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Secrets to a Good Diet

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N* -

Some people lose and maintain their weight more easily than others. Very few people experience long-term success with popular, trendy diets.

Why do diets only work for some people? Is losing weight just pure luck or is there something that can help us all be successful?

Two groups, two attitudes

For many years overweight and obesity has been the subject of research for scientists who continue to search for answers to this problem. As a result of these studies, two groups of participants with very different approaches to dieting have emerged.

The first group is made up of people who manage to lose weight but then gain it back quickly. The second is made up of those who lose weight and manage to keep a great percentage off over the years.

Scientists conclude that people from the second group, who had success with dieting, don't try to solve their weight problems with "miracle" diets or "quick fixes," but rather, they approach it realistically, as a serious health issue.

Ten keys to success

People belonging to the fortunate second group have 10 characteristics in common, which include the following:

  • Following a personalized diet plan.People who follow a personalized diet plan that is compatible with their lifestyle, are more likely to succeed than those who follow diet trends found in magazines, or quick-fix types of diets. The best personalized diets, in addition to including a balanced eating plan, include a low number of calories from saturated fats, a moderate percentage of lean protein, and a solid base of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Including regular physical activity.A healthy lifestyle should include not only a balanced diet, but also a good exercise plan. People who are successful in losing weight should know that they must stay physically active if they want to keep weight off.
  • Seeking support from family and friends.If the people close to us know about our intentions to improve our health, they can help us when we experience moments of weakness, or even join us in our weight-loss goals.
  • Establishing a long-term commitment.People who are committed to making permanent changes in their lives avoid "quick fixes" or ‘"miracle" diets because they know that in general these do not provide long-term results.
  • Rewarding yourself for your achievements.Every so often, or every time you reach a certain number of pounds lost, give yourself a reward for your achievements. Though it is okay to treat yourself every now and then to your favorite less-healthy foods, try to reward yourself with non-food related treats, such as a relaxing massage, facial treatment, or haircut.
  • Not letting food control your emotions.Since many people often turn to food when they have problems or feel certain emotions, this will require some effort. Identify emotions or problematic situations that frequently prompt you to turn to food. When those problems or emotions surface, make a plan for how you can react without using food. Try participating in other activities, such as exercising, chatting with friends, or meditating, to distract yourself.
  • Having confidence in yourself.People who are determined can easily build confidence in themselves. Recognize that reaching a goal is not easy. When you do reach a goal, take a moment to bask in the glory and be proud of yourself.
  • Making realistic, permanent changes.You can't expect to achieve permanent changes after the first week of dieting. Instead, introduce changes gradually and safely, and eventually they will become lifelong habits.
  • Not trying to be perfect.If we accept that perfection doesn't exist, that obstacles will get in our way, but we still manage to keep our heads held high, we will avoid making the same mistakes twice.
  • Desiring a healthier and happier life.People who understand that the main reason for controlling their weight is not to improve physical appearance, but rather is to achieve good health and prevent disease, will lead happier lives.



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