To Diet or not to Diet? That is the Question – by APD Celia Innerarity

If diets are so great, why is the world a fatter place? Food for thought? As technology increases by leaps and bounds in every aspect of life, everyday there are new apps, new exercises, new weight loss diets, based on the latest science or ancient wisdom. But still millions struggle to lose, and keep off excess weight, and chronic diseases abound.

Let’s talk about weight gain – it doesn’t happen overnight. Really profound statement! However, most people expect to lose it all overnight. Many are preferring to sacrifice health and the joy of food, for restrictive and isolating fad diets, or waiting for that magic pill that will make all the fat go away. That is the great sabotage. The thing about rapid weight loss, it is usually followed by rapid weight gain and then some more. Diets, like fashion, tend to be recycled over the years with an updated name.

As a Dietitian, clients often come in to see me with their guards up high, with or without razor wire on top. They’re expecting to be told “what they can’t eat” by the food Police. Diets tend to be based on what foods you “should never eat…ever!” Then food becomes the enemy. Wonderful things like carbs or fruit or even meat. Shifting the blame from our own lifestyle choices, to the poor food that only sits there until we put it in our mouths. Restricting food – does that sound like a situation that would make anyone happy?

What if there was a better way of approaching things? Instead of stressing over what we can’t do, how about focusing on what we can do for our own health. Author Michael Pollan puts it this way, “Eat real food. Mostly plants and not too much”. Surely it cannot be that simple says the cynic, but it’s a good place to start. We are the sum of the decisions we make most often, as these have the greatest impact. Therefore, we create habits by repeating decisions day after day. And yes, ‘sticking your head in a hole in the ground’ so to speak, is a decision. It stands to reason that if we want a different result, we have to do something different, like creating new, healthier habits.

Overweight, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, they are called lifestyle diseases for a reason. They are most often the result of lifestyle decisions we make day after day. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the luck of the draw or family genes that get us, but mostly its years of unwise decisions. So where can we start?

There is actual proof that weight loss can be achieved and kept off for years. The National Weight Control Registry, real people living in the community, in collaboration with Brown University in the USA, have members achieving successful weight loss and the ability to maintain it for as long as 66 years! Findings from registry participants report:

  1. 98% modify their food intake in some way to lose weight
  2. 94% increased their physical activity, most frequent activity being walking
  3. 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.
  4. 78% eat breakfast every day

Have a think on these ten things:

  1. Eat real food – packaged foods tend come along with more salt, fat and sugar
  2. Keep to as regular a meal routine as you can – life happens, but try. This does good for our metabolism
  3. Plan your meals – carry a snack, pack your lunch, take your coffee. It’s much cheaper and you know what’s in it
  4. Watch the portions – all food has calories, even healthy food. And be mindful about eating, be in the moment and enjoy it
  5. Get in more activity – any exercise is better than nothing; even standing burns more energy
  6. Eat your veggies – this is not cliché; add a little colour to your plate, as each one represents a different nutrient
  7. Treat foods should be just that – and make your own if you really want to have them
  8. Alcohol – those moments on the lips are multiplied exponentially, less is more
  9. Shop wisely – focus on the periphery where there are fresh and whole foods
  10. Understand the food labels – this helps you shop like a boss; know what’s in your food


Why not give it a go? Try one suggestion per week and see how you go. Build up your confidence on just one thing and then try another. What do you have to lose other than a bad habit?

Some useful websites for you: