towards sustaining must be in tandem with a deeper underlying cause, rather than just good or bad. People will choose a fad diet to get immediate results and often question where they went wrong when they revert back to their pre-diet body. The matter of fact is a lack of mental preparation to sustain the lifestyle of healthy living and entering the program for a short term goal. The fight was over before it even started. Mental preparation is paramount to achieving a life of health and wellness, which is why I start with building credibility and mental preparation first and foremost. Learn how to attribute the feelings of pleasure to the progressive decisions you make and the feeling of pain and its underlying causes to the negative decisions. It is at this point you are bringing yourself that much closer toward your goal. The ability to attribute positive affirmations with each decision you come to face with is integral to your program adherence. It is not until you distinguish firmly between your pain and pleasure thresholds that you will find the happy medium of self-discipline.
2. Set weekly goals (small wins)
Mindfulness is the art of managing the present task. Whether it be an emotion you are looking to maintain control of, a decision or a project, each must be administered into smaller sub-units. Many a time we feel consumed by the heap of goals or tasks we set out to achieve, more often than not leaving us lost in translation. The solution? Become aware of these goals. Write them down then proceed to rank them. Once you have a visual representation of their importance you can then and only then break them down into smaller sub- goals.
Here is an example as follows:
- Improve body aesthetic. (Increase libido, sex appeal)
- Improve or maintain mental acuity. (Perform work at full potential, and increase overall production efficiency)
- Spend less money eating out (Provide yourself with more financial freedom toward traveling and other hobbies)
- Grant yourself the ability to explore new hobbies and tasks (Promote self-growth and confidence to overcome new obstacles)
- Aspire to Inspire others (Develop a sense of community, and to care for others)
In retrospect, the list may appear quite shallow, that is until you provide each task with an underlying meaning (as shown in parenthesis.) Create a column adjacent to imply what the attainment of these goals is really fulfilling in your life. To make these more attainable, create a goal within a goal. For example, if your priority is to improve body composition, a more attainable goal would be to increase water consumption. A well-hydrated body will improve metabolic function. The integrated systems within the body work as a unit and a harmful effect on one can create discourse throughout others.
3. Become an ingredient shopper
Remember the age old saying that looks can be deceiving? The same goes for food labels. Just because an item is labeled as organic does not necessarily mean that you should put your faith in them. What you can do, however, is educate yourself on how to become an ingredient shopper. Do some research on the ingredients that have been proven detrimental to your health , then double check your ingredient labels and put your knowledge to use to refrain from personal consumption.
Some ingredients I advise to remove from your diet and to increase your awareness on:
- Palm/ Canola Oils
- Corn syrup/ corn derivatives (sweets, Jell-O, fruit juices)
- Aspartame (juices, soda)
- Saccharin (canned fruit, soda, baked goods)
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole or BHT/BHT (Cereals, Baked goods, instant mashed potatoes, chips, butter)
- Artificial Colors (Drinks, sodas, yogurts, juices)
- Artificial Sodium Nitrates (Lunch meats)
- MSG (Vast majority of salty foods, packaged and canned foods)
Once you think of your body as a chemistry lab as opposed to the notion of a bank account (caloric input vs. expenditure) you will yield the greatest results. The human body is an intricate system that demands the cleanest sources of nutrition accessible for optimal performance. An unfamiliar substance such as a foreign ingredient may disrupt harmony within one or any eleven of the body’s interrelated systems. It is imperative to keep an eye on the composition of your food.
4. Find Balance
Accordingly, a key component of maintaining adherence to a healthy lifestyle is continuous improvement and balance. Kitchen sticklers are out of style. If you are short of time or run into an obstacle, it is not the end of the world. Focus on how you can make the best decision possible and use your education of ingredients to determine what the most viable option is. Kaizen, a Japanese word, represents the ideology of making small but continuous positive changes on a regular basis. Pick a goal high on your priority list, break it down, establish the good habit, then move on to the next. Productivity will increase and should become an inherent thought process on your journey. Focus on the small wins and the larger ones are inevitable.