Letters to a new dieter

My friend Valerie is the poster child for Weight Watchers. She lost around 50 lbs. with their plan and has kept it off for years. She follows the program, and keeps herself in check all the time. She's a friggin' anomaly.

I have so much respect for her, but I just couldn't do it. A couple of days ago she asked me, "If you could give someone who has never been on a diet any advice what would it be?"

Here's the real reason why you have a hard time staying on a diet.

My first thought: "There are people that have never been on a diet? Good for them!"

My advice would be to stay that way. But that wasn't really what she was asking so I responded, I would tell them to eat real food. That just because something is low calorie doesn't mean it's healthy, and just because something is high in fat doesn't mean it isn't. I'd tell them to learn to cook for themselves and to not aim for perfection but sustainability. I guess the one thing I've learned on my end is that extremes don't work for me--I can't handle the pressure to be perfect. But that's just me; some people work unbelievably well in truly structured environments and giving themselves any modicum of dietary freedom sends them spiraling out of control.

So, if you were to encounter one of these mythical creatures who has never dieted, what would your advice be?

Be sure to check out Elastic Waist's Top 10 diet tips we don't follow.

[photo credit: Getty Images]