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Are we done dieting?

It might make more sense to watch what and why we eat instead of merely how much.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 11, 2010 18:58 IST

Many of us want to lose weight, and many more probably should. But in recent months I’ve seen a subtle shift in the diet-guidance market: Instead of prescribing eating regimens, many weight-loss experts are suggesting that we re-evaluate our relationship with food, focus on eating healthy, whole foods and use psychology to aid our efforts to shed extra kilos.

No diet approach
We can now choose resources that offer a holistic and more realistic approach than the standard diet guide. Rather than dictate consumption of specific foods (and avoidance of others), non-diet approaches encourage us to seek a healthy balance of nutrients in our meals.

They urge us to pay close attention to food as we eat it so we feel fully satisfied with a modest amount, and they press us to monitor portion sizes more than calorie counts. These habits may sustain us in our weight control better than the latest fad diet will.

Dieting for weight loss is a relatively recent phenomenon. Until a few decades ago, a bit of pudge was viewed as a sign of well being. The term “diet” has come to mean a means of making ourselves skinny only recently.

Why diets haven’t worked
But if diets have increased in popularity since the late 1800s, well, they haven’t worked. Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says she encourages people to take what she calls a “more introspective approach” to weight loss that takes into account the outside influences that contribute to eating habits.

“Dieting is very often like a magnet attached to the word ‘deprivation,’ “ Taub-Dix says. “When you’re on a diet, you feel deprived, outcast, and you can’t wait for it to end.”

“I’m glad fad diets come and go,” she says. “Most are unhealthy, anyway,” in that they tend to “emphasise one food group over another” rather than promoting a balanced mix. Such schemes, she says, are “doomed to fail. They only work on a temporary basis.”

Source: Washington Post-Bloomberg