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Does January = Diet?

scaleNow that January is here, almost everyone we know is starting their annual diet. I cannot even count the number of diets I’ve started, some a complete and total failure almost immediately, some more manageable. Even thin people seem to think, worry and even obsess about their weight.  And so for many people new year= new diet, and back to making themselves and everyone around them crazy. I think one of the greatest myths many of us swallow is that diet=healthy.

The worst problem (for me) about dieting is that it is virtually impossible for me to be on a diet and be happy at the same time, and for me unhappy ≠ healthy! Generally within a few weeks of being on a diet I become obsessed with the foods that are now off limits. I can go months without craving fried chicken, cookies or ice cream, but tell me I can’t have them, and they’re all I want. 

It would be fantastic if I could offer you the secret magic trick to losing weight without exercising and giving up your favorite foods (ever heard that before?) but sadly I cannot. Really, no one can, and anyone who says they can is lying, or their favorite food is green salad without dressing. Fat is bad, meat is bad, sugar is bad, carbohydrates are bad, you are bad. But you’re not bad, and neither is your food. Food is good, you are good, and enjoying food is really good.

gnocchi ready to eat

January is definitely a great time for a reset, but if your reset includes a diet chances are within four to six weeks you’ll be feeling like a failure, and punishing yourself for falling off the wagon (again). Here is where I’ll offer you my secret magic trick for extending your happy new year, and staying happy, and we all know happy=healthy! Don’t do it! Don’t cave, don’t give in to the exhortations of every magazine and article you’re seeing, and start another diet! If you’re committed to making some changes, or rethinking how and what you eat, and incorporating that into your fabulous life, that sounds like a great idea! If you’ve had a season of overindulgence, and a lot less exercise (I know I have) then get your ass back to the gym (I know I will) and think about eating food that makes you feel good, and minimizing the stuff that makes you feel lousy.

My diet eating advice is the following:

  • Eliminate as much processed food as possible (this includes almost any food that comes in a box)
  • Stop drinking soda (even diet soda)
  • Cook! 
  • Eat when you are hungry, and eat food you love (eating what you like is satisfying, and you won’t be fighting constant cravings)
  • Learn to love vegetables (a friend once gave me some great advice; don’t give up anything, just add a lot more vegetables) 

Like most of my writing, I am directing this as much to myself as to you. Instead of starting the year gritting your teeth, clenching your fists, and swearing (through your gritted teeth) that this year, this diet will be different, I invite you to start the year with the resolve to enjoy real, whole, well prepared food, and embrace the notion that diet≠happy, and that happy=healthy!

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  • January 5, 2015 - 10:16 am

    Jill - Agree! Diets never work! Small incremental lifestyle changes are the key, as well as not beating yourself up if you ‘cheat’! There really should be no bad foods. Just things you eat more if and things you eat in moderation.ReplyCancel

    • January 5, 2015 - 10:34 am

      nrlowell@comcast.net - Jill, so true! The stats on successful diets are bleak, and leave us feeling like failures… not good!ReplyCancel

  • January 5, 2015 - 12:01 pm

    Quirky Chrissy - No real resolutions here. It’s all about the enjoyment of life! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 5, 2015 - 12:46 pm

      nrlowell@comcast.net - Damn right Chrissy!ReplyCancel

  • January 5, 2015 - 8:49 pm

    Tara Dunn McCollum - I love how you crossed off the word “diet”. It’s eating, it’s LIVING. You can’t diet forever, I mean you could but you’d be pretty miserable. We need to learn to make lifestyle changes and it doesn’t always mean we have to deny ourselves, we just need to be smarter. Great post!!ReplyCancel

    • January 6, 2015 - 8:28 am

      nrlowell@comcast.net - Tara, thanks I couldn’t agree with you more!ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2015 - 1:53 pm

    Jo-Lynne Shane - I so agree. I try never to use the word diet. I do try to eat as much real food as possible. And getting off soda is the best thing I ever did for my health!ReplyCancel

    • January 8, 2015 - 11:09 am

      nrlowell@comcast.net - Jo-Lynne, I have been on more diets than I can count, and yet I am still overweight… Diets (for most people) just don’t work. I wish they did.ReplyCancel

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