Dieting vs. Lifestyle Changes

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Dieting vs. Lifestyle: Change Your Way of Life and You'll Never Die Again!

Dieting vs. Lifestyle: Change Your Way of Life and You'll Never Die Again!

Do you want to lose weight, avoid chronic diseases, improve your gut health, or simply feel better in your own skin? If you answered yes, would you rather spend your life trying (and failing) on the roller coaster of dieting, or do you want to make long-term lifestyle changes that will benefit you for the rest of your life? Continue reading to determine your stance on the lifestyle vs. dieting debate!


What Exactly Are Lifestyle Modifications?

Lifestyle medicine is a rapidly expanding field with promising research demonstrating that making healthy lifestyle changes is the most effective way to achieve a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases.


What Is the Difference Between a Diet and a Lifestyle Change?

Lifestyle changes focus on long-term health rather than dieting, which focuses on short-term results that are not always sustainable. A lifestyle change, as opposed to simply losing weight, is more holistic, taking into account both physical and mental well-being.

The six pillars of lifestyle management are as follows:

  • a healthy diet
  • Getting enough sleep (6-8 hours)
  • 150 minutes of exercise per week
  • Complete abstinence from smoking
  • Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation.
  • Stress control


Nutrition Is Central to Changing Your Lifestyle!

What we eat determines who we are. Not only do we need energy to work, move, and live, but nutrients also help with digestive health, immune health, cellular repair, blood cell production, bone health, nerve regulation, and so on.

Food is our most powerful weapon in the fight against illness and optimizing our health! We are all aware that we require MORE fruits and vegetables, whole-grain carbohydrates, low-fat dairy, and healthy proteins and fats, as well as LESS processed/packaged foods, fast food, sugary beverages, alcohol, and salt.

But knowing what to do is one thing; doing it is quite another. Lifestyle changes can be difficult to implement at first, and it may take some time to integrate them into your daily routine. As a result, many people may turn to diets that promise "quick-fix" results (, which we know do not exist in reality). So, instead of focusing on your eating habits, how about focusing on your lifestyle habits?

Stats on Lifestyle Changes That Are Interesting:

  • According to research, even losing 5-10% of your body weight can result in lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
  • Good nutrition accounts for roughly 80% of weight loss, with the remaining 20% accounted for by the remaining pillars of lifestyle management.
  • Approximately 80-95 percent of people who lose weight through diets gain it back within 1-5 years.


What Is the Best Age to Begin Making Lifestyle Changes?

It is never too late or too early to adopt a healthy lifestyle and reap the benefits!

In your twenties 20

You'll probably get the most benefit from the preventative aspect. This is the time to improve bone and organ health, increase muscle mass, and establish healthy habits. This is the time to lay the groundwork and develop healthy habits that will serve you well for the rest of your life. Rather than embarking on the latest diet or detox, focus on improving your lifestyle.

In your thirties and forties:

You've probably tried a few diets here and there and are sick of the diet roller coaster. This is an important time to focus on improving your relationship with food and preventing excess fat gain, muscle loss, and bone loss that occurs as we age. Most importantly, now is the time to protect yourself from developing/worsening chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, liver and kidney disease, heart disease, and cancer.

Perhaps you want to have children, and nutrition can play an important role in fertility! Do you already have a family? Your children will pick up on your lifestyle habits, for better or worse, and the decisions you make now will have an impact on them.

When you're in your 50s and 60s:

  • You may be noticing physical changes (e.g., more fat around the middle), hormonal changes (e.g., post-menopause), and a slowing metabolism.
  • Growing older is unavoidable; however, many of the symptoms we associate with aging, such as weight gain or high cholesterol, can be avoided or managed through changes in lifestyle. This is a critical time to ensure that you are feeling your best and living the healthiest life possible. Furthermore, if you have any health conditions, nutrition can play a significant role in preventing them from worsening. Being healthier can help you cross items off your bucket list, enjoy your freedom, and spend more time with your children and grandchildren.

In your seventies and beyond:

  • You may find yourself eating less, taking medications, or dealing with health issues. Or you could be one of the lucky ones and be perfectly healthy, but you just want to enjoy your life to the fullest. Getting all of the necessary nutrients will be critical in this!


Dieting vs. Lifestyle Changes: The Drawbacks of Dieting

Many of our clients come in with a list of diets they've tried in the past in order to lose weight. And we hear it all the time: nothing has worked for them. Why is this the case? Is it due to a lack of motivation? Is it because they lack the willpower to stick with it? Certainly not!

Diets simply do not work for four reasons:

  • Diets are limiting and nutritionally deficient. Diets are frequently 'gimmicky,' requiring the complete elimination or reduction of whole food groups or nutritious foods such as carbohydrates or healthy fats below the healthy recommendations. The keto diet, for example, has grown in popularity in recent years, and while it may produce short-term weight loss, a lack of carbohydrates is harmful to your brain and digestive system. Furthermore, the high fat intake can lead to high cholesterol and liver problems, and last but not least, the keto diet may have an effect on hormones and fertility.
  • Diets are not sustainable: Most people can stick to a diet for a few weeks or months, but then they develop nutrient deficiencies, lose muscle mass, don't have enough energy to get through the day, and don't achieve long-term weight loss (keeping the weight off!). This can result in a dieting rollercoaster of losing weight, falling 'off the wagon,' gaining the weight back, and more, resulting in increased body fat in the long run.
  • Diets can be costly: Many of these diets include a plethora of 'health food' products and unnecessary (and unregulated) supplements, the majority of which are overpriced and focus on marketing rather than efficacy. Some, such as weight loss shakes and diet teas, can be extremely harmful as well as expensive (electrolyte imbalances, digestive issues, etc.).
  • Many diets take a "one-size-fits-all" approach, ignoring the fact that we do not all wear the same clothes, live in the same house, or have the same friends. So why should we all eat the same thing? This approach assumes that everyone has the same body, metabolism, genetics, health conditions, preferences, and lifestyle. This is simply not true, which is why we require personalized nutrition advice.


Dieting vs. Lifestyle Changes: What Are the Advantages of Making a Lifestyle Change?

Changes in lifestyle are not stifling: A healthy lifestyle includes variety, flexibility, and a positive relationship with food. It allows us to indulge in our favorite foods mindfully on occasion while also meeting our needs for energy, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals to ensure we live long, healthy, and happy lives.

Long-term lifestyle changes are more sustainable: Eating to nourish your body and incorporate a wide variety of foods, including allowances for your favorite comfort or treat foods, will help you maintain healthy eating habits for the rest of your life if desired! By breaking down your goals into manageable steps, you can make these changes one step at a time. Lifestyle changes do not promise magical overnight results, but they are supported by years of scientific research.

Lifestyle changes can be tailored to your specific needs! We (registered dietitians) study for so long in order to tailor our nutrition recommendations to each client! Nutrition, like any other health behavior, must be tailored to YOUR lifestyle, preferences, and goals. It will never work otherwise. Everyone is motivated differently, so focus on YOUR motivation for making a lifestyle change and let it guide you.

Lifestyle changes are less expensive: Eating a well-balanced diet does not have to be costly. There are numerous ways to save money, including purchasing grains in bulk, purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables, purchasing fewer packaged foods, and purchasing more locally grown foods.


THE RESULTS OF LIFESTYLE VS. DIET

Some people argue, "Well, why don't I just try the "ABC" diet and see if it works for me first?"

However, it is critical to consider what we hope to achieve as a RESULT of these decisions. Theory is one thing, but here are some of the outcomes we see as dietitians in practice:


Changes in Lifestyle

  • Weight loss is achieved in a healthy manner at 1-2 lb/week and can be MAINTAINED over time.
  • You'll have more energy to pursue your passions.
  • Higher self-esteem, confidence, and satisfaction with one's own body
  • An improved understanding of hunger and satiety levels
  • Better food relationships and comfort with all types of food
  • Food variety and enjoyment have increased (including socially)
  • Being a more positive role model for those around you (work, family, friends)
  • Become self-assured in making independent food choices and, eventually, go "off the meal plan."


Dieting

Weight loss can be too rapid (more than 2 lb per week), which can lead to a variety of other health problems, muscle mass loss, and weight gain. Negative self-esteem, as well as distorted and unrealistic perceptions of our own bodies

Develop unhealthy eating habits, such as categorizing foods as "good" or "bad." All foods have a place in a healthy diet, but diets tend to focus on 'avoid' lists (e.g., avoid chocolate) and can cause feelings of guilt and fear if the list is not followed. Obsession with calorie counting, avoiding certain foods or social situations, including food Low energy/fatigue, guilt, shame, anxiety, food phobia, and difficulty focusing on other things (e.g. work, socializing, hobbies)


Last word

If you want to make a long-term lifestyle change and improve your eating habits, contact one of our expert dietitians for help!


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