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Why Diets Don’t Work

They're only temporary -- a band-aid at best

Here’s a typical scenario: You’re overweight and want to lose twenty pounds so you choose a diet recommended by a friend, a book or a huckster on television. The diet is very restrictive, and you hate everything about it, but you lose the twenty pounds nonetheless.

Diets are temporary

Then, you immediately return to your regular lifestyle and eating habits and not only gain back the twenty pounds, you add on some additional weight as well.

It’s not your fault. Diets don’t work because they’re not sustainable. Diets are temporary. They’re abstractions created for large groups of people rather than specific individuals and demand that we alter our lifestyles dramatically and shock our bodies with an extreme lifestyle change that’s simply not realistic, and sometimes downright unhealthy. All of these plans, programs and methods eventually end, and when they do, the weight comes back.

When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes ten years ago, I didn’t go on a diet, I changed my lifestyle instead.

When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes ten years ago, I didn’t go on a diet, I changed my lifestyle instead. I lost more than 40 pounds, and I’ve maintained my optimum weight ever since. It didn’t happen overnight, or even in 30 days, because unlike a diet, changing your lifestyle is a process.

I had been eating too many carbohydrates, especially in the morning, and once I found a healthy breakfast I could eat for the rest of my life (see below), my weight and health improved dramatically. I found that a carb heavy diet affected me adversely, and another major lifestyle change was to stop eating pasta, which was perhaps my favorite food. I also love scotch and ice cream and I wasn’t going to give those up completely, so something had to go. I experimented with healthier snacks (apples, avocados, broccoli, yellow peppers) and limited myself to complex carbohydrates like multigrain breads and brown rice. On the rare occasion I eat pasta (maybe four times a year) I make sure it’s whole wheat.

Today, our smartphones can give us information instantaneously and we’ve come to expect the same results with health and weight loss. It’s doesn’t have to be a tedious process. Learning about our bodies and long-term health and well-being is interesting and ultimately extremely beneficial. Finding healthy alternatives to what we currently eat is not difficult and merely requires some thought and effort.

What you eat must work for you. Don’t blindly follow a diet dictated by someone you’ve never met because they have written a book or appear on television. My daily meals are simple. I tried many other foods than those listed below and discarded some — yogurt, for example — because they didn’t work for me. I rotate different foods and occasionally add snacks like nuts or pumpkin seeds, but they otherwise remain very consistent with what I eat.

Start simply and experiment until you find something that work for you.

My daily meal options:

Breakfast

Cereal: Uncle Sam’s, Ezekiel or Oatmeal with blueberries

Hard-boiled egg

Coffee

Snack(s)

Banana

Avocado

Fruit

Whole wheat bagel with butter (after rigorous exercise)

Lunch

Chicken salad with vegetables

Hamburger on multi-grain bread

Turkey meat loaf

Turkey chili

Turkey sandwich

Snack(s): 

Avocado, Coffee, Fruit

Dinner

Chicken, fish, beef, pork

Salad

Vegetables

Brown rice

Red wine

Dessert a few times a week

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