Posted by: suzannern | January 4, 2010

“Diet” versus Lifestyle Change…

A reader’s question answered that many people could benefit from…

Marie, a team leader from SparkPeople asks,

“One of the greatest misconceptions in almost any health site is the word DIET. What troubles me is that the word DIET seems to mean eating celery soup every day and sipping water.

How can I get through to them that planning a good balanced diet based on nourishing food, instead of using one after another ‘diet’ that promise fast weight loss and then cause them to go on a grand binge when they have lost enough weight to make them think they will remain eternally thin, after the diet.

Just rambling here, but maybe you have some hints as to how I can feed them some knowledge and make them interested in paying attention to what I try to encourage them with??”

Thank you for your efforts to help us in holistic health issues.”

Thank you Marie!

I think the first thing we should all do is to totally eliminate the word “diet” from our vocabulary. The word “diet” screams temporary, extreme, and restrictive. All of those adjectives are things that we should avoid.

In order to reach and maintain a healthy weight AND body, one must change their eating habits and/or their physical fitness routine long-term.

Instead of thinking of oneself on “a diet”, think of it as a lifestyle change. I think one of the biggest reasons “diets” don’t work are because there is a lack of long-term compliance. This is most likely due to the fact that many “diets” restrict people from nutrients that the body needs (e.g. healthy carbohydrates, fats etc.) which results in binging as the body over compensates for this deprivation.

So instead of being on a temporary, extreme and restrictive “diet” one must concentrate on a long-term, flexible, and wholesome way to nurture and energize your body. In a nutshell you should be eating REAL, unprocessed food and working your whole body (via both cardio and weight training).

Lifestyle changes are hard but within reach. A few ways to get yourself on a healthy pathway are:
Educate Yourself
Here’s some info and suggested reading to get you started:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell

-Surround yourself with support
(in both the real world and the virtual world…)

Here are a few ideas off of the top of my head…

In the real world:
— educate those open-minded people in your life who are interested in bettering their health.
–join a gym
–take classes (e.g. yoga, kickboxing, anything physical!)
–join your area’s road runner’s club (they often have beginner’s running groups)
–take a health supportive cooking class with a friend or loved one

In the virtual world:
–Success stories abound, especially in the blog-o-sphere. For motivation, please refer to two of my favorite healthy living blogs:
Fitnessista and Oh She Glows. Both Gina and Angela are two beautiful human beings who are not only excellent examples of successful lifestyle changes, but who are also fabulous fitness role models for women in general.
–Join a healthful living site, like this one. SparkPeople has endless support, recipes, fitness ideas and motivating success stories!

Generally, all it takes is a consistent exercise routine and a healthy eating pattern. Physical problems such as hypothyroidism or other metabolic illnesses can make weight loss difficult. If you are having difficulty losing weight and are following an adequate fitness routine and eating healthfully, have your physician check you out for any underlying physical problems that may be influencing you metabolism.

Although brief, I hope this post has helped you. Remember, eat to live, not live to eat.

I’m taking questions! Anything health related! Email me yours at

Disclaimer: Suzanne is a Registered Nurse and Marital Family Therapist. Information in her posts are based on personal experience and research, however, the ideas presented here are not meant to substitute doctors’ recommendations.



  1. hey girl,
    thank you SO much for the lovely shout out ❤
    keep up the amazing work and have a wonderful week!

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