By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD
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Tried multiple diets without lasting results? It could be time for a whole new approach to the way you think about dieting. Here are nine ways to think differently next diet so it's the last diet you ever start.
1. Commitment… not wishes
Gordon Livingston is a US psychiatrist and writer who often asks his patient's whether their latest plan to do something different is a real expression of intent of simply a wish. If you've tried many diets without permanent results, perhaps you were just wishing you could stay in shape. Perhaps you just didn't have an important enough reason to keep at it.
Commitment is a far stronger force that helps you stick at your diet when wishes fade. Reducing health concerns or being a good role model for your children are both strong reasons to commit to a better diet. Why is it really important to change your diet and what changes to can you commit to this time?
2. Planning… not memory
Just because you are committed doesn't mean you'll automatically remember to eat well. Making a plan of what to bring for lunch, knowing who is cooking tonight or how to manage food at your weekend party are all good plans. Until you automatically remember the healthier option, make a plan, even if you have to make a plan to remember to plan.
3. Habits… not willpower
The British hypnotist and life coach, Paul McKenna said, “Habits and imagination are more powerful than willpower and logic will ever be.” Habits are those automatic patterns we establish early in life to save ourselves hours every day not having to relearn how to get dressed, clean our teeth or drive a car to work. Building positive eating habits, like taking fruit for lunch can become new automatic patterns that decrease the need to reply on willpower and memory.
4. Targets… not goals
It's important to have goals driving you when it comes to career and finances. But when getting into shape, the pressure of a 20 pound weight loss goal can sometimes be just too scary. Setting targets, which are daily and weekly behaviour changes can be more motivating because they are more easily achieved. Why wait weeks or months to celebrate your success? Meet your targets and larger goals follow more naturally.
5. Clarity… not confusion
The basics of a healthy diet have not changed for decades or even centuries. Eat more fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and eat less fatty and sugary food. These clear, simple messages and rewarding dietary targets often get lost in the confusing clutter of slimming pills, potions and lotions. Don't let duelling diet gurus and the ensuing confusion constipate your efforts. By not chasing and buying into the latest fads, you open a clear path to sustained results.
6. Arguments… not excuses
“I'm addicted to chocolate…. I can't stop at one… and I just had to finish the plate”, are all diet-related excuses for overeating. Psychologist, Dr Martin Seligman, PhD says we need to challenge the excuses we offer ourselves for negative lifestyle choices. You really aren't addicted. You can stop at one. And you didn't have to finish the plate are examples of statements he suggests we use to rationally argue back. The next time you hear an excuse in your head, ask if there is an alternative and more positive argument.
7. Satisfaction… not depravation
Knowing to eat to the point of being satisfied is a skill that often requires relearning as adults. Years of overeating or breaking the feed limit can make it hard to put the brakes on a meal times. Dieting can then deprive the pleasure, fullness and fun in food. By eating slowly, listening carefully to your stomach's satisfaction signals you'll be better equipped to find a balance.
8. Parameters… not temptation
Dr Phil of Oprah fame believes we don't cure obesity. Instead, we manage it. This means establishing a new healthy lifestyle that will support our efforts to get into and stay in shape. If you have a history of social eating tripping your diet, set some personal parameters. Limit when you involve food in your social situations. Let others know alternatives to bringing food to the party. Reducing tempting situations can be more productive than constantly resisting temptation.
9. Flexibility… not perfection
Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” What he meant was striving to have everything correct and in order can get in the way of being good at something. Aiming to be good at your diet may actually achieve you a better average nutrition score than being perfectly fat-sugar-caffeine-alcohol-free for four days and then in a rebound fast-food frenzy for the next four weeks. With so much temptation around, try good for a while and see how it works.
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