How to Help Your Diet Become a Way of Life

Many weight-loss attempts start out with grand intentions — “I’m going to lose weight and eat better (this time will be different, I swear!)” — only to revert back to old eating habits within a week or two. So how can you give your desire to eat healthy and lose weight some sticking power? Try these five tips to help turn your weight-loss plan into a strategy for healthy eating for the long haul.
1. Don’t give up your favorite foods.

You shouldn’t have to say goodbye to your favorite foods. In fact, having a small treat may help you stick with your diet. The key to fitting your favorite foods into your eating plan is to find clever ways to incorporate them. One way to do this is to make lower-calorie versions of foods like French fries and brownies. Another trick is to be mindful of your serving sizes when it comes to more indulgent foods. Love pasta? Try adding vegetables to bulk up your serving instead of doubling up on pasta. Of course, your diet should be full of mostly healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains—but make room for some of your favorite, more- indulgent foods too.

2. Eat foods that keep you satisfied.

If you feel hungry all the time, it’s going to be hard to stick with a healthy-eating plan. Research shows that when you’re hungrier, you’re more likely to eat too fast at your next meal. Eating too quickly can lead to consuming extra calories because your body doesn’t have time to register feeling full. While portion control is super-important for losing weight (and keeping it off), you shouldn’t hear your tummy grumbling all day long. Two nutrients that can help keep you full are protein and fiber. Good protein sources include plain Greek yogurt, chicken breast, tuna, tofu and almonds. And to get more fiber, munch on whole fruits and vegetables. Not only is produce high in fiber, but it’s also generally low in calories. That makes it filling and diet-friendly—just what you’re looking for when you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off.

3. Start with small changes.

There’s no need for dramatic shake-ups, like eliminating whole food groups. Instead, start with tiny diet tweaks that over time can become permanent changes. Think of doable things, like packing a wholesome afternoon snack, such as carrots and hummus or an apple, instead of hitting the vending machine. Small changes add up and can help you make healthier eating a way of life, rather than relying on short-term crash dieting.

4. Don’t try to be perfect.

We often have grand ideas about implementing a new diet—like the promises you make about eliminating sugar, never taking from the breadbasket or always having vegetables at dinner. Instead of trying to be perfect, be realistic.  Make your eating plan one that you can actually stick to. You don’t have to eat perfectly to lose weight; you just have to eat well. Set a goal for the week, like adding a serving of vegetables to dinner, or packing a healthy lunch one or two days—and go easy on yourself if you slip up. Eating indulgences are bound to happen. And when they do…

5. Get right back on track.

If you have a diet slip-up and go overboard on chocolate or pizza, don’t beat yourself up! Just get back on track again as quickly as possible. Remember that one meal doesn’t undo all of your healthy efforts—but when you give up your diet entirely because of one slip-up, that’s when the weight can start to creep back on. If you have a minor setback, understand that it’s one small blip on the radar. Get right back to your healthy eating habits and right back on track for long-term success.

Why Weight Watchers isn’t always the best answer

Weight Watchers, is the most popular of commercial diets. We have seen countless women who have said that they have tried Weight Watchers but unlike their friends or family members who were also doing the diet, they weren’t having much success at weight loss despite following the diet as prescribed. Some even admitted to gaining weight on it! Did you?

Here are 5 reasons why most women won’t have much success with the Weight Watchers diet:

Focus is on Points, Not GI

While the Weight Watchers diet does advocate the benefits of whole grains and most recently, sugar, it doesn’t focus on the glycemic index (GI). Just because a food is whole grain and low in sugar doesn’t mean it will have a low GI. Having a point allowance for the day without much structure could result in a diet that is high in carbohydrates and too low in protein and/or fat. When given the choice, some people would rather eat 20 points worth of brownies rather than 20 points worth of apples.

Zero Points

Ever notice how Weight Watchers keeps changing its program? If it worked so well, why the need for change? The new Freestyle Program now includes over 200 foods that are zero points. This includes many protein foods like chicken and carbohydrate containing foods such beans and fruits. If it’s zero points, you don’t have to log it. Less logging = less work and a happier customer.

The problem with Weight Watchers in regards to most women, is that it promotes the message of unlimited “zero points” foods. All foods should be enjoyed in moderation. Doing so will help manage insulin levels.  You still need to be aware of what you are consuming and how many calories you are getting each day.

Fruits are carbohydrates by nature. Just because fruit contains carbs doesn’t make it a “bad” food. Fruits are wonderful as they provide numerous health benefits including lowering insulin, blood pressure, cholesterol, and reducing the risk of cancer. Eating too much fruit in your diet, especially fruit not paired with protein or fat, or too much fruit consumed at one setting will raise insulin levels.

Promotes Overeating

It’s a common saying: You want to gain weight? Go on a diet. Like any diet, Weight Watchers restricts your amount of food and puts rules on what you can or can’t eat. Anyone who works in the field of eating disorders or distorted eating knows that the best way to gain weight is to go on a diet. Feeling deprived often leads to weight gain in the long run and affects your ability to self regulate your intake. Many women with PCOS or Hypothyroid issues struggle with binge eating because of food restriction caused by dieting.

Ignores Internal Regulation

Weight Watchers (and other diet plans) ignores our bodies’ internal regulation for food. The focus on points pulls one away from internal signals of hunger and fullness. If a person is hungrier one day then the points allow, she either has to “starve” or eat beyond her points. Eating beyond points promotes guilt and the intention to make up the points the next day. This creates a vicious cycle of starving and overeating that leads to eating disorders. It teaches women to trust the diet, not their own bodies for how much food to have. In fact, much time is given in nutrition counseling sessions to challenge this negative thinking and create a healthier relationship with food.

Ignores Individualization

One diet does not fit all. PCOS is a syndrome that is associated with many other health conditions including insulin resistance, hypothyroidism (low thyroid) and high cholesterol which require more individualized and involved nutrition changes that a general commercial diet can provide.

Some women with PCOS may have success following the Weight Watchers diet initially, but end up gaining weight back down the road. It’s not because they weren’t compliant enough or didn’t try hard enough. It’s because the diet didn’t work for them.

In our experience, we have found that Weight Watchers overall isn’t the best diet for women with health issues because of the reasons discussed above. Following a low GI diet focusing on whole foods that include whole grains, moderate fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins are the keys for successful and sustainable weight management in women with hormonal imbalances and health issues.

Referenced from
Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN