We’re all familiar with serious diet products for weight loss that feel like a total overhaul of your lifestyle. They might ask you to cut out entire food groups, clean out your pantry, skip meals entirely, or never eat your favorite foods. These types of products have been the standard for years. But why? Why does it have to be so difficult?!
Because, according to the diet product creators, you’ve been doing everything all wrong, of course! That’s why you have high body fat in the first place. Clearly, your lifestyle needs a total overhaul. It is suspiciously intuitive that if you were to do something totally different—like this new crazy diet—you’d finally lose that weight.
This negative way of thinking about people with high body fat is pervasive, and it is at the root of why people create such diets. Worse, people with high body fat are used to being told what to do. When they believe this “I need an overhaul” narrative about themselves, it’s why such diets sell well. It’s profitable for them to make you believe you’re the problem.
A New Way to Think About Fat Loss
In reality, this thinking is usually wrong. There are over 90 different documented reasons someone can develop obesity. And even if lifestyle changes can help reduce body fat, many of the reasons people gain body fat have nothing to do with your lifestyle. So it’s possible that you don’t need a huge overhaul of your diet at all to reduce body fat.
Another reason people write a standard “blanket” diet for everyone is that it’s easy. It will work if you can just follow it. But people are not all the same, and often people cannot follow a standard blanket diet. All people do not have the same culture, the same priorities, the same body, the same physiology, the same nutrition needs. So why would the same “blanket” diet work for everyone?
Therefore, diets that just tell people what to do without asking the individual about their lifestyle are doomed to fail. A drastic, “blanket” approach is usually exceedingly difficult to sustain for most people. When people try a new diet that doesn’t work out, it reinforces the biased idea that the individual is to blame for this “failure” because they could not stick to the new approach and just returned to their “old ways.” In reality, they did not fail the diet; the diet failed them.
Changing Your Mindset to Lose Weight
It’s a significant mindset shift to believe that you can lose weight without an overhaul of your lifestyle. You have to reverse all the incorrect narratives in your mind about yourself and why you are the weight you are. Once you have done this, however, it is reasonable to expect that someone might ask you about the type of treatment approach you would like to engage in before you engage in it.
Think about how you would typically learn about and decide on a course of treatment for any health condition. Usually a healthcare provider would gather information about you and make a treatment recommendation that is based on the logistics of the treatment given your life circumstances, your individual health, the side effects of treatments, and the potential for optimal treatment outcomes. Treatment to reduce body fat for health should look no different. In the end, the course of action might look quite different from patient to patient.
Choose A Diet Plan That Asks Before it Tells
The reason most diet plans don’t work is that they tell you what to do without first asking about your lifestyle. What you eat is deeply personal and deeply interrelated with many aspects of your life. Therefore, it is logical to look for an approach that seeks some input from you before providing a diet plan.
For example, does the diet plan fit as seamlessly as possible into your day-to-day life? Are the tools you need to eat the right foods in the right amounts available? Do those tools make it simple? Is the food enjoyable, and do you feel physically comfortable eating it? It is perfectly reasonable to expect to be asked certain questions before a diet plan is personalized for you.
A weight loss diet can and should suit your dietary preferences, your individual nutrition needs, your schedule, and your social life. There might, of course, be some small changes to make and accommodations needed, as successful weight loss does usually involve some specific plan. But it should be your plan that meets your specific needs, not a one-size-fits-all approach that will make you feel even worse in the end.