We all have a diet because we all eat. For better or worse, we all have one. Almost all of us go on a diet, from time to time, too. The problem when we go on one is that we often go off it as well. That is the first thing people get wrong about the big D-word, but that's not all. Diet doesn't have to be a dirty word. Here are a few misconceptions I'd like to clear up:
1. Diets are short term.
Let’s get straight to the point here. The term "diet" should refer to your overall eating habits rather than "dieting," something you do and try and stick to for a week, a month or until you lose that weight. We all have a diet, but you don’t have to diet. It is better to improve your actual diet. Got it? Incorporate healthy changes into your existing lifestyle until they eventually become part of your normal life.
The dieting mentality will often lead to yo-yo dieting, which won’t help with lasting weight loss and improvements to your health.
2. Starving yourself is a sure fire way to lose weight.
When you restrict your eating too drastically, you will slow your metabolism and probably end up on a donut or burger binge. Instead, learn to listen to your hunger quotient and eat foods with fat and protein that help satisfy you. Learning how to listen to your body is an invaluable tool that can make all the difference with your weight and health.
3. You can eat as much fruit as you want.
Our diets should be jam packed with whole, real foods, including fruit. But when you’re looking to lose weight, you do have to consider your fruit intake. Fruit contains fructose, sugar that is quickly digested by the body. Yes, it is also packed with fiber and nutrients making it a much better choice (of course) than sweets, but it doesn’t mean you should think of it as a “free” food. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick to one or two servings of fruit and focus more on veggies as your afternoon snack before snagging another apple.
4. Calories are all the same.
No, a calorie is not a calorie. Yes, you don’t want to over-consume calories, but you don't have to count them and they are certainly not all equal. Hormones, emotions, cravings and even our social schedule influence the amount of calories we consume and how our body processes them. A hundred calories of jelly beans is not the same as 100 calories of fresh turkey and a slice of avocado. Did you eat three cookies, but stay under your calorie goal for the day? This may work against your weight-loss goal and it is definitely keeping you away from meeting your nutrient needs.
5. Low-fat foods are always the better option.
Labels that promise "reduced fat" should also say, “added sugar!” Take out the fat, and you’re left with something that lacks flavor. To make up for this, manufacturers add in additives and sugars. If a tablespoon of peanut butter on your oatmeal is what you’re craving, go for the real thing. A peanut butter that lists "peanuts" is much better than a peanut butter that says “low-fat.” Also, don’t forget, a little fat goes a long way and helps you burn fat.
6. A gluten-free diet is key to dropping weight.
It’s been a long time now that celebs (and your friends) have been thanking their gluten-free lifestyle for weight loss. When you cut out gluten, you cut out traditional cakes, cookies, refined pastas and breads — and that is the biggest reason people lose weight eating this way.
In reality, you don’t need to be 100 percent gluten-free (unless you have a medical reason to do so) to reap these benefits. Remember, a healthy diet is comprised of veggies, fruit, lean protein, healthy fats and even some grains that are naturally low in gluten. Also, if you do replace foods like pasta with gluten-free versions, you are often packing your diet with processed foods that contain even more unhealthy additives. Stick to naturally gluten-free foods.
7. The number on the scale is all that matters.
Many people still get caught up with the number they see appear between their toes on the scale every morning. If you’re working out more and focusing on healthy eating, you may be gaining muscle, which could lead to weight gain, but a healthier bod.
Focus on eating healthy, consistently, not for a set period of time. Instead of a scale, use a pair of jeans or a little black dress as a measure of how you're doing.
For more diet advice from Keri Glassman, follow her on Instagram.