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Dieting vs Lifestyle changes: How to Establish Lasting Change

Dieting vs Lifestyle changes: How to Establish Lasting Change

Americans are no strangers to dieting. Over 45 million Americans embarked on some form of diet in 2020. Yet, according to experts, nearly 2/3 of them will end up gaining the weight back later on. While it may seem counterintuitive, it turns out that dieting isn’t actually the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off. Let’s take a look at why lifestyle changes are better than dieting for achieving long-term weight loss. 

Problems with dieting

The biggest problem with diets is that they prioritize short-term weight loss over long-term success. Most people diet with a specific goal in mind, like a vacation, wedding or prom. To get those quick results in time, most diets use heavy restriction methods, like severely limiting calorie intake or cutting out entire food groups. Cutting out foods can help you drop pounds in the short-term, sure. But the second you go back to business as usual, the weight comes right back. It’s called the infamous “yo-yo effect”, and can lead to metabolic damage

The language of dieting culture can also shift the way you think about food. Different foods get labels like “good” or “bad”. This makes “cheating” on your diet not just a failure of discipline, but a failure of character. You feel like a bad person if you indulge in a donut in the breakroom or order fries instead of salad with dinner. The guilt can cause you to double down on your commitment to reducing and restricting. After all, it’s your fault for having no willpower—you just need to try harder. 

This can lead to a cycle of binging and restricting that can damage both your physical and mental health. Dieting doesn’t teach you how to think about your health in a sustainable way. The evidence is clear. If you want to establish lasting change in your life, you need something more sustainable than a short-term diet. 

Lifestyle changes for long-term success

Rather than the restrictive mindset of dieting, making lifestyle changes involves establishing healthy habits that you can keep up long-term. Instead of giving up your favorite foods entirely, you find a place for them in your routine where you can treat yourself without going overboard, like having an ice cream cone on the weekend or a glass of wine with dinner once a week. 

When you create a framework where you’re allowed the occasional indulgence, sweets and junk food lose their “taboo” appeal. This makes you less likely to overindulge when you treat yourself, and the guilt goes away too. You didn’t commit a moral failure by “cheating” on your diet—you only ate a food that you were craving. 

To make the transition easier on yourself, start out with gradual lifestyle changes that you can keep up with every day. Try taking a walk on your lunch break, adding an extra serving of greens to your day, or replacing your mid-day candy break with an all-natural protein bar

It may seem insignificant, but small changes add up fast. Experts recommend aiming to lose 1-2 pounds per week for lasting weight loss results. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. When you let go of a restrictive dieting mindset, you can live a balanced life free from stress or guilt, and enjoy the lasting results of a healthy lifestyle. 

Gradual lifestyle changes lead to more sustainable results than restrictive dieting. Changing your daily habits is one of the best ways to achieve sustainable weight loss. And if you’re looking to add a new healthy habit to your routine, replacing candy with an FGP bar is the perfect place to start.