Each January, people in the U.S. and increasingly other countries resolve to lose weight, making weight loss the #1 New Year’s resolution. And as magazine articles, diet books sales and enrollment in weight loss diet programs attest to, weight loss diets remain the #1 way people try to achieve their goals.
Why is it that weight loss diets persist, even though most of us agree they don’t work in the long run? It’s simple – they seem to work in the short run. Most of us can recite the many diets on which we’ve lost weight. Unfortunately, we can also detail the weight we’ve regained when we went off the diets.
Healthy Eating: Why Do Weight Loss Diets Seem to Work?
What is it about diets that seem to work, even if only temporarily? They organize our eating, reducing our choices and taking away the need to make decisions about what we eat, ultimately reducing our intake so we lose weight. With an extreme diet, we lose weight at the cost of good nutrition, but a well-balanced diet can provide us with the nutrients we need for good health and healthy weights.
So why not follow well-balanced weight loss diets? Because we don’t learn the art of making choices based on what we really want or how a food makes us feel. Weight loss diets give us ‘external’ rules that are basically inflexible, making them difficult to follow long term. When we learn how to make our own decisions about what we want to eat, that is, “internalize” our decisions, we can be more consistent and ultimately successful in making choices that support us in achieving health and healthy weights.
Healthy Eating: Structure Can Help Us Learn What We Really Want
Structure is defined as ‘how something is put together,’ how it’s organized. Many, if not most, weight strugglers don’t eat in an organized or structured manner. They eat erratically, often skipping meals, choosing items based on their calorie content, not on what they want to feel satisfied or what they need to supply their bodies with essential nutrition for good health and healthy weights.
A consistent structure can provide a guiding light – a basic organization that helps formerly chaotic eaters experience eating well so they can begin to internalize a style of eating that makes them feel well.
Adopting a consistent structure can seem like a diet at first. Upon initially hearing how Green Mountain encourages us to structure our eating, many women remark that the “eating plan” seems similar to weight loss diets they’ve followed. The difference lies in learning how to want to eat this way, instead of feeling like we should or have to. This is key to establishing a lifelong healthy eating pattern.
Designing a Structure for Healthy Weight Loss Success
A successful structure for healthy eating provides a framework for supplying our bodies the fuel and nutrients we need when we need it. Try these basic pointers for designing and successfully adopting a healthy eating structure that can help you achieve a healthy weight and stay there.
- Eat when you are hungry, and most of the time, don’t eat when you’re not hungry. Aim for at least three meals a day, with one or two snacks if you need them. Read our FitBriefings “Mindful Eating: What Is Intuitive Eating?” and “Mindful Eating: Eating What We Want & Loving the Result” for more on this.
- Eat well-balanced meals that contain at least two of these three types of food: Protein Foods, Grain/Starchy Vegetables, Fruits &/or Vegetables. Ideally, you’ll have all three types of foods in most of your meals. Our FitBriefing “The Plate Model for Healthy Eating” gives you an easy way to do this.
- Keep track of your eating initially. Research shows when we write down what we eat, we’re more aware of our choices and how we feel. That helps us make more supportive choices. Many of us are traumatized from the judgment implied in diet food records of old; we felt guilty when we ate something we weren’t “supposed” to eat, so we didn’t write it down, and eventually gave up with the recording. In a truly healthy eating plan, the only food that’s off-limits is something that we decide we don’t want because it doesn’t sit well with us. It’s our choice, and hence, much easier to decide (although it is a learning process and missteps do occur as we learn what we really do and don’t want). View it as a way to help us stay aware, not as a way to “control.”
- Reach out for support. It can be tough to change our eating style, especially when those around us continue eating in an unhealthy manner. There are plenty of folks, however, who have already successfully adopted a healthful eating style, and are more than willing to support others in the effort. And there are plenty who are engaged in the process of change who can form a support group. Reach out, too, for help such as in preparing meals; personal chef services or cooking clubs help ensure regular, healthy meals. Don’t know how to cook? Television cooking programs or DVDs such as First Kitchen can teach you and be a lot of fun in the learning.
If you continue to struggle with establishing a structured healthy eating plan,
….consider visiting us at Green Mountain where you can spend time in an environment that is designed to help you do that, along with developing a fitness and behavioral program and to start thinking positively about the whole process of healthy weight loss and maintenance.