Most people that know me know that I do not like the word ‘diet’ and try to sway people away from using this word. I joke that it is a 4 letter word; eliminate it from your vocabulary. Others say, why be on a diet when it starts with the word ‘die.’ Simply, diets do NOT work. If they worked than we would all be healthy and thin and there would not be 100s on the market. Typically, when someone is on a diet they lose weight and when they get off the diet they gain weight. I am sure most of you have experienced that at one point or another in your life and some of you probably are even on a ‘diet’ now. (Good luck with that and hopefully by the time you are finished reading this you would have changed your mind and your behaviors). I typically categorize something as a diet if you are unable to maintain the behavior and/or if you are restricting yourself. For instance, if you have completely eliminated carbs and said you are never eating carbs again, then that is a diet. If you are on a ‘detox,’ which you cannot maintain for the rest of your life, then that also is clearly a diet. Once again, while you are changing those behaviors in the short term, you will lose weight, but you cannot maintain those behaviors, which means you also cannot maintain that weight loss by doing those behaviors.

The key to weight loss and health is a healthy lifestyle, NOT a diet. When I say healthy lifestyle, I am referring to making healthier choices, planning your meals and activity, staying active, and thinking about the term ‘moderation’. It is not about eliminating anything from what you eat to feel restricted (that would mean you were on a diet), but being more mindful of your choices and your behaviors.

I was recently asked for my thoughts regarding the Paleo Diet. Of course if I was not familiar with this I would have immediately stated “it is a diet, I do not agree with it,” but the Paleo Diet is a bit different. First of all, if you are thinking about starting any new eating or exercise regimen, you should consult with a medical physician, which I am not. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this diet, the Paleo Diet has also been referred to as the hunter-gatherer diet and if you remember this you will remember what the diet is all about—eating foods that are readily available in nature. It consists of eating foods that can be hunted, fished and gathered, such as meat, seafood, eggs, fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthy oils. While, dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars, and processed foods are supposed to be avoided. For more information on this diet you can visit this website Please note, I am not here to endorse any diet, but to just give you my thoughts.

So, now for my thoughts on it….To be honest, I like the idea of this diet, as I always say to try to eat whole, natural, fresh produce, and focus on lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, which this diet does, but I am going to stick with my original statement about diets and ask you this- can you maintain it? This diet does not allow for processed foods, which is possible to eliminate from your life, but very difficult. With that being said, I am going to leave you with this thought—there is a lot of information out there in terms of what you should and should not eat. There are also a lot of diets out there and celebrities giving you their advice on what worked for them. The bottom line is you know what is healthy and you know what is not. If something works for you and you can honestly maintain it for the rest of your life, and it has been Ok’d by your doctor, then great, stick to it, do it, and be healthy. Perhaps you can take parts of some diets and create your own plan that would work for you. Personally, I try to stick to a Paleo-ish diet. I try to avoid processed foods, but do not completely; I eat dairy products, such as low fat yogurt and cheese, which is supposed to be avoided on the Paleo diet, but focus on lean proteins, vegetables and fruits (and I am human, like you and also do have sweets on occasion, but in moderation).

The take home message is: DIETS do not work, but behaviors that you can maintain do work. Make the healthier choice, plan your meals and activity, stay active, and think about the term ‘moderation.’ If you really want that piece of chocolate, have it, but just have a little because if you don’t have it, you will not be satisfied and then overeat something else and eventually ‘fall off your diet.’

I would love your comments and/or questions. Give me an idea for my next blog….