Live Well, Do Good

Diets Don’t Work . . . Seven Things To Do Instead

November 18, 2012 - David McConkey

So, diets don't work, but what can we do instead?

If our goal is to lose weight, we are almost certainly doomed to fail. But if our goal is to live more healthily and happily, we might just get onto the right path.

If we ignore much of the advertising and at least some of the health advice around us, we can discover ways to eat well, and to live well.

(For more on the background, go to Part One:  The Issue)    

Seven Things To Do:

1.  Put positive practices – eating more healthy foods and getting more exercise – into a long-term, sustainable context. Don’t think about losing weight. In fact, throw out your scale and try to forget about weight altogether.
2.  Embrace the body you have. Incorporate the idea of “health at every size” – being as healthy as you are able to be, in your own body.

3.  Follow sensible ideas about eating and food. Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food) has a great seven-word prescription: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Check out Healthy Eating – 15 Tips.
4.  Recognize the value of real foods. The foods with no labels. The foods found around the periphery of supermarkets. And found also in venues like farmers’ markets or through a CSA, which is community-supported (or shared) agriculture. 

5.  Appreciate the notion of “adding” rather than “reducing.” In other words, look at adding healthy foods to your menu instead of restricting and denying certain foods, as in dieting. And, when adding, think nutritious, delicious, intriguing, satisfying.

6.  Consider not just what you eat; but also how, and where, you eat. For example, rather than simply rushing, consider mindful eating and more leisurely, enjoyable eating. Check out Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, a follow-up handbook to In Defense of Food.

7.  Explore eating in a more globally conscious way. One aspect is less meat: for our own health and because raising livestock for food usually uses more resources than growing plants for food. (A bonus: this way of eating is usually more economical.) Check out Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman. The book includes 75 recipes; he has also written a companion cookbook with 500 recipes.      

* * * 

See also:

Diets Don't Work, Part One:  The Issue

Healthy Eating – 15 Tips 

Mark Bittman on   (on

Michael Pollan on   (on 

Health at Every Size on   (on

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