In a recent discussion with a friend, she blurted out "healthy eating and dieting are the same thing." I winced. If that is true, then I must have been dieting for years! How awful!
Contrary to popular belief, healthy eating and dieting are two very different things. Unfortunately, healthy eating is really misunderstood and there's a chance most people have acquired some preconceived ideas about healthy eating and what it actually entails. Here are five misconceptions I just have to put to rest.
- Misconception 1: If you eat healthy, you must be on a diet. Too often, the word "diet" is confused with the concept of dieting. Most people equate dieting with deprivation, especially as related to foods they love. Whether you are at your ideal weight or trying to lose weight, eating healthy is NOT dieting. It IS eating a healthy diet, however, which is a proactive lifestyle choice. If you want to eat healthy, you are choosing to do so. You choose to optimize the way you eat to look and feel your best.
- Misconception 2: Eating healthy is boring, tastes awful and is never satisfying. Truth be told, eating healthy can taste better…can be wonderfully varied…and can fill you up for longer periods of time than food that is unhealthy. Many individuals who make a long-term switch to a healthier diet swear that they don't miss the unhealthy foods they once ate. Some actually find them distasteful and unsatisfying! As you eat higher quality foods, your cravings for those that are bad for you and lack nutritional value will diminish.
- Misconception 3: There is a secret to weight loss. There is absolutely no secret, no magic pill and no trick to losing weight. You are an individual with individual needs. As a result, fad diets and "secret weight-loss programs" may work for some, but not necessarily for others. Even still, those that find that these fad diets work…only do in the short term. Anything that seems too good to be true, often is.
- Misconception 4: You need to count calories to be successful. Although food journaling is advisable, it isn't necessary. For the most part, calorie counting is a must for those people who don't eat REAL food that is REALLY healthy. It's when we eat unhealthy foods that we need to count and track what we ingest because we're consuming a lot of empty calories that provide very little, if any, nutrition.
- Misconception 5: Eating healthy is difficult and complicated. Eating a healthy diet is not rocket science. It never has been and it never will be. Don't tell the experts this, but you don't need a degree in nutrition, a PhD or an MD to eat well. All you need is a basic, easy-to-implement framework that will demystify the realm of healthy eating and provide simple, common sense rules that are easy to remember and easy to put into action.
Next time you are considering going on a diet…think about the more appealing alternative: A lifestyle that incorporates healthy eating. Change your perspective and see the power it has on your overall health and well-being…not to mention, your waistline!
Have you embarked on a healthy lifestyle that has proven these misconceptions wrong? Any you'd like to add?
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