By now, we all know how important it is to maintain a healthy weight. And, not just for our looks, but also for our mental and physical health, too. But, losing weight is often easier said than done. And, if you approach it the wrong way, starting a diet can be just as bad for you as carrying around a few extra pounds.
It seems like everyone’s talking about some new miracle diet every week, but it only takes a moment of research to see that most of them are terribly unhealthy. Even worse, the long-term success rate with most fad diets is extremely low, mostly because they focus on the short term, extreme changes rather than healthy lifestyle choices.
If you’re thinking about losing a few pounds, here are some health considerations to keep in mind before starting a diet. Following these strategies will ensure that you have more energy and improved mental focus during your weight loss journey. Even better, these strategies can mean the difference between losing weight and gaining it back once you go back to your old habits or keeping it off for the long haul.
1. Take a Multivitamin Every Day
By design, the typical diet requires you to eat less food and restrict lower caloric intake. Many times, you’re supposed to eliminate certain food groups, as well. This makes the potential for nutrient deficiencies a real concern. And, even a slight deficiency can take a toll on your physical and mental health, especially your energy level and focus.
For example, if you’re cutting back on dairy, you might not be getting much vitamin D through your diet. Or, when you cut out carbs, you are missing out on a multitude of vitamins and minerals found in veggies, fruits, and whole grains. And if you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet, your risk of B12 and iron deficiency is much higher.
The easiest way to minimize the potential for nutrient deficiencies without sacrificing your weight loss efforts is to take a high-quality multivitamin each day. Organic gummy vitamins from a reputable brand are a good choice because they’re easier for the body to absorb than tablets or capsules made with synthetic nutrients.
Be sure to choose a formula that B-complex for metabolism and mental focus plus probiotics for digestion and gut health.
2. Avoid Restrictive Dieting
Did you know that restrictive dieting can be harmful to your long term-mental health? We all start out with the positive goals of losing weight to improve our self-esteem and overall health. But for many, going on a restrictive diet can lead to obsessive and unhealthy eating habits, and even eating disorders that can be difficult to overcome.
In fact, restrictive dieting is thought to be a leading cause of eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, those who practice restrictive dieting are as much as 18% more likely to develop unhealthy eating habits than those who stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet.
So, how do you avoid this impact on your mental health and still lose weight? Follow a healthy eating plan that includes all food groups. If you focus on eating a clean diet, you will still lose weight. The main portion of a well-balanced, healthy diet is made up of vegetables, fruit, and lean protein.
Don’t eliminate carbs completely. Instead, get your carbs from whole grains that are loaded with vitamins and minerals. And, stop thinking of fat as an enemy. Healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, fish, avocados, and olive oil, are vital to overall health and reducing inflammation, which can lead to chronic illness.
When it comes to those inevitable cravings, look for healthier ways to satisfy them, but don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods. For example, if you’re craving ice cream, try some frozen yogurt or have a small portion. Many times, cravings are more about hunger than specific foods, so try eating something healthy first to see if the craving goes away.
3. Extreme Dieting Can Be Damaging to Your Hair and Skin
If you care about the health of your hair and skin, you may want to rethink going on a diet. When you go on a restrictive diet, you’re depriving your body of many nutrients that are essential for healthy skin and hair.
Lack of proper nutrition can lead to thinning, dull hair and dry skin, or even acne breakouts. Focusing on a well-balanced, clean diet and taking a multivitamin each day is crucial for keeping you looking and feeling good, inside and out.
4. Avoid Bowel and Digestive Issues
Crash diets can lead to all sorts of tummy troubles, including irregular and inconsistent bowel movements. A poor diet can also take a toll on your gut health, leading to poor digestion, a weakened immune system, and a variety of other health issues.
In addition to eating a well-balanced diet that’s rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, try to include some probiotic-rich foods in your diet each day. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha are all good choices for keeping your gut and bowels functioning optimally after starting a diet.
5. Focus on Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Fad diets simply aren’t the answer to long-term weight loss. Sure, you may lose a few pounds while you’re on the diet, but as soon as you go back to your normal lifestyle and eating habits, you will probably gain it back.
If you want your weight loss to last, you need to focus on making healthy lifestyle changes that you can stick to. They will be much more sustainable than simply restricting what you eat and cutting calories. So, instead of going on a diet, let’s call it a journey to better overall health!
Invest your energy and time into learning new things like planning healthy meals, shopping for healthy foods, and stocking a fridge and pantry full of healthy foods. Instead of getting takeout at the office, learn about meal prepping and bring your lunch and snacks to work with you. Instead of letting food control your decisions, take control of what you’re eating.
Baby steps, like walking after dinner, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or eating an extra serving of veggies at each meal, can have a significant impact on your weight loss efforts and how you feel overall. These are the types of healthy lifestyle changes you can stick to for life, and they’re a much better strategy for improving your health than any fad diet.
6. Get Moving Every Day
Many people approach to exercise for weight loss the same way they do dieting. They try to do too much, too fast and wind up giving up without seeing any long-term results. But we’re here to tell you that torturing yourself for hours at the gym each week isn’t necessary. And, it’s not sustainable… unless hitting the gym is something you truly enjoy.
Instead, find a way to get moving every day that you truly enjoy. Whether it’s swimming, yoga, cycling, walking in nature, or dancing in the privacy of your living room, you’re much more likely to stick to an exercise plan if it’s fun.
As long as it gets your body moving and your heart rate up, you will still lose weight.
7. Don’t Try to Lose Weight Too Quickly
Crash dieting to lose weight quickly is extremely harmful to your body. Most experts recommend slow, steady weight loss of about one or two pounds each week. Losing weight at this pace can have a positive impact on your health in many ways, including lowering your cholesterol levels, reducing your blood pressure, and regulating your blood sugar.
And, you will be more likely to keep the weight off if you set a realistic goal of steady, slow weight loss. That’s because the cycle of rapid weight loss and then gaining it back only to start all over again can harm your metabolism, making it harder for you to achieve your ultimate goal of reaching a healthy weight.
That’s because rapidly lost weight is usually muscle and water, not fat. Muscle breakdown is very common with extreme dieting. Less muscle means a slower metabolic rate, which means you’ll burn fewer calories at rest, and may even be more likely to gain weight later on.
Crash diets can also lead to a host of health issues like muscle cramps, dehydration, chronic fatigue, and poor immune function. They take a toll on your emotional wellbeing, too, leading to anxiety, irritability, and even depression. While it may seem appealing at first, in the end, the negative impacts of losing weight too quickly just aren’t worth it. Healthy lifestyle changes that lead to gradual weight loss are the way to go.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re thinking about starting a diet, remember that slow and steady weight loss is much better than trying to follow a restrictive diet or an extreme exercise routine. Diets that deprive you of certain food groups can also deprive your body of vital nutrition. So, instead of cutting calories to lose a few pounds quickly, commit to healthy lifestyle changes that support steady weight loss with your improved health being the long-term goal.