Getting Healthy vs. Losing Weight

Woman with daughter and granddaughter preparing food in kitchen.
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CHARLOTTE – Across the country, people are always trying to lose weight. There are more diet plans, quick weight loss pills, and fad diets that one can count. The problem with these plans, pills, and diets is they are not a long-term life change. These fad diets are sold to people as a “quick” solution to being able to lose weight very rapidly over a very short time. They are promoted to help people lose weight quickly using a very restrictive diet,  pills,  extreme diet food planning rules, and/or telling you to eliminate certain food groups from your everyday diet. 

Fad diets do promote quick weight loss, but there is a huge issue with these plans: they deplete your body of nutritional needs that have short and long-term effects. Although there are types of diets that restrict certain foods, these are special diets that are used only under the care of a physician and are designed for special situations. Using a diet that is restrictive of certain food groups often leads your body to lack major nutrients that are needed, especially dietary fiber and carbohydrates. Over a period of time, the body starts to lack minerals, protective phytochemicals, and vitamins. The effects of these lead to serious health problems.

Caroline Garrison MS, RD, LDN
Caroline Garrison MS, RD, LDN

“Fad diets don’t work because they’re hard to sustain, leading to temporary if any results,” says Caroline Garrison MS, RD, LDN.  “When the diet isn’t working anymore, dieters tend to start another diet, and it becomes an endless cycle. Fad diets are restrictive with foods, inconvenient, and can even be harmful. Our bodies want balance, not deprivation. If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  Breaking away from fad diets and fueling the body to feel good with healthy eating habits that include all the food groups, on the other hand, will have one of the best side effects: weight loss. 

A weight loss goal is what many are looking to achieve, but if we thought of “diets” and “losing weight” in another light, the pressure of these “plans” or “goals” becomes so overwhelming that the goal is often lost.  Garrison is an advocate for making sure that people are totally breaking away from these fad diets and thinking about what fuels their body for nutritional needs. When the body is fed with the nutrients that it needs from food and healthy exercise, the weight loss will come with the lifestyle change. Changing your lifestyle to learn learn to eat for fuel for the body will be a change that over time will show results, and not only with weight loss.  The biggest achievement will be that you will feel better and be motivated to keep maintaining a lifestyle that promotes health and nutrition rather than always worrying about what you can and can not eat and when you can eat it. 

Fueling the body with food – a well-balanced diet that includes all the good groups – is the best way to diet. The balance of fueling your body for health and nutrients includes portion control but does not eliminate food groups from the diet totally. Eating a well-balanced and portion-controlled diet that includes lean proteins, lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will give the body what it needs to be happy and healthy along with a side effect that everyone will feel the best about – weight loss – and that goal will be in sight and much easier to achieve. When the body has the food groups and nutrients that it needs to optimize performance, it will also start to lessen those carvings of sugary, fatty, and unhealthy treats. Over time, the body will feel good, look good, and overall health will start to increase.

Fad diets are a promotional tool that companies across the globe are creating each day. They put before us the idea that we can easily and quickly lose weight with little to no effort. These diets lead to unrealistic goals with the most important goal being left out: a lifestyle change. The diets that have quick fixes, restrict food groups, and just plain “seem to be too good to be true” are. The motivation that the body will have once you feed it to fuel it will have the side effect of weight loss. Fueling the body with a good, well-balanced diet and exercising regularly with a focus on health will make it happen.  Make sure to fuel your body, not feed your body. The difference will create a feel-good reaction that promotes a healthy lifestyle. 

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Jessica Mentzer
Jessica Mentzer is a mother and freelance writer that loves to travel and write. Whenever she is not traveling with her family or writing she enjoys hiking, canoeing, swimming, and spending time with her two children. She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys watching her children grow and learn each day. Her passion for writing and her love for travel are two things that she loves to share with friends and family.