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Do diets even work? 10 tips to stop dieting and start eating healthy

Jessica Sepel
Jessica Sepel sits in a park and smiles up at the sky with her eyes shut

Jess Sepel shares how to overcome fad diets and find balance

Jessica Sepel sits in a park and smiles up at the sky with her eyes shut

Diets are an inescapable part of our culture – most of us have been on one at some point in our lives. From the food in supermarket aisles to TV commercials and social media, it’s hard not to be tempted by the latest diet food or trend that promises the body of your dreams.

We get so many mixed messages, that it’s no surprise we can struggle to find a balanced, healthy weight.

I’ve had both personal and clinical experience with diets so I can promise you that they just don’t work. And the research backs it up, showing that dieters almost always regain most of their lost weight within a few years.

Worse still, diets can strain our relationship with food and our bodies, causing us to focus on weight, not health. They encourage us to count calories, restrict our food intake and control our cravings which can often lead to disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food. Not only that, but diets also tend to instil a certain ‘fear’ around different food groups and this does not support a healthy relationship with your body.

At JSHealth, our philosophy is to help people give up fad dieting and find balance with food. We believe in eating fresh wholefoods and fuelling the body with the nutrients it needs to thrive. In fact, I designed the JSHealth 8-week Program to combat the toxic cycle of restriction and overeating.

A woman laughs as she takes a bite of cake

Here are some of the tools I use in my nutrition practice to help you overcome the fad diets and find balance with your food intake and weight.

1. Block out the noise of the diet culture

Remember you are biochemically unique and what works for your friends, family or co-workers may not suit your body type. We have to tune into our own bodies and figure out which foods work for us individually.

2. Let go of numbers

This means no counting calories, carbs or fats. Instead, focus on nutrients and eating good-quality wholefoods. Our bodies know how to digest these foods, so give up processed and packaged foods.

3. Re-adjust your mindset around health

We have to see it is a long-term journey, not a quick phase or fad. You don’t have to do it all at once; commit to making one or two small changes each week.

4. Avoid reading diet books and Googling diet trends

They just lead to confusion around your health and you’ll end up overwhelmed and demotivated.

5. Consider who you’re following

Unfollow people on social media who are promoting extremes around food or fitness, because it can set unrealistic expectations and make it harder to embrace a balanced approach.

6. Eat all of the important food groups

This means low GI carbs, protein, good fats and fibre at every meal; they’re all equally important for our bodies. For some healthy food inspo, check out the range of exclusive recipes I’ve created for nib on The Check Up.

7. Don’t skip meals

You’ll only overeat on food later on in the day.

8. Don’t deprive yourself

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be bland or boring. You can literally have your cake and eat it too. If you have a sweet tooth, try these healthy choc-peanut butter cookies; if you prefer savoury, give this cheesy zucchini bake a try.

9. Start making healthy swaps

If you are struggling with your weight, try swapping out white bread and pasta for a wholegrain alternative. Replace chocolate with dark chocolate or one of my wholesome treats.

10. Focus on healing your relationship with your body

Some easy ways to reconnect to your body include yoga, walking, reading a book or spending time alone. Aim to schedule in 30 minutes of ‘you time’ each day or each week. Reconnecting to your body will help you to want to make healthier choices.

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Jessica Sepel smiling in front of vases of greenery

Jessica Sepel

Founder of JSHealth, author of two best-selling books and accredited nutritionist, Jessica Sepel is passionate about taking a balanced approach when it comes to food. Jess believes we need to give up diets to overhaul our relationship with food and advocates for moderation, mindfulness at meals and healthy body image.

Check out more articles by Jess, including the delicious and healthy recipes she’s created exclusively for nib.