It takes 2 or 3 attempts of trying to follow different diets before you realise that changing your eating habits and achieving your health goals is not that easy.
There are many reasons for this – unrealistic expectations, lack of experience and understanding of diet and nutrition, random picking of popular diets, blindly following social media advice on healthy eating.
Here’s a some of the most common mistakes:
Too much too soon.
The most common mistake when trying to change your diet is trying to do too much too soon. It happens very often when you dramatically change your normal diet trying to lose weight and get positive health results as quickly as possible.
It is very easy to do too many changes and restrictions to your diet and underestimate the response of the body and possible side effects.
Drastic changes to your diet often lead to unpleasant body reactions and side effects – headaches, sluggishness, bloating, overactive bowels and mood swings. At this point a lot of people give up on healthy eating thinking that it is not working, that it just makes them feel worse.
Transition period from your ‘normal’ diet to healthy eating lasting 1 to 3 months will make your life a lot easier. It will help you to give up most of the addictive foods and more importantly it will allow your digestive system to adjust. And if you experience any side effects from changing to healthier foods they will be a lot milder.
Not doing enough.
This happens often when you start with some small changes in your diet and start buying foods labelled as “healthy”. There is an enormous choice of so called “healthy” ultra-processed foods – reduced sugar breakfast cereal, reduced fat yogurt with massive amounts of sugar, protein bars, reduced fat dairy products, etc.
Do not rely on the food industry and the supermarkets to tell you what is healthy for you to eat. The best choice for us is to eat whole, natural, single ingredient or minimally processed foods.
Limiting changes only to one food group or just one food is not going to help you achieve your health goal. Reducing fat or carb consumption or limiting your salt intake may have some limited positive effects but it is not enough for a long term healthy diet which will help you achieve your health goals.
Another example of not doing enough is having a diet coke instead of regular coke and some green salad leaves with burgher and chips. This is not going to help you achieve your health goal.
Whether you are doing enough changes in what you eat is determined by what you are trying to achieve, by your health goal. Eating less junk food and more fruit and veg may be enough if you want to clean up your diet. But it is definitely not enough if you want to reverse some chronic and degenerative diseases.
Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve – a health goal – will help you to make the right changes in your diet.
Giving up when you experience side effects.
During the first couple of weeks on a healthy diet everybody experiences some great positive results – increase in energy levels, weight loss, better sleep, etc.
The initial reaction of the body is amazing – it has finally got a taste of real, natural, easy to digest, nutrient rich food. Your digestive system does not have to deal any more with difficult to digest and eliminate junk food.
And just as you think: “Oh, great! I finally managed to find a diet that’s working for me” you are hit with some nasty side effects. These side effects can vary from person to person – it can be headache, dizziness, fatigue, loose bowels, mood swings, bad breath and more.
These side effects can range from quite mild to severe. It mostly depends on your previous diet and eating habits. If you’ve been eating mostly processed food and junk food the side effects can be very unpleasant.
It can be very discouraging – you are eating natural, healthy food and you feel worse than before – when you were eating junk food. This is when you start thinking that you are doing something wrong. Perhaps this healthy diet is not working or this particular diet is not for you and you need to try something different.
At this point it is important to understand that these side effects are temporary. They usually last for several days and after that you will feel great again. This is actually a very good sigh – your body has finally got enough energy to do some intense cleansing and detox.
Exotic super foods.
This is not very common but it happens when someone without much experience goes for a complete overhaul of the diet after reading a couple of books on nutrition.
For a lot people on a ‘normal’ diet the body is used to getting all the energy and nutrients from breakfast cereals, burgers, chips, pizzas and coke.
When this ‘normal’ diet is drastically changed to tofu, chia seeds, almond milk, buckwheat, quinoa, and other exotic foods it is going to be a real shock for the system with unpredictable results and body reactions.
Any changes to your diet should be gradual – introduce one or two new foods at a time. After two or three weeks when your gut metabolism has adjusted you can add another new food.
Exotic super foods will not necessarily make your diet much healthier. For most people it is better to stick with the whole, natural local foods their bodies are used to.
It easy to start diet hopping if you expect quick and results and if you are easily influenced by social media.
Your start with calorie counting and a couple of weeks later after reading an article in a magazine move on to low carb high protein. And after some time on low carb diet move on to time-restricted eating.
This is probably the most damaging mistake of dieting. Any dramatic changes in what you eat are not good for the body, your gut flora or your metabolism. The reaction of your body to frequent drastic changes in your diet will be unpredictable with very unpleasant side effects.
There are countless nutritional tips on the Internet and there is a miracle food for any health condition. Here are some examples:
You should eat more oily fish – it is a good source of vitamin B.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Eat an avocado every day for and see what happens.
Garlic can save your life.
When you follow these dietary tips without changing anything else you just add another food for you already overloaded digestive system to deal with.
It is important to clean up your diet from addictive junk foods which distort the internal mechanism for regulating food intake – hunger and appetite. When you eat natural, whole foods it is a lot easier to listen to the cues and signals from your body and understand what food it really needs.