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Don’t Go on a Diet

Make changes that will fuel a lifelong journey of health.

By Dorothea Sarli, MS, RD, LDN

Want to get those 20 pounds off? Going on a diet seems like the most obvious solution. After all, weight loss diets offer hope, a “cure.” They are something you can just “power through” and get results.

So, why not a diet?

First, many diets aren’t healthy. It has been said that your goal is not to fit into a skinny coffin! If your diet requires you to eat foods that are loaded with saturated fat and animal protein, consider the burden you’re asking your arteries, kidneys, and heart to bear.

Second, some diets just don’t work. And when they do work, you gain all the weight back with a slower metabolic rate. After all, diets are temporary. When they’re over, you breathe a sigh of relief and go back to eating all the unhealthy stuff that packed on the pounds in the first place. But now, the weight loss has created a slower metabolic rate, so your weight bounces back up. You feel like a failure and just want to give up.

Also, diets are no fun. They are a thing to be endured but certainly not enjoyed.

Lastly, the prize of the “new skinny you” seems so distant. But that bag of chips is right there beside you. It’s hard to stay the course when the temptations are strong and the goal feels so remote. 

So, if not a diet, what do you do instead? 

Simply put, you’re going to go for healthy, not skinny. Don’t wait for the “new skinny you” that you think is years away. You can choose to become the “new healthy you” right now. The benefits start immediately. You’ll sleep better, feel better, and think better. Eventually, you’ll notice your clothes getting looser, but that’s not your focus. Your attention is on being healthy. Losing weight is just a terrific side benefit.

Also, you need to eat enough. Yes, you heard right. So many people do a starve and binge routine. They try hard all day not to eat, and then they are so hungry that they lose all self-control and eat everything in sight. Eat a healthy breakfast and a solid lunch. Push away from the table when you’re full, but eat enough so that you can enjoy a light supper without grazing all evening.

Eat only at mealtimes. It’s amazing how many calories can sneak in when you’re not really thinking about it.

Move. Walk, do yard work, clean the garage, mow the neighbor’s grass. Most people sit at work and then come home and sit some more. Get outside and get moving.

Ask for help. A dietitian can help you craft a plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Many commercial insurance plans cover dietitian consults at 100%. Or do a quick internet search for plant-based, oil-free recipes, and you’ll have a host of new ideas to try. There’s a whole community of people out there who are on the same journey and who will support your choice to be healthy.

A new way of thinking. The diet mentality sees food as the enemy. But instead, you are going to see food as fuel. The diet mentality focuses on your scale and your bad habits. But you will be focusing on your daily choices and your good habits. The diet is temporary and works toward a finish line. But you will be making changes for a lifelong journey.

So, picture the new healthy you. What would she eat? What would he do for recreation? Make a choice—with God’s help—to be that person now.

For further study, we suggest the following resources: From Plant to Plate cookbook, From Plant to Plate – Diabetes Edition, and The Ministry of Healing

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About the author

Dorothea Sarli, MS, RD, LDN, teaches nutrition at Southern Adventist University and has a nutrition counseling practice. Read her latest blog posts at