Diets and Healthy Eating

by Kyle Washburn

Health & Fitness Editor

Thursday January 17, 2013

There are many diet options out there. From Atkins to Zone, and everything in between including Biblical, Blood Type, DASH, Mediterranean, Paleo and South Beach, people turn left and right to find the eating method best for them. Rather than delving into each method, the parameters, requirements, calorie and nutrient counts and reasoning, let's focus on healthy eating and not dieting.

People diet to achieve a range of results from weight loss to increased energy to improved mood and body composition changes. No one diets for enjoyment. We all must eat. We enjoy trying new foods and eating familiar foods as well. We have patterns and learned behaviors through years of life. Hence there's the challenge to change those eating patterns and taste buds.

The main struggle for people dieting is the constant attempt to stick to the requirements to achieve results, followed closely by the feeling of guilt for consuming something not allowed on the program. We all want to succeed. Yet most people fail when dieting. So we not only feel badly about ourselves for needing to diet in the first place but even more so for not diligently following the diet plan.

Most people who go on a diet, achieve successful weight loss or reach their goals, put back on the weight and more. Yet a small percentage of "dieters" succeed for the long term. Their success is attributed less to dieting and more so to a changed relationship with food and healthy eating.

Moderation is always the key. When you diet, you deprive yourself of certain foods, usually foods you enjoy eating. Instead of completely removing those foods from your nutrition plan, limit those foods.

Once you completely remove a food from what you allow yourself to eat, you naturally begin to crave it even more. Slowly start to reduce how much and how often you eat those foods. After some time your body will no longer want those foods as often.

It is also important to recognize that portions play a large role in how much you want versus how much you need to eat to satisfy your body's needs. Try to eat smaller portions more often. This allows you to eat a little more if your body continues to send hunger cues, yet also prevents you from overeating. When we do this, we stretch our stomachs, which allow more food to fit in the space the next time we eat. As this cycle continues we start to store what we have consumed throughout our bodies thereby increasing our weight.

A final point I want to make and iterate is that most people on diets fail. Few actually achieve short-term results. Those who do achieve positive results find it extremely difficult and almost impossible to maintain them. The reason is that after they achieve success, they slowly ease off the diet. Diets are meant to be followed for life. So instead of being so restrictive it is better to follow a moderation eating plan.

I end this article acknowledging that there are outliers out there. Some people have achieved lifelong results through diets. Yet I would be willing to bet that it is a constant struggle. Instead I advocate for moderation.

Kyle Washburn is the National Health and Fitness Editor at Edge Publications, Inc. He earned a BS in Physiology, M.Ed in Sport Psychology and Counseling and an MBA. He is a certified personal trainer through NASM and ACE and has been training for over ten years. He is an avid triathlete, softball and tennis player, runner, hiker and enjoys the outdoors.