Great Health Guide


- Regina Tilyard

Some helpful non-diet tips to fight fad diets

Dieting is one of the most common New Year’s resolution­s, with many of us seeing the new year as an opportunit­y for a fresh start. But unfortunat­ely, each year more than 50% of us report back that our resolution to diet has failed. No, this doesn’t mean that we’re not working hard enough. It proves what health experts have been trying to tell us and what the dieting industry doesn’t want us to know: fad diets don’t work.


Apart from taking all the enjoyment away from eating, diets are not individual­ised. Bodies come in different shapes and sizes and have unique needs based on our age, gender, lifestyle, taste preference­s and culture. This makes dieting almost impossible to sustain, meaning we’re setting ourselves up for a struggle.


Steer clear of any diet advising you to skip meals, exclude food groups, purchase ‘revolution­ary’ supplement­s or products, or follow rules and restrictio­ns that take the enjoyment away from eating. They may seem like an easy way to shed kilograms, but our bodies are always working to outsmart us by adapting in a number of ways.

• By restrictin­g our food intake, causes the release of the appetite-stimulatin­g hormone ghrelin, which sends sends physical signals to our body including hunger pangs, food cravings and light-headedness.

• Our metabolism is highly adaptable, thus drasticall­y reducing our daily kilojoule intake will actually cause our metabolism to slow down. This is definitely bad news for when the diet finishes, our body has now become less efficient at metabolisi­ng an increased kilojoule intake.

• Losing weight quickly, often means that instead of shedding fat, rapid weight loss is usually just the loss of muscle tissue and fluid.

• Dieting takes a huge psychologi­cal toll on our wellbeing by damaging our relationsh­ip with food. Our biological reaction to restrictin­g something, is to want it more, causing us to think about food more often than usual and experience food cravings. This can lead to stress, guilt and even binge eating.

Of course, it’s important to make healthy food choices, but it’s time to swap dieting for a fresh approach. Rather than cutting out food groups or counting calories, focus on small and sustainabl­e dietary changes that are built to last a lifetime. If eating healthily is on your New Year’s agenda, try these sustainabl­e non-diet tips to fight the fad diet.

Here are some sustainabl­e non-diet tips:

1. Have patience. Everyone wants to lose 3kg by yesterday. Remember that steady progress will prevent weight from plateauing, or worse, increasing. This will allow your metabolism to adapt appropriat­ely.

2. Take one step at a time. Take things slowly by setting an achievable initial goal, such as monitoring your portion

size, eating more veggies at dinner or cooking lunch to bring to work.

3. Swap it, don’t stop it. Rather than restrictin­g foods you love, search for healthier alternativ­es. Focus on one or two swaps per week, such as swapping to reduced-fat dairy products, or trade your afternoon crisps for air-popped popcorn.

4. Learn to eat mindfully. Stop labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and start learning to listen to your hunger and fullness levels. Eat for nourishmen­t and appreciate foods that you love, in moderation.

5. Set weekly goals. Improving your eating habits may not be easy, so it can be helpful to keep a written record of your goals to allow you to plan appropriat­ely, track your progress and stay accountabl­e.

6. Enjoy a variety of foods. Challenge yourself to incorporat­e new recipes and fresh produce into your repertoire. You’ll get a bonus of extra nutrients by enjoying different colours and flavours, but more importantl­y you will be less likely to become bored from repetition and resort back to your old ways.

With this improved outlook on nutrition, 2020 will be the year that we keep our New Year’s resolution­s by fighting the fad diets and fuelling our bodies with nourishing foods. By enjoying fresh, healthy foods and making small changes every day, we’ll be one step closer to maintainin­g a healthy weight and reaping additional benefits of improved mood, concentrat­ion, gut health and exercise performanc­e. With resolution­s like these, let’s leave fad diet culture back in 2019, as a thing of the past.

Regina Tilyard is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, passionate about helping her clients meet their nutrition goals by enhancing their knowledge of food and nutrition, developing mindful eating habits and collaborat­ing on achievable dietary strategies. Regina is contactabl­e via her clinic website.

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