If you’ve ever been on a weight loss diet, you know how difficult it is to stay the course, achieve your target weight, and then maintain it for months and years. The majority of dieters fail to maintain their low weight for over a year.
For many, a diet means a temporary sacrifice and inconvenience in order to reach a certain goal (Weddings, bikini season, etc..). But unlike other one time sacrifices – working as a teen all summer long to save up money to buy a car, or spending 4 years crunching textbooks to get an engineering degree – once you’ve achieved your goal, you’ve got to continue working hard to maintain it.
Jennifer LaRue Huget, Washington Post’s Eat Drink and Be Healthy blogger, has a great piece on a current trend:
…a subtle shift in the diet-guidance market: Instead of prescribing eating regimens, many weight-loss experts are suggesting that we reevaluate our relationship with food, focus on eating healthful whole foods and use psychology to aid our efforts to shed pounds. read more…
What you need to know:
The weight loss industry is a huge business and still growing – close to $70 billion in revenue expected this year alone (compare to $500 billion we spend on groceries). But obviously something is afoul, as the average American is still getting heavier year after year.
A lifestyle change seems like a better approach, because habits are, well, habitual. We get used to doing things a certain way, and then it’s not an effort to continue doing them. For example, getting into the habit of eating whole grain products instead of refined grains. Getting into the habit of drinking only water. Getting used to less salty food over the course of several months through gradual reduction. Ditto for sugar.
We’re not saying that this is easy. If you’ve been drinking pop for 30 years, making it a habit to drink just water is a daunting task. That’s why starting young is a key success factor. If your children equate thirst with water, not juice, that’s a life lesson that will help them manage their weight ten or twenty years down the road (not to mention dentist bills).
Another issue to consider is the role that the food industry is playing in creating good or bad lifestyle choices for us. With snacks getting shoved in front of our faces every which way we turn, it’s so easy to succumb to temptation. Think Doritos and Coke when filling up the minivan, a 400 calorie latte at the bookstore, or even a “healthy” 500 calorie snack at the gym after a workout.
What to do at the supermarket:
For those of us complaining about the high price of healthy foods (fresh fruits and vegetables) here is some interesting math: 72 million Americans are on some sort of diet. They will spend $70B this year on dieting. That works out to almost $1000 per person spent on dieting, on average. Imagine using those $1000 to improve the quality and nutrition of the products you purchase – an extra $20 a week to get more nutrients into your body. And if you kick the soft drink habit, switching to tap water – that’s another $125 of savings annually.
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