We all want to improve our health so that we can live a long and happy life. However, actually living a healthy life is much easier said than done. Many of us struggle with this because we have an “all or nothing” mentality. Fortunately, there is another way. You can make small, practical changes that will help you live a happier, healthier life. Let’s learn about the differences between dieting and lifestyle changes.
What is a Diet?
A diet is a set of rules of what you can and cannot eat. It kinda’ makes food good or bad. Dieting is often very focused on the end goal: weight loss. It usually involves a pretty strict list of “good” foods and “bad” foods. When people diet, they often focus on the foods that they cannot have. Those are usually foods they enjoy – like sweets, carbs, and fried foods. Does this feel & sound familiar?
What is a Lifestyle Change?
A lifestyle change takes a more wholistic approach. Like a diet, there is a focus on changing your eating habits, but lifestyle changes also include your exercise and sleep habits. When you make a lifestyle change, you focus more on the positive. You think of the foods you can eat and take joy in preparing new foods in new ways. You also learn new skills and actively work to improve yourself.
Diets vs Lifestyle Changes
Dieting is a short-term solution. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be very useful if you have a specific goal in mind – like a competition, vacation or big event. Dieting is usually dramatic and can be difficult. This also means that dieting will not last forever. When you follow a strict diet, you will eventually splurge and have a hard time getting back on the wagon. This can lead to weight gain and loss of progress.
Lifestyle changes are long-term solutions. These are small habits that you develop and do every day. They are doable because you enjoy them. You do not feel deprived because lifestyle changes include balance. You may normally eat lots of fruits and veggies, but a trip through the fast food drive through won’t derail you for weeks. You know one bad meal doesn’t negate your whole day.
Which is better?
When it comes to choosing between a diet or lifestyle changes, it is better to focus on lifestyle changes. However, diets can be used to kickstart a lifestyle change (this is what we do in our 5 week Challenge.) If you are struggling with your weight or eating habits, then a diet can help you get on the right track. However, you need to use your diet as a way to learn what small habits will help you maintain a healthy life once the time of deprivation ends. That means you should look for positive things you can happily incorporate into your daily life, like healthy recipes you love or an eating schedule that works best for you.
When you combine healthy eating with exercise and rest, you have a recipe for success. The key is to find healthy habits that work for you. So, the next time you are tempted to cut out all carbs and only survive on juice, remember that small, manageable changes are the key to long-term success. You will feel better and be healthier!