“If you want to lose weight, you should go on a diet.” How often have we heard that before? What is a diet? It is something you do for a limited period of time where you deprive yourself of the foods you love as well as the nutrients you need to survive. It is unpleasant and uncomfortable. When you have finally accomplished your goal, you can finally go back to the lifestyle you so love without any fear of the terrifying negative health consequences.
This may be what we understand to be a diet, but it actually doesn't really exist. There are dietary changes we can make that will in fact make us miserable, and will help us lose weight in the short run. But in the long run without an examination of how the lifestyle that produced the weight problem developed, and discovery of a better alternative, we will surely be relegated to another statistic of the 85+% of the people who lose weight and gain it back.
But more importantly, we can lose weight without feeling deprivation. In reality, for most people to gain weight, they abuse their body with an excess of foods, and improper types of food So to lose weight, we don't need to deprive ourselves; we merely need to stop abusing ourselves. And this actually feels quite good.
Then when we examine our lifestyle, we can discover a way to stop abusing our bodies that is actually more enjoyable. What about the food we so love? A mindful inspection usually unearths the simple truth that the food we love does not love us. And mindfully eating more natural foods produces much more joy. Mindful awareness also yields coping skills that enable us to substitute more fulfilling actions when we have troubles, instead of turning to food.
That said, there are a number of diets that can produce benefits. The only caveat is that in order to enjoy the benefits, you have to go on the diet and maintain it. That's where we come in. Dr. Robert Lustig provides a good overview of the benefits of the major diets in his book Fat Chance. Our approach is to focus on unprocessed foods, although we are agnostic on the different types of diets available. So the best diet is not the one where you can lose weight quickly and then put it right back on. The best diet is the diet your body is asking for, and one you can comfortably maintain even after you have lost weight.