Obesity prevalence in the United States continues to rise steadily year after year. Many people are looking for strategies to help them stick to their diets and finally achieve a healthy weight for life. The problem is that there is no simple solution to weight-related issues. There are numerous reasons why people have difficulty losing weight, as well as numerous reasons why people have difficulty maintaining their diets. Here’s why:
Why Is It So Difficult to Stick to a Diet?
People tend to themselves, especially women who are overweight and unable to stick to a diet due to their inability to control their eating. Many people believe that excess weight is the result of a lack of self-control when it comes to food consumption. You can probably imagine how this belief can affect a person’s self-esteem when they are unable to lose weight or adhere to a diet.
People who follow traditional diet plans, which also rely on calorie restriction, are forced to choose between being overweight or going hungry. However, being unable to exercise self-control when eating and overeating are not the only (or even the primary) factors that contribute to weight problems.
Overeating makes no biological sense. When the body requires fuel, it experiences hunger; when it no longer requires fuel, it experiences satiety. This is the state in which everything is working properly. However, this cycle does not always function properly.
What exactly is the problem?
The disruption in this cycle of hunger and satiation is usually caused by leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that regulates the amount of energy consumed and expended by the body and causes feelings of hunger when the body runs out of fuel.
However, leptin resistance in the body can prevent this function from working properly and prevent it from working at all. Because the body is unable to recognize the leptin that is released, it does not receive the signal that we have eaten enough. If you’re having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, you most likely have leptin resistance.
One factor that may contribute to the development of leptin resistance is the Standard American Diet (SAD). The majority of food consumed in the United States is high in calories but low in nutrients.
This diet consumes a lot of energy (in the form of sugar) but has a very low intake of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and so on. To put it another way, even though your body is getting enough calories (or even an excess of them), it is going hungry for the nutrients it requires. This causes the body to store fat rather than burn it, as well as activating other mechanisms that result in increased body fat and weight gain.
Obesity is a problem of starvation in the cells of the body, not excess, as Dr. David Ludwig, author of Always Hungry, explains. Obesity affects a large number of people. As a result, restricting calories, which is the foundation of the vast majority of conventional diets, will exacerbate the problem.
The truth is that it is not your fault if you have difficulty sticking to a diet. The majority of diets and weight loss programs fail to address the aforementioned issues.
Diet Maintenance Techniques (For Good)
However, there are simple steps that can be taken to stick to a diet and, in the end, achieve the desired result of a lower body fat percentage. Some strategies that can finally help you achieve a healthy weight are as follows:
Consider whether your weight is merely a symptom of a more serious problem
As previously stated, a person’s weight is frequently a manifestation of underlying health issues. This indicates that, in most cases, addressing the underlying problem will also address the weight issue. Weight gain or loss can be caused by a variety of factors, including insulin resistance, leptin resistance, thyroid disease, and so on.
It is pointless to try to lose weight unless one of these underlying causes is addressed first. My best advice is to see a physician who specializes in functional medicine. This doctor will be able to tell you whether an underlying condition is causing your weight problems and will also give you advice on how to deal with it.
To your relief, a diagnosis of leptin resistance is not required before you can begin working toward a solution. Anything you can do to keep leptin levels in check will benefit your body. Among these are the following:
- consuming an adequate amount of nutrient-dense foods (instead of restricting calories)
- avoiding simple sugars and instead relying on starchy vegetables for carbohydrates
- obtaining a good night’s sleep
- reducing stress through anaerobic activity and spending time in natural settings
- Some of these things, which can help reset the body and make it more efficient, may make it easier to lose weight.
Incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your daily routine
Consider your new, healthier eating habits as an adjustment to your overall lifestyle. Diets that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s will no longer suffice. You “go on” one of these traditional diets to lose weight, and then “come off” when you’ve had enough of being restricted in your food intake.
When nutrient deficiencies are frequently at the root of weight problems, it is clear that these diets cause more harm than good. Instead, we should eat in ways that are both sustainable and healthy. Eating nutritious food should never leave you hungry. Some approaches to consider are as follows:
- Find some new recipes that you enjoy that use only healthy ingredients, and remember that healthy fats are important and should not be avoided!
- Sweets made with nutritious ingredients can be made at home (think ice cream, cheesecake, and cookies). Meals made from fresh, whole ingredients are far superior to those made from processed or even restaurant food.
