Motivation Behind Dieting Has Changed, Diets Must Too

A new report has found that people don’t diet for the same reasons they used to. With that in mind, the old way of dieting doesn’t fit these new goals.

The Mayo Clinic surveyed more than 200,000 people. Eighty-three percent said their top reason for dieting was to attain better health. That beat out other motivators like physical appearance and worries about being judged for their weight. More than 50 percent of the people surveyed said they had tried and failed at a restrictive fad diet.

The problem with fad diets is that they are all about numbers — the number of calories or macros you are eating and the numbers you are seeing on the scale. Nutritionists have been suggesting the same thing for years when you are dieting for your health: eating a healthy, varied diet low in processed foods and rich in nutrients. They’ll tell you to avoid snacking and move more but to avoid diets with restrictive rules and harsh calorie counts. Of course, there are exceptions. If your doctor prescribes you a specific diet, you should follow it. But for the most part, you should eat a balanced diet of whole foods and read labels to know what you’re putting in your body.  

It’s all about changing your mindset and approach to food, not the latest craze diet. “This doesn’t have to be drudgery,” Dr. Donald Hensred, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, said. “Managing weight should be practical, realistic and enjoyable enough to be sustainable.”

The Mayo Clinic has a diet that they suggest people follow with two phases: Lose it and Live it. We’ve covered it in the past. But the Mediterranean diet is a wonderful option that is highly sustainable. What separates both of these from fad diets is that they retrain you to live a healthier lifestyle, not just lose weight. When you aren’t focusing on the scale or your waist size, but instead on health results, you need to make gentler but more permanent changes. A fad diet can help you lose 20 pounds. But, if you gain it all back, your health and self-esteem may suffer. Following a more permanent lifestyle diet where you shift your actions, and eating habits can be sustainable. You do lose weight with these diets. But, it’s generally more gradual, and you see other health benefits for your heart, brain and blood sugar.

Fifty-five percent of people in the survey reported having dieted six or more times in their lives. People are motivated to change their behavior and health. But it is so hard to stick with diets with rules. When you shift your goals away from fitting into a specific size and start trying to eat your way to better health, you may have an easier time sticking to your plan and see long-term positive results.  

Banner image: Derick McKinney via Unsplash

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