DIETING VS LIFESTYLE – CLEARING THE MYTHS

8 min


Both are very familiar and regular terms in today’s world. But there is a huge difference between them. We often tend to confuse dieting with lifestyle. To be frank, most of us don’t have a clear idea about it. In this article let’s understand dieting and clear some wrong ideas and myths about it. Let us also see what a good lifestyle with the right dieting looks like.

DIETING:

Firstly let’s have a clear idea of dieting. According to Merriam-Webster, it is more of ‘habitual’ nourishment. In other words, it is a food or a drink that is regularly provided or consumed. If we look at these two definitions, we can understand that it is regular rather than a routine. Let’s not forget to emphasise the words ‘habitual’ or ‘routine’.

But in our era, we like this definition more. It goes like, ‘a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight. And most of us have this idea rather than the former. It is important to understand that diets are just food rules that influence our pattern of eating.

BEWARE OF FAD DIETS:

Fad diets are nothing but extreme restrictions on food that promise a quicker loss of weight in a short span of time. Does it sound threatening and confusing? If so, you are headed in the right direction. Fad diets are harmful to physical and mental health.

HISTORY OF FAD DIETS:

Fad diets are not a very modern concept. It dates back to the ancient greeks and Romans. Apart from these, fad diets were also common in the early victorian era. They followed vinegar, Banting diets etc. Low carbohydrate diets were followed by the Atkins and the South beach diets were also popular. Even tapeworms and arsenic were consumed as a part of the diet.

IDENTIFYING FAD DIETS:

But, how to identify and get rid of a fad diet. Is it that easy like it sounds? Let us help you to find the answer to this. We are all lured by the ads on TV and other places that promise us quicker weight loss with less effort. First of all, this is not the right way for weight loss. Here are some tips to stay away from fad diets,

  • Firstly, if a diet promises on cutting out excess calories and an entire group of food (namely carbs, fats or proteins) there are high chances that it is a fad diet.
  • Secondly, advising you to follow only a specific form of food group. Providing you with cleanses, powder, nutrition bars etc. Just like us the body also requires variety. Let us remember the concept of a ‘balanced diet’ here. What does a balanced diet mean? It is a combination of a lot of food groups in the right amount to stay healthy.
  • Some of us might argue that cleanses feel good. Yes, it does feel good in the short run. But, on the other hand, does it promise and a healthy and fulfilling way to reduce your body fat. The answer is ‘no’. In a similar vein, food substitutes. All these substances make us feel good in the short run.

REASON BEHIND FAILURE OF FAD DIETS OR DIETING:

Be it fad diets or normal ones, these are the reasons sighted for the failure of diets. When we plan and stick to a diet, sodium is lost in the body until the body can balance itself out. There will be a temporary weight loss. This weight is the water weight. This gives us the feeling of a sudden and dramatic weight loss.

On the other hand, when we follow a high-protein diet, we tend to lose weight by dropping the overall calorie intake. Here the key is we tend to drop a wide variety of food choices. But, as time goes on, the body modifies the metabolic rate to the new changes it faces. The metabolic rate is lowered considerably. This drop in the metabolic rate lowers the effect of the diet over time. Further, if we drop or abandon the diet, there are high chances of reversal of the weight. Weight gain is much faster than weight loss.

Though diets are alluring it can be harmful in the long run. Hence, diets cannot promise a guaranteed weight loss. We can’t tell that diet and fads are totally wrong. It just doesn’t work for all.

TIPS TO ADOPT A HEALTHY AND BETTER LIFESTYLE:

Here are some easy ways that require a little effort to adopt but can serve useful in the long run. Before, heading on to these pointers let’s understand what an energy balance is. It is nothing but the cycle or balance between eating and activities (walking, jogging, exercising, etc.). In today’s world, this balance has pretty much become difficult to maintain. With the increases in the sedentary lifestyle and a lack of willingness to lose weight properly, choosing easy methods over the right ones is all seen as factors for an unhealthy lifestyle.

EXERCISE:

Exercise is a very important part of our life. We can be assured that diets alone cannot do the work single-handedly. Exercise could be any form of activity. You can adopt your most favourite ones and practise them regularly.

It can be good for your physical health. In addition, exercise provides better stress management and promotes good sleep at night. Ultimately, it leads to waking up refreshed, better food decisions, better energy to perform everyday activities etc. Moreover, this also makes us less prone to chronic diseases and conditions.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY:

It is important to understand this properly. What we eat is more important than how much we eat. For instance, mushrooms, lentils etc can be a good alternative to meat. They give us the same feeling of eating non-veg. In addition, they serve as a healthy alternative.

Non-veg is also a very good source of energy. On the other hand, it is better to avoid deeply fried or grilled foods. Try healthy alternatives like soups, steamed ones etc.

SWITCHING TO HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES WHILE DIETING:

Remember to keep it natural and healthy. Avoid processed food and try to consume whole unprocessed natural food as close to their natural state as possible. Try eating a lot of fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes and grains as they are very rich sources of carbohydrates. High-quality proteins and healthy fats like avocados, nuts etc., could also be consumed.

TAKING IT ONE AT A TIME:

As we already discussed, diet is not a short term spree. It is a long term commitment. Therefore, once you decide to go into a diet, give yourself the time and space to adapt to one. Changing over is not easy and it will take some time to figure out. It’s not necessary to drop off all your favourite foods at once. In this, the main challenge revolves around accepting the lifestyle. You are going to unlearn and relearn through this process. Dropping off a certain thing you have been following your whole life ain’t easy. So, take it easy and slowly, more importantly, one at a time.

CUSTOMISE YOUR DIET:

Healthy eating doesn’t look the same for everyone. We need to customise our diet according to our needs. All of us have different needs and different food habits. For instance, some of us may be vegan, some may prefer meat, others may be eggetarians or pescatarians. On the other hand, our age and the demands are varied and wide. For example, a student’s diet could be widely different from the diet of a middle-aged professional. Therefore, understanding our needs and providing our body with the same can go a long way in staying healthy.

PREPARING YOUR OWN MEAL:

This necessarily doesn’t need to be followed all the time. But, this is very important. By cooking or preparing your own meal, you tend to or feel obliged to stay healthy. You are also responsible and know the ingredients that go into preparing that meal.

This point is especially advantageous for those people with allergies. You can be more careful with your meal if you cook it on your own.

TRYING AND EXPERIMENTING:

It is always good to have some variety in our life. It takes out the boredom. Always make it a point to pick up a couple of new ingredients at your shopping every month. Experiment with new ways of cooking and taste them. In addition, remember, ‘what grows together goes together. Always, make it a point to pick up seasonal fruits or vegetables. This stuff that is cultivated and harvested simultaneously tastes very good with each other. Apart from that, they are always packed with nutrients that are needed for that particular weather.

For instance, watermelons are abundantly available during summers. This fruit is packed with water content, fibre and a lot more to save us from dehydration during these heavy summer months.

BACK-UP RECIPES AND READING LABELS TO SUSTAIN DIETING:

Back-up recipes are food that you like a lot and can cook within a reasonable amount of time. This food can be taken when you are tired to cook and face a hard time choosing between your diet plan. This way you don’t even give the slightest chance of breaking your healthy eating chain.

As we have already seen in many previous articles, reading labels is important. It is very crucial to know what you are consuming. Always remember, you should be able to read, recognise and pronounce the ingredients properly. Avoid highly processed food and food with a lot of artificial colours, sweeteners etc.

PREPPING AND STOCKING:

Learn how to cook once and distribute it throughout the day. More importantly, have ingredients stocked in your fridge. This saves a lot of time and effort. Have the habit of taking regular meal breaks. Here’s where the concept of healthy snacking comes in. Take very small portions of healthy snacks like once in every 2 hours. This way you don’t feel very hungry and can avoid binging or overeating.

To sum up, as we saw throughout the article, diet is a way of life. From the above pointers, we can conclude, that a healthy lifestyle could be built with a healthy diet. Dieting is good but it should be done in the right way. Never get into a diet if you’re not going to stick with it for your lifetime. Therefore plan and pave your way to healthy living.


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Dr Kavitha M

I am an undergraduate degree holder in dentistry. I have a great interest in music and reading. I am a linguaphile. My areas of interest lie in psychology, medical imaging, diagnostics, and oncology. I am a person who focuses more on the emerging areas of forensics.

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