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Don’t Die Dieting, Understand the Basics

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The dictionary defines DIET as the kind of food that one restricts themselves to, or habitually eats, either to lose weight, gain weight, or for certain medical purposes. Hence, the basic premise is that a dieting plan simply describes what one consumes in terms of food and drink, as a way of life, and not necessarily to curb the appetite.

In the urban scenario of our modern world – the word ‘diet’ has been grossly misinterpreted. It has largely become a word for some or the other quick fix, instant gratification fad method of most weight loss programs. It lends itself to highly restrictive meal plans and a billion dollar industry leading one to believe that the more you starve yourself, the quicker and easier you shall lose weight.

The most important point to note here, is the fact that trying to deprive yourself of all the essential nutrients and minerals that the body requires, actually ends up having a far detrimental effect on the body in the long run. Resisting the urge to eat what one likes and prefers, and avoiding one’s favourite foods and food types, may be successful for a brief period, but as soon as one believes that a certain goal and purpose of such a restrictive approach has been achieved, the urge to then go back to their regular food and drink can be infinitely higher.

After all, the body has to cover up for all the restrictions placed on it earlier and one can easily end up consuming a lot more than required. It makes it even tougher when a certain ‘diet plan’ may have worked for an individual, then they go back to normal regular meals and all the hard work of earlier gets lost within weeks. It’s a classic case of the forbidden fruit being much sweeter – restricting the food cravings of the body lead to eventually a much higher consumption once things are back to normal.  That brings me to what this article primarily is about – Don’t Die Dieting!

It is imperative for people to realise what exactly does a ‘diet’ mean, and what is their respective main purpose of getting into a diet program, of any kind. There are also multiple fad diets out in the market, and I shall try and provide some information about a few of them.

As mentioned above, an ideal diet plan should not be restrictive. It should be about the perfect mix of necessary nutrients, in their correct portions and varieties.

Few basic important points necessary to enable yourself in having a full yet balanced meal during the entire day, without having to resort to any ‘crash / restrictive diet’ plans, are:

1. Practice Portion Control

Food servings have grown larger over the years. We have gone from small-sized portions to supersized meals – and even more so in the fast food / restaurant food industry. It is imperative to consume small portions of food. Most of the consumption is to satiate our taste buds and not necessarily our body requirements. If the meal contains all the necessary nutrients, minerals, protein etc as required by our bodies, then larger portions are quite unnecessary.

2. Variety is Key

Just as an automobile needs the necessary fuel injected into its engine, for it to run its entire machinery smoothly, our body is also a highly complex system that requires a variety of healthy diet to feed its own ‘machinery’ and for us to be able to run smoothly. This implies that our diet should have the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, along with a multitude of various other nutrients. An ideal diet plan should include complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables; ‘good fats’ such as omega-3 fatty acids from fish and monounsaturated fats from avocados, nuts, olive oil. As well as lean protein such as eggs, fish and chicken.

Most of the fad diets that keep surfacing from time to time, exclude the main factor of a wholesome and inclusive meal plan, and are highly restrictive in their variety of food on offer. This may not cause an immediate problem, but in the long run, there are various health issues that are liable to crop up, as a result of the body not getting its necessary nutrients.

3. Refuse Bad Fats

This is largely the only thing to be completely minimised or better still, removed from your diet, and is largely the single thing that most fad diets also rely upon. Much of the saturated fats from animal sources, trans fats from fried foods, oily and/or packaged snacks, and nearly all of the fast-food products are all under this category. These provide absolutely zero nutrition and daily consumption can lead to some serious health issues.

4. Eat 6 a Day

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The basic idea is an extension of the portion control point. It is better to consume 5-6 smaller portions a day, rather than 2-3 large meals. It is also important to mention that skipping a meal is never the right approach, for example, many people skip dinner, thinking it will help them lose weight quicker. Starving the body is never a good thing. And that’s also why smaller portions throughout the day, are a better idea as it keeps the body energised.

5. Exercise

The general rule of thumb is, to exercise at least 150 minutes each week. This, of course, depends upon an individual’s specific requirements – weight gain, weight loss etc, but to keep ourselves in the pink of health, and to avoid a sedentary lifestyle that many become accustomed to, this is the basic requirement so as to get the body some exercise. Some dieticians also tell people to stop exercising and focus solely on the diet plans, and this can be highly detrimental to the overall development and health of any individual. An ideal diet plan takes into account the necessity of at least some basic exercise, rather than focus on trying to remove that from an individual’s daily plan.


IMG_20160603_164712Text by Avni Kaul

A certified Diabetes Educator from Project Hope and International Diabetes Federation. She can be contacted at

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