The long-term results of a draconian diet are often disappointing. It’s better to make lasting lifestyle changes.
The obsession with thinness
The social pressure to be thin has never been stronger. Whether it is for esthetic or health reasons, the obsession to reach or maintain a healthy weight is everywhere.
Paradoxically, the obesity rate in North America continues to rise for both the paediatric and adult population. How can this be? The answer to this question is most likely a very complex one. That said, might part of it reside within this search for easy solutions that characterize our era? There is reason to wonder why.
Everyone knows someone who is imprisoned in an ideal image that they are unable to reach. Too many people are ready to inflict the worst punishment on their bodies to have a body shape similar to those we see everywhere in magazines and on Instagram. Fashion diktats are sometimes merciless and harmful, particularly for young minds that are less practised in separating fact from fiction. However, the frenzied quest to be thin can affect anyone regardless of sex, age, and of the situation.
The appeal of draconian diets
It is very easy to succumb to the charms of numerous miracle diets promising quick results without effort. Sometimes added to this is the craze for overly intensive exercise programs, various types of supplementation products, the use of medication, not to mention inappropriate use of substances known for their so-called “positive” effect on weight (cigarettes, psychostimulants, other drugs, etc.). These are some of the rather questionable strategies that have been seen.
It is generally known in the medical community that draconian diets are most often ineffective, even dangerous over time. When deprived, the body calls upon compensatory mechanisms, which explains in part why weight is nearly always later regained. Some individuals end up yo-yo dieting (deprivation, significant weight gain, and so on) and remain perplexed as to why their attempt has failed.
The real winning strategies
A number of causes could be at the root of weight gain:
- a lack of exercise
- poor diet
- taking certain drugs
- a lack of sleep
- psychological or emotional difficulties
Instead of aiming for a specific number on the scale, think more in terms of making lifestyle changes. This will help you to concretely improve your health.
If a person is overweight, it is preferable to focus on the cause rather than on the number of pounds put on. You can try all the diets in the world, but you are unlikely to reach your healthy weight objective if you do not address the root of the problem.
Oftentimes, when a person successfully loses weight over time, it is usually due to a combination of factors and not just one. The best way is to choose a healthy lifestyle (sleep hygiene, physical exercise plan, balanced diet, better stress management, etc.).
Here are some additional tips:
- Follow the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide.
- Commit to an exercise program that you enjoy and that suits your lifestyle. Regardless of the activity you choose, being active is what’s important. By choosing an activity you enjoy and integrating it into your daily routine, there is a greater chance that the habit will stick. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a week. If possible, try to do 30 to 60 minutes each day.
- Eliminate foods from your diet that are associated with junk food (too fatty, sugary or salty).
- Prepare your own meals rather than eating at the restaurant or eating prepared foods.
- Eat food in the least processed form possible.
- Drink water rather than juice or other sugary drinks.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. Do not exceed the amounts recommended by ÉducAlcool.
- Opt for healthy foods (fruit, vegetables, fish, legumes, etc.).
- Respect your satiety cues, when you’re full, stop eating. Eat slowly and take the time to savour your food. You can even take a break halfway through your meal to ask yourself if you are still hungry.
- Take advantage of the sound advice of a nutrition specialist.
- Set aside the scale or use it less frequently.
Whatever your strategies are, focus on the long-term instead of quick and easy solutions. Be consistent and be proud of your efforts.
Remember that your pharmacist is always there to help you and to answer your questions concerning any health issues!