Ditch the Diet! No. More. Diets.

Yeah, that’s right—we said it. And we mean it!

This month we’re ditching the diet in favor of healthy nutritional lifestyle changes. No more generic one-size-fits-all fad programs. Let’s talk out why these “diets” can be harmful, and how you can go about starting good, healthy habits you need to thrive.

The Diet Downfall

Now, when we say “diet” we mean what would be considered, traditionally, as a way to lose weight over a period of time—like trendy programs and random dietary restrictions. Many of these methods, especially without guidance from a medical or dietary professional, can actually be more harmful to the body and can instill very dangerous, misinformed habits. The low-fat diet taught us that all fats were bad (eek!); the calorie-counting method taught us quantity vs. nutritional quality; the military diet taught us structured starvation. And while some may have achieved certain results using these methods, risky diets can also do irreparable damage to your metabolism, musculoskeletal system and even brain or heart function.

The Power of a Lifestyle Change

The weight-loss and diet industry has taught far too many that the road to health is more about what you’re not putting in your body, but in reality that’s only a small portion. Good health and nutrition is about what you put in your body—making sure you get the right nutrients. If you’re thinking about starting a new journey into cleaner, healthier eating, here are a few things that may help you when getting started:

Keep a Food Journal—this is a great way to get a look at your daily food intake and will give you a good idea of where to start making changes; make sure to write down not only what you eat but how you feel later. This will make it easier to start identifying whether or not certain foods help or hurt you.

Consult a Nutritionist—quite possibly one of the most important things you can do. Before getting started, you need good information and direction; it can be hard to navigate the food industry alone, especially with so much misinformation out there. Plus, a nutritionist will consider any goals you’re trying to achieve while helping you devise a plan. Bonus: In our age of technology, there are a lot of online resources for nutritionists where you can meet with them via video conference or even online messaging!

Begin Eliminating Processed Foods—if you’d like to get started right away but you’re not sure how, begin by eliminating processed foods like sweets, fried foods and refined grain or sugar products. But remember, eliminating can never be the whole battle. Sub in whole, green leafy vegetables and fruits in their place.

Try Conscious Eating—a lot of us eat during periods of intense distractedness, like in front of our computer at work or watching a movie in the living room. This causes us to eat faster, paying less attention to what we’re eating. Slow down, eliminate distractions, and focus on what you’re eating, how quickly you eat it and how you feel after.

Ditch the Diet!