How Long Should You Stay with a Diet?

by Catherine Rein
(last updated April 22, 2009)

I tried several fad diets when I was younger and watched many of my high school and college friends struggle with their weight. Diets don't work in the long-term and if you try to cut calories or food groups for a short time, the weight will quickly reappear once you return to regular eating habits. The only way to achieve a healthy weight is to maintain a healthy diet for life.

  • Avoid Fad Diets. Diets that exclude certain food groups, like carb-free diets aren't diets you can stay on the rest of your life. You should look for diets that provide balance and flexibility and enable you to achieve long-term weight loss goals.
  • Meal Planning. The best way to stick with a healthy diet is through preparation. Plan your weekly meals, including snacks, so that the house is full of healthy meal options. You should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk for snacks and meals.
  • Healthy Changes for a Lifetime. Maintaining a healthy weight will only be possible if eating healthy becomes a lifetime habit. Diets that can't be sustained, like starvation diets, or carb-free diets are recipes for failure. You should also aim for at least 30 minutes every day of brisk physical activity, including walking, riding a bike or playing with the kids. Physical activity combined with a healthy diet will result in a lifetime of health and vitality.

With the images of thin men and women popularized on media throughout U.S. culture, the stress to attain a "perfect" body can be extreme. This pressure often extends through families, who push their young people to be thin. Our cultural exposure, especially in the U.S., has increasingly been overwhelmed with food. Whether through advertisements for fast food or diet treatments, we are constantly bombarded with images of food. This unnatural obsession with food is linked with higher levels of eating disorders in our population.

You should remember that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Building a healthy body image is about being comfortable in your own body and using your body in all the glorious ways that nature intended. By staying away from the scale and enjoying food because of its healthy taste and the way it strengthens your body you can begin to view your body in a different and healthy way.

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