I’ve thought a lot about the word “diet” over the years.

I think every female has had some struggle with food, diet, and self-image. I was no exception. I was very aware of my eating habits and body size from an early age.

When we found out we were pregnant and having a daughter, we banished the word “diet” from our vocabulary. I hated that word and everything it stood for.

Looking back, I see that was naive at best. One word wouldn’t completely impact her beliefs or change the way she eats. But dieting was such a massive part of American culture, I’d have done anything to stop food issues at an early age.

Instead, the entire concept of food, diet, and nutrition entered my life in another way. When she declared herself vegetarian at the age of three, it wasn’t weight loss and dieting I was afraid of. It was how to feed her and ensure she received the protein she needed. Thus, my learning curve took on an entirely new direction.

I’ve learned a lot about food over the years. My dad dying at fifty-four of a massive heart attack, followed by raising a vegetarian daughter has shed new light on our food system. Especially our obsession with losing weight.

The Biggest Loser was a phenomenal success, bringing a popular television program and weight loss products to the marketplace. Yet studies show that even though a lot of people resonated with the concept, in reality, it wasn’t sustainable. When they looked back at 14 winners of the show, 13 had gained back a significant portion of their weight.

Why don’t diets work? I believe it’s because:

Most diets are simply not sustainable

But I believe there’s an underlying reason behind that as well. It’s also because:

It’s our food supply

The food system has changed tenfold over the past one-hundred years. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

What really happened on The Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser was made for TV. And in order to create a sellable concept, executives didn’t care about long term effects. They wanted a problem solved in a season, or about five months. And while you can push a body to its limits in that time frame and shed considerable amounts of weight, it isn’t sustainable in the long term.

Places like the Mayo Clinic state