According to a New Year’s resolution survey by L.A. Fitness, three-quarters of the people who make New Year’s resolutions break their promises by the end of February. As we’re now well into Spring 2013, frustrated resolution-makers might be asking, “Why can’t I stick to my diet?”
In some cases, the problem might not actually be you; the problem might be with the diet. While a SlimFast-type diet might help you shed a few pounds so that you can fit into that wedding dress, it doesn’t provide a formula for long-term sustainability. After a while, a SlimFast-type of diet becomes boring and hard to follow.
Understanding how many diets there are that are hard to stick with over the long-term, we’ve put together this list of three diets that you’ll find are healthy enough to help you lose weight but fun enough that you’ll be able to stick with them over a long period of time.
1. The Mediterranean Diet
Perhaps you’ve seen with your own eyes the relatively slimmer population of Mediterranean Europe. Despite their penchant for red wine, olive oil and freshly baked bread, residents of the nations that border the Mediterranean seem healthier overall than the average American. When scientists noticed this phenomenon, they started studying it to find out more. What they discovered is that the traditional Mediterranean diet is filled with healthy whole foods that Americans are often missing out on.
If you were to look at a food pyramid of the Mediterranean diet, you would find that fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains make up the pyramid’s base. Due to their proximity to the sea, these cultures also eat a large amount of fish and shellfish. They eat slightly less chicken, eggs, cheese and yogurt, and they round their diet out with relatively small amounts of red meat and pork. An additional important point is that residents of nations around the Mediterranean tend to be far more physically active, walking from place to place within their towns and villages rather than driving.
The Mediterranean diet allows for a wide variety of foods, preventing the dieter from ever getting bored. For this reason, it’s one of the easiest healthy diets to stick to.
2. The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet, sometimes referred to as the primal diet or caveman diet, is based around the idea that human beings did not evolve to eat grains and other processed foods. Rather, we have essentially the same hunter-gatherer bodies as we did 10,000 years ago when modern agriculture was in its infancy. Before modern agriculture, proponents of this diet argue, we didn’t eat things like wheat, rice or barley. Rather, we ate wild fruits, wild vegetables, nuts and meats.
Before turning away from the notion of eating only what a caveman might have eaten, consider that even the paleo diet provides a rather wide range of foods. Lean meats, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits make up the bulk of this diet, along with the encouragement to exercise as a caveman might have — that is, do a lot of walking, a little lifting and an occasional run. Like the Mediterranean diet, the paleo diet is exceptionally easy to stick to once you get into the habit of following its precepts.
3. The Best Life Diet
The two diets mentioned above are based around traditional ways of eating food. This next diet, the Best Life Diet, is one of many diets that has been developed by a modern scientist as a way of addressing the Western weight problem.
The diet has three major phases to it, each one encouraging you to change your eating patterns a little bit more. During the first phase, you continue to eat as you normally do, but you limit yourself to three meals and one snack per day. During this time, the diet only emphasizes creating the habit of drinking a glass of water with every meal and the habit of taking a daily multivitamin and omega-3 supplement.
During the second phase, you make big changes to how you eat. You completely eliminate soft drinks, fried foods, white bread, dairy products and regular pasta. At the same time, you start exercising more. This phase of the diet lasts for at least four weeks.
The final phase of the diet is the phase you are meant to stick to for the rest of your life. You can eat the foods you cut out in the second phase if you use them only in moderation, but you try to make the bulk of your diet consist of vegetables. You also try to eat fruit at least twice per day and only consume whole grains.
The stair-stepping approach of this diet is what leads us to add it to this list of easy-to-follow diets for the long-term.
Conclusion: Lifestyle Changes That Last
These three diets all emphasize a particular lifestyle over a particular menu of foods. In all three cases, dieters are encouraged to change not just what they eat but how they think about food in general. It is making this change that is central to sticking with these diets and with diets in general.