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Dieting vs. lifestyle changes

If you have ever had the goal to lose weight, you have probably tried to diet. However, there is a difference in watching your diet versus going on a diet. And there is a difference in going on a diet versus changing your lifestyle. If you're looking to lose weight and be a healthier you, it's time to look at your lifestyle instead of the latest diet trend.

preparing a salad

The difference between diet and lifestyle

The biggest difference between going on a diet and changing your lifestyle is that a diet will always be short term, no matter how long you stay on it. While you may see the results you want on your diet, chances are that when you go back to "normal living," your weight will come back too. Diets, more times than not, are about restrictions, limitations, and cutting foods from your diet. But when you think long term, cutting out foods permanently doesn't seem like a very realistic option. 

A lifestyle change is long term, completely changing you're life. For example, if you like to enjoy a late night snack, a diet might have you completely cut out that food while a lifestyle change would be figuring out the best way to fuel your body. That might not mean cutting out that food, but maybe not eating it right before bed, and eating less of it. 

If you're looking for results that will stick, it's important that you work towards a lifestyle change.

Why fad diets don't work

Most diet plans consist of short term changes that can lead to  fast weight loss. Often times, this means cutting calories, eliminating food groups, and depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to run at its best. And while you may get the results you are looking for, you have a higher chance of falling back into old patterns when you stop following the diet so strictly. 

The basics of diet plans can be cutting calories, carbs, and fats. Your body needs the right amount of calories. It needs carbs. It needs fats. There is no one way to change your lifestyle that will work for everyone, but it's important that that is what it is -- a lifestyle change.

How to change your lifestyle

Your first step should be determining your goal -- why are you making this change? If it's for weight loss, think about what your end goal looks like. Don't settle on the "perfect number" because when it comes to getting healthier, it's not always about the number on the scale. Once you have your goal, think about how you live now and what changes you will need to make in order to reach your goal. This could be drinking less soda, eating healthier alternatives, and moderation. Rather than cutting things from your diet, find out how you can make them healthier or stick to the portion recommendations; don't overindulge. 

Other helpful tips to change your lifestyle include:

  • Control what you can. If you eat when you're emotional or stressed, find something new. Instead of turning to food when you're stressed, try going for a walk or picking up yoga. If you eat when you're feeling sluggish, try a short nap or finding an exercise to boost your energy.
  • Practice mindful eating, not restricted eating. Mindful eating is taking a deeper look into your eating habits. Eat slower so you're body can recognize when it is getting full, and don't let yourself get over-full. Add in new foods like leafy greens or lean proteins. Examine menus for healthier options when out to eat. 
  • Stay motivated. A long-term change is just that: long term. You will not see results overnight but if you stick with it -- you will see results that will last. One of the biggest differences between lifestyle changes and diets is purpose. Diets can help you lose weight, but if you're goal is to be healthier, finding your purpose can help you stay motivated for a lifestyle change. 
  • Take charge at home. If you do the grocery shopping, buy things that will nourish your body, not just satisfy a craving. Spend more time in the produce aisles than the processed food aisles. Cook at home, and enjoy trying new recipes. Incorporate more fruits, veggies, proteins, and healthy fats into your diet. Plan ahead of time: meals, what you will eat at restaurants, snacks for a trip, etc.

The results of a lifestyle change are worth it, but it won't be easy. And starting will always be the hardest part of the journey. If you aren't sure where to start, talk to your health care provider about goals and nutritional changes that will work for you.

HMR at Logansport Memorial Hospital 

HMR is more than just a diet. This program offers a convenient and nutritious plan of HMR foods and fruits and vegetables to set the path of long-term success. The plan is designed around starting initial weight loss while building healthy behaviors to make lifestyle changes you can live with.

Our health coaches can help you get started, and work with you to continue success long after reaching your initial goals. 

Learn more about HMR »

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TOPICS: Health, HMR Program