How not to diet

Do you remember all that you learnt about dieting? Good. Now forget it. And read on to learn the right way to change your food habits to actually start losing some weight

Man relaxed and happyIf you are constantly on and off diets and still don't seem to fathom why you never achieve your weight loss goals, you might be following diets that are just not for you. In fact, following blanket diets that encourage cutting off major food groups can completely cause more harm than good. You need to learn to stay away from such diets and understand where you may be going wrong. Here's some advice in that direction.

Target setting: Understand that your current weight is an end result of your eating habits over a period of several years. Your age, hormone imbalances if any, health problems, activity levels, social life, preferences for certain foods and the number of times you have gained and lost weight all affect the weight loss process. When setting a weight loss goal, you need to take all these factors into consideration, which often doesn't happen. People start off setting an unrealistic target.

Starting off with the wrong target in mind is like following the wrong directions to your destination—you are obviously going to get lost! So, be realistic about the weight you actually can lose over a period of time. Ideally, you can target ? – 1kg of weight loss per week if you are dieting and 1 – 1.5kg a week [depending on how overweight you are] if you are dieting and exercising. If you attempt to lose more than this, not only will you be disappointed, but also end up harming your health.

Dieting v/s starving: Diets that recommend eating as little as possible may show you success on the scale, but may leave you feeling weak and perennially tired or irritable and low on energy. If that's the case, re-evaluate.

Dieting is supposed to teach you to understand your food and make healthier choices so that you can make permanent changes in your eating habits. If the changes you make are going to be only temporary, then your weight loss will be temporary too. And I'm sure you do not want to be a candidate for weight loss all your life! Choose healthier food options that are not only slimming, but that also help you get fit.

Magic diets: If your diet or the result you might get from it seems too good to be true, it probably is! If losing weight was a simple matter of downing a shake or just cutting down most of your food, we would not need expert guidance for it. Dieting involves a complex balance of calories and nutrients from the food you eat. So instead of following something you read somewhere or what a friend tells you, seek advice from a trained professional and follow what is best for your health in the long run.

Mono diets: Certain diets follow the premise that for some time, you should drop all but one particular food group and eat foods only from that particular group. While this may help you drop the kilos, what you are really losing is probably your muscle mass and consequently, your health and strength. Over a period of time, this will also cause your metabolic rate to be lowered, which will actually make your body more efficient in storing fat!

Pill-popping: If simply popping a pill could give you the body of your dreams, then I doubt there would be a single fat person on this planet! Pills that promise you weight loss give no explanation as to how they really work and if they do, there is no research to support their claims or theories. So if you want to shape up, and boost your metabolism why not choose the safer and surer alternative—exercise?

So the next time you plan to go on a diet, just keep these points in mind.

The food-mood connection

According to a new research, a 6-month behavioural weight loss programme in depressed patients, not only helped them lose eight per cent of their initial weight, but also reported significant improvements in their symptoms of depression, as well as reductions in triglycerides, which are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The results of this study highlight the need for further research into the effects of weight loss in individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders.

"This research is novel because clinically depressed individuals are not usually included in weight loss trials due to concerns that weight loss could worsen their depression," said Dr Lucy Faulconbridge, lead author of the study. The latest findings suggest that depressed, obese individuals can lose clinically significant amounts of weight, and that weight loss can actually reduce symptoms of depression.

"Depression and obesity are independently associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and so reductions in both body weight and symptoms of depression are likely to improve long-term health outcomes," said Dr Faulconbridge.

Fifty-one depressed and non-depressed subjects were recruited into the study to follow a supervised weight loss programme that included lifestyle modification and meal replacements.

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Samreedhi Goel
Samreedhi Goel is a Nutritionist and Personal trainer & fitness columnist who has been a part of the fitness industry since 1999. She has helped hundreds of people shape up, lose weight, achieve the body of their dreams, become fitter and healthier individuals and overcome chronic health problems through her fitness studio Size Wise.Her fitness columns and interviews appear on a regular basis in prestigious publications like Complete Wellbeing, Sunday Midday, Rediff.com, Seventeen India, Mumbai.

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