Which One Works? – Dieting vs. Healthy Habits

Certain diets have been scientifically proven to help you lose weight, and may provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing your risk of several chronic diseases and keeping your body healthy. That is, if they are followed for the long-term. However, making major changes can sometimes seem very overwhelming and may be short-lived and not sustainable. Instead of making drastic changes to your diet, it may be better to start developing healthy eating habits.

What is the difference between dieting and healthy behaviors?  And why does it matter so much?

Diet-related Behaviors are Limiting

Dieting may work, but it’s ultimately about deprivation — focusing on what you shouldn’t have.  It often involves a set of rules where foods are either good or bad and people become good or bad for eating them.  How often do you hear someone say they were “good” or “bad” on their diet based on what they ate that day?

Another characteristic of dieting is its focus on weight.  Dieters weigh themselves frequently and feel more motivated with each new pound lost. The problem is when the weight plateaus, as it typically does, the motivation to follow the diet plateaus right along with it.

Worst of all, dieting is often met with the eventual period of splurging (on the “bad” foods) and the lost weight is often regained and sometimes more.  In fact, two-thirds of people who diet gain the weight back quickly.

Healthy Behaviors are Liberating

Healthy behaviors are small changes that occur over time.  Instead of following rules about good or bad foods, you learn how to balance all foods in your diet.  The small steps allow you to make changes that work well for you.  When it comes to healthy habits, there is a constant shifting and re-prioritizing that never stops.

People that continue lifelong healthy behaviors are not motivated by weight. Instead, they see how much better their lives are, and, as a result, are motivated to continue. Weight is still part of the equation but far from the most important factor.  The healthy behaviors become a preferred way to live instead of an obligation.

Finding a Healthy Balance

As you can see, completely overhauling your diet all at once can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, try to incorporate small changes to make your diet healthier. Try to keep your portion sizes reasonable, while adding nutrients and adapt to healthier behaviors. This will make a big impact on making your overall diet healthier and more sustainable, without a huge change in your habits.

The bottom line: Dieting is limiting, leaving people with few choices, while healthy behaviors expand choices, increasing the likelihood of success.

Feeling Sick or Need a Check-Up?

Starting a new healthy eating and exercise plan? Be sure to check with us first. Also, if you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.