The definition of the word “diet”, as we know it, has evolved over time. It originates from the Greek word ‘diaita’, meaning ‘way of life’ or ‘daily habits’. Over the last century, this word “diet” has also come to represent something very different; it has morphed into a word that denotes restriction and deprivation. In fact, ‘diet’ is now listed in the Cambridge Dictionary as an adjective, used to describe food that has been modified from its original form so that it is reduced in sugar or fat, and often injected with artificial sweetener, like diet soft drink. Somehow, a word that was originally used to represent a lifestyle is now a word used to describe food that is no longer even real food.
So how can we take a step back in time and return to that place where the word “diet” had a positive connotation and didn’t represent the act of limiting food or caloric intake? Here are 5 ways to turn your diet back into a way of life…
Don’t Make it Just About Food; Incorporate Exercise Into it too
I am sure you have seen a number of quotes floating around your Instagram feed telling you that ‘diet is 80% nutrition and only 20% exercise’ or that ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. While there is no doubt that what we eat has an enormous impact on our health, I have noticed that a lot of my clients are using these sayings as an excuse to focus only on what they eat and ignore the need for physical activity. This is often where the ‘diet’ mentality creeps in; they believe that as long as they can control exactly what they are eating, right down to the gram, then it doesn’t matter how little exercise they do. Incorporating lifestyle back into the equation shifts the focus of being healthy away from restrictive eating and calorie control and more towards creating a lifestyle that promotes health through wholefoods, exercise, stress management, mood support and more – factors that have a far greater impact on health than just calories!
Don’t Be Defined or Limited by Your ‘Diet’
Let’s revisit the definition of diet as being a ‘way of life’. Life is always changing and our needs as humans are constantly evolving. While one particular diet may suit your lifestyle at one point, it may not suit your lifestyle later down the track. Don’t let a particular diet define you, and certainly don’t limit yourself in order to stick to it. For example, while a low-carbohydrate diet may really suit your lifestyle as a sedentary office worker, you may find that when chasing your kids around the park, you actually require a lot more energy. Similarly, you may have noticed that eating ‘paleo’ has really improved your health, but you find it difficult to stick to during social events. Listen to your body and by all means, find an eating pattern that suits you best, but don’t be scared to readjust those guidelines every so often as circumstances change. Always ensure you are fuelling your body with the energy it requires and allow yourself some leeway at the occasional dinner party, especially when you find yourself being offered a delicious piece of chocolate cake that you simply can’t refuse
Focus on What you Should be Eating
I wish I could convince all of my clients that there is no need for ‘diets’ and to just eat everything in moderation. However, I know that this mindset doesn’t work for everyone. Some people thrive on a strict regime, guiding them on what to eat. And this is why diets seem to be so popular. So, my advice to people who do decide to undertake a new diet is to focus on what they can eat, not what they can’t. It is important to remember that restricting the types of food that you eat also limits the variety of nutrients you are obtaining from your food on a daily basis. So, it is vital to ensure you are getting a wide variety of nutrients from as many different food sources as possible. Not only will this ensure that you remain sufficiently nourished at all times, but it also encourages creative eating and helps you to forget about all of the food that you aren’t eating – making it a far more sustainable exercise
Understand the Rationale Behind What you are Eating
If you do decide to follow a particular diet that involves restricting certain food groups, try your best to understand why. Sometimes following particular diets are necessary due to personal or religious values or particular health reasons. Unfortunately, these days, there are too many people following random diets without fully understanding why they would actually be beneficial. Before drastically changing the way that you eat, try and understand why you want to follow those eating guidelines in the first place; what it is about this particular diet that appeals to you, how this diet will impact your body, how you might have to alter your lifestyle in order adapt to those changes etc. This will help to shift the focus from being on a ‘restrictive diet’ to being on a lifestyle change that will benefit your overall health
Changing the way that you eat based on particular dietary guidelines can be a big commitment. Sometimes we can go for months following a certain diet before realising the effects it is having on our health. Rather than simply selecting a diet and following it dogmatically, remember that diets are created based on a general population – not on you! Be open to the fact that the diet that helped your next door neighbour lose 20kg may actually have a negative effect on your energy levels or cause you to experience severe mood swings. Take small steps to embarking on dietary changes so that you can properly identify which aspects of the diet are working for you and which ones aren’t. This way, you will be able to incorporate the positive aspects of that diet into your lifestyle, taking your eating and overall health into equal consideration
If you’re looking to take on a new dietary regime but are concerned it may lead to a restrictive mindset or just become another fad, contact Healthspace Clinics today to book an appointment with Amanda! It’s never too late to adjust your lifestyle to ensure sustainable wellbeing.
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