by Lorenzo Baldini
Starting a diet.
Is there anyone who hasn’t tried to control his or her food intake at some point? Dieting is certainly common, and not just for those who are severely overweight. Some people, for example, try to lose just a few pounds, perhaps in advance of an important event, or after an indulgent holiday.
But finding the motivation to start a serious diet is difficult.
How many times have you put on a skirt or pants that fit perfectly last year, then realized they’re now too tight? Suddenly, you declare, “That’s it! My diet starts tomorrow!” In a snap, you make the decision.
And so, you start with a light breakfast. Perfect! At mid-morning, you add a low-calorie fruit snack or a low-fat yogurt—all good! Lunch is also great—a small serving of chicken breast and salad.
“You feel empowered, you’re certain this diet is going to work!
As afternoon rolls around, however, you feel a few pangs of hunger. But it’s only 4 pm, and too early for dinner, so what to do?
”I can eat some fruit,” you tell yourself. And it works, for a little while.
At 5 pm, your hunger resurfaces, and this time the feeling is much stronger. It’s difficult to ignore, but you do your best because it’s almost time for dinner! Minestrone soup, fish, spinach… not exactly an exciting dinner, but you know that dieting involves sacrifice.
Finally, you make it through the first day. And—it starts again the next day… and the next… and the next.
Even though you started strong, your diet becomes boring and frustrating. Plus, you’re hungry all the time. You may feel dissatisfied and even anxious.
Then, after a few days, or perhaps a few weeks, your diet begins to fail. Perhaps you tell yourself it’s okay to eat a package of crackers… or a piece of chocolate… or a bowl of ice cream. As the days go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel that original motivation for your diet. The whole effort turns into a landslide, and it becomes easy to blame your failure on a particular dinner party, or wedding celebration, or some other foodie event.
This is a recurring story from many patients who come to see me. They try different diets, but few manage to actually achieve their desired goal weight. And those people who do achieve goal weight too frequently put the lost weight—and more!—back on, sometimes within a just few months.
Why is it so difficult to maintain a proper diet and the correct weight over time?
There are many reasons. Some are medical, others are psychological, and still others are just practical.
In my experience, those who suddenly decide lose weight have little patience for the actual process. They often are determined to starve themselves and lose the desired weight as quickly as possible.
That is a huge mistake.
Someone who is really trying to lose ten, twenty, thirty, or more pounds must find a method and routine for eating that can be maintained over a long period of time. That means the diet must be well balanced in terms of vitamins and nutrients. It cannot be boring or repetitive. The food needs to be tasty. And the diet must be easy to manage and execute, without requiring any special effort, such as weighing ingredients.
This kind of diet can’t really exist, though, right?
But it does exist! Trust me.
In fact, we can build it together, step by step.