How many diets have you tried?

This is a serious question; take a moment to reflect on the answer.

How many? Several at the very least, right?

Why aren’t you still following the first diet you tried? Heck, why not the second, third, or possibly fourth diet?

These questions are posed to my clients and the most common answer is because the diet was too strict and unrealistic to practice for an extended period of time. For many the diet led to obsessive eating habits, and for some binge eating behaviors because they felt deprived from having a list of foods to avoid from said diet.

So they gave up. The diet was too strict, exhausting, sometimes expensive, and they abandoned the diet and began looking for the next big thing.

But here’s the crucial point …

Another diet is not the solution to problems created from a previous diet.

If your previous diet caused you to binge eat, develop disordered eating habits, made you obsess over everything you put in your mouth, led you to punishing yourself with exercise when you gave in to temptation, or other self-defeating actions then why would you look for another diet to fix these issues?

It’s worth repeating: another diet can’t fix the problems from a previous diet.

This lesson I learned the hard way, as have many of my clients and readers of this website. “I abandoned the last diet because it said to avoid dairy and I landed face first, bellybutton deep into a tub of ice cream. So then I began the search for the next one I would follow.”

In other words: “This diet didn’t work because it wasn’t practical or sustainable, so I’ll try another diet.”

Doesn’t make a bit of sense, does it?

Ditch Diets. Choose Habits.

Want to stop thinking so damn much about food? Would you like to maintain the results you achieve from changing how you eat? Want to no longer have a list of “good” and “bad” foods?

Fantastic! Ditch diets and embrace the habit-building approach. A terrific place to begin is the article The Diet That Has No Name.

The basic idea is this: make a single, ideally simple, change to your eating habits that can have profound effects over time. Once you nail that habit, make another simple change. Focusing on one change for at least 30 days straight is a good guideline.

Here are some options to get you started:

  • Increase the amount of fresh (or frozen) fruits and vegetables you eat every day. Add a salad to your lunch, include an apple with breakfast. It doesn’t matter how you do it – just do it.
  • Drink water with your meals instead of calorie-laden beverages. Instead of sweet tea or soda, drink water. Don’t obsess over this! If you like half ‘n half and sugar with your morning coffee, don’t nit-pick. It’s counterproductive to obsess over small things. Choose your battles wisely.
  • Include a good source of protein with each meal. This isn’t exclusive to animal sources either. You should include plant-based protein sources like beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, quinoa and other grains.
  • Swap out a processed meal/snack with minimally processed choices. Maybe you eat a pastry for breakfast or make a convenient meal from a box for dinner. Just change one of these daily meals for a minimally processed, real food option.

Resist the temptation to scoff at those habit-based changes and dismiss them because they’re “too simple”. That’s the entire point. Remember, you’ve already tried numerous diets. The solution is not another diet. Try the habit-based approach instead.

Eating well, improving your health, and achieving your physique goals needn’t be complicated. Ditch the complicated diets and commit to trying the habit-based method.

With Love From the Trench Kitchen,