Life today is rife with diet culture. So many people seem to be at war or have an unhealthy relationship with food. The rules are continually changing, and foods that were good a couple of years ago are now on the bad list.

This obsession with diet is exhausting, and it doesn’t seem to be working. One in three Americans go on a diet every year, but two in three women and three in four men are overweight. Moreover, dieting and clean eating are the most important predictors of eating disorders in teens.

Even so, this doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel and
stop trying to eat healthier. We do, however, need to rethink our strategy.

Break the Cycle of Dieting

Make small,
sustainable improvements

Many people believe they need to make drastic changes to their way of eating to be healthier, but this isn’t true. Even minor improvements like adding an extra serving of vegetables to your meals or going meat-free one day a week can have long-term health benefits. Small, sustainable improvements produce better results in the long-term rather than drastic, temporary changes.

Separate nutritional
facts from fiction

Nutrition facts are an essential part of a healthy diet and shouldn’t be ignored. However, you don’t need to react to every new “discovery’” on nutrition.

Many times, the people purporting to have discovered nutritional breakthroughs have no credible qualifications. These claims should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if they promise a quick fix.

If you’re having trouble separating nutritional facts from
fiction, speak to a registered dietitian. They are trained to critically
analyze conflicting claims and point you in the right direction.

Make healthier food
choices without depriving yourself

The reason so many people are stuck in a diet-eat-repent-repeat cycle is that they believe they need to deny themselves to be healthy. However, a much better way to look at healthy eating is to make the healthiest choice that won’t leave you feeling deprived. 

Maybe you should reconsider having that salad if you know it’s going to leave you feeling hungry and zap your energy. You’re better off substituting a serving of meat for a plant-based protein source and keeping everything else the same.

Don’t expect

It’s not possible or necessary to make healthy food choices all the time. Getting rid of the need for perfection goes a long way in eliminating the guilt you feel after making unhealthy choices. And if you don’t feel guilty, you won’t feel a need to pay penance by going on a harmful diet, an effective approach to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting.

Constantly being bombarded with conflicting studies on nutrition and new fad diets can make food choices a lot more complicated than they need to be. By focusing on making small improvements that don’t leave you feeling deprived and eliminating the need for perfection, you can avoid most of the pitfalls of our crazy diet culture.

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