While there is so much information out there regarding healthy eating habits and nutrition, it’s still very common to see people hurting their bodies physically and psychologically all for the sake of a few pounds. In fact, following a strict diet, even if you are very committed and proactive in sticking to it, is often nowhere near as effective or as sustainable as following more flexible, healthy eating habits. Not convinced? Well, check out some of the following great reasons.
Dieting is restricting, healthy eating is freeing
This statement sums up the debate as succinctly as possible. While following a diet is ultimately very restrictive and outcome-based, following a more relaxed, balanced eating lifestyle is incredibly freeing and fulfilling. It encourages you to try a larger range of foods, cuisines and recipes. Instead of having the same meals on a weekly basis, like a Thai green curry or a chicken Caesar salad, consider switching to something a little different. You can have a go of making harissa cauliflower steaks with chickpeas – wholesome and delicious! This meal takes only 30 minutes of preparation and is egg-free, gluten-free and high in fibre.
It doesn’t have to be something radically different, but it could be something that blends certain flavours you have never tried before. With a healthy eating lifestyle, you’re free to explore new options and consume less healthy foods in moderation. With a diet, you’re completely trapped.
A strict mentality can be damaging
Furthermore, a diet mentality can be quite damaging, especially if you don’t allow yourself to have any freedom from the diet. With a diet, there is no grey area – you can either eat something or you can’t. It’s as simple as that. On the other hand, mindful eating habits allow you to have that flexibility regarding your eating choices, meaning you can indulge once in a while and still feel good about your progress.
Dieting can also foster obsessive behaviour and even precipitate more serious eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia. While there are often other factors involved in the development of these conditions, a strict, unforgiving diet certainly won’t help. Your eating habits should allow you to indulge every now and then, whether it be something sweet or something savoury.
Not all diets work
Another great reason why a sustainable healthy lifestyle works better than a diet-only focus is that not all of them are effective. Everyone’s body is different and just because a specific regime worked with one of your friends doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. For some people, a low carb diet just isn’t sustainable. For others, simply cutting out one type of food group can make all the difference (whether it be bread, meat or alcohol).
The main thing is for you to listen to your body. A vegan lifestyle will work for some people, but it won’t work for others. There are even people with medical conditions that prevent them from eating anything except red meat and it works for them. If you have no dietary restrictions, your focus should be about maintaining a balance between key food groups, along with avoiding the things that don’t react well with your system.
A balanced lifestyle includes exercise
So many people fall into the trap of following a strict diet without incorporating any form of exercise or physical activity into their routine. Whilst eating well and mindfully is very important, ensuring that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is equally important. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that incorporates exercise is a far more sustainable option compared to starving yourself on low calorie meals all in the hope of “leaning down.” Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore or a nuisance either, in fact, it can and should be very enjoyable. Consider signing up for a local sports team, joining a yoga class, going to the beach for a swim or hiring out a tennis/squash court with a couple of mates. Whatever your outlet might be, it should be something you look forward to, unlike your dinner meals when you’re on a diet.
You can still eat the foods you love
As outlined earlier, healthy eating habits allow you to continue to eat the foods you know and love, even if they aren’t always the best for you. A diet won’t afford you this freedom. When it comes to adopting a balanced lifestyle, the primary focus is eating better quality food (not more food), all the while incorporating those little treats in moderation. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice those goodies and you can still achieve your weight and body goals with them in your eating plans.