Make spending time outside, getting some exercise, and finding ways to relieve stress a part of your daily routine. Include time in your schedule for preparing and eating nutritious meals.
If you incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine, you can improve both your health and your ability to enjoy life (without limiting yourself!). I’d say that 95% of my diet consists of healthy foods, and yet I never feel deprived of anything.
Consume the Real Thing
One method for incorporating health into your way of life is to make eating healthy food a top priority. When it comes to diet maintenance, one of the most important aspects to consider is the types of foods you consume. Low-nutrient foods, such as packaged convenience foods, will contribute to leptin resistance and insulin resistance, and will not help you lose weight.
Eating real food, on the other hand, can help the body in a variety of ways, including providing support and correcting any imbalances that may be contributing to weight problems. It is critical to focus your attention on:
- We are looking for healthy protein sources such as pastured chicken, grass-fed beef and lamb, and wild-caught fish.
- Healthy fats include avocado, real olive oil, coconut oil, pastured butter, and other fats derived from healthy animals, as well as fatty fish.
Consume a lot of vegetables
While it is preferable to consume only organic vegetables grown without the use of pesticides, the most important thing is to consume a lot of vegetables.
Sweeten foods with fruit, maple syrup, raw honey, or one of the many other naturally occurring sweeteners rather than sugar. It is also critical to avoid relying too heavily on high-sugar foods. Fruit is our go-to snack most of the time, and we save sweeteners for special occasions.
Carbohydrates that are beneficial to your health
Carbohydrates can be found in fruit and other sweeteners, but it’s important to get plenty of other types of carbohydrates as well. My favorite vegetables are winter squash and sweet potatoes. Maintaining a healthy weight, on the other hand, is a higher-level goal that should be prioritized after making the switch to real food. Lowering carbohydrate intake may aid in weight loss for some people.
It’s possible that switching to eating real food is all your body needs to get back on track. In any case, it is a great place to start and may have a significant positive effect on the body.
Instead of focusing on negative goals, strive for positive ones
One common approach to maintaining a healthy diet is to simply refrain from engaging in unhealthy behaviors. However, if it were that simple, no one would ever have a weight problem. The difficulty is that giving up something requires a lot of willpower.
When conditions are ideal, willpower is abundant and we are at ease and well taken care of, we are better able to make sound decisions that consider the big picture. When we are under pressure, however, we automatically prepare to fight, flee, or freeze. According to a Stanford.edu article, when we act on instinct, we make decisions based on the benefits that will occur in the short term rather than the benefits that will occur in the long term.
This makes perfect sense as well. When confronted with a threat, a hunter-gatherer society would be far better served by acting in the short term rather than looking to the future. If there was a wolf at the cave door, for example, you would want to flee to save your life (short-term thinking). You wouldn’t want to stay because you’d have to find another cave or sleep outside (long-term thinking).
This helps to explain why so many of us reach for junk food when we don’t get enough sleep, are hungry, or are stressed in other ways!
“You can’t just drop a bad habit; you have to replace it with a good one,” my friend Anne Bogle, who writes the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, says about breaking bad habits. If you want to be successful, you must have a strategy in place.
Instead of relying on willpower to “stop” eating junk food, it is preferable to set positive goals like the ones listed below:
- Including vegetables in your breakfast every day
- Only use healthy fats in your cooking.
- Make all of your sweets and treats at home with real food ingredients (but not setting a limit on them yet)
- This way, you’re not just trying to avoid doing something else; you’re accomplishing something.
Make Yourself Ready for Success
It is critical to put yourself in a position to achieve your goals, as well as to set optimistic goals rather than pessimistic ones. It will be difficult to maintain this goal if you want to eat healthier but make no other changes to your lifestyle. If there is candy and other unhealthy foods in the house, you will have to rely on your willpower once more. If you work late and have nothing planned for dinner, it will be difficult to resist the temptation to order delivery.
Instead, begin preparing for your new diet and exercise routines
This entails stocking the house with nutritious snacks and devising a strategy for preparing nutritious dinners each night (a meal planning app like Real Plans comes in handy here!). I leave very little room for error in my kitchen because I only stock it with nutritious options.
The Short Version of Maintaining Diet Consistency
When it comes down to it, we can’t keep framing the issue of weight management as one centered solely on issues of self-control and overeating. The problem is much more likely to be rooted in underlying health issues as well as poor nutrition. The best way to finally stick to a diet and lose weight is to improve the quality of the food we eat while also making room in our lives for healthy eating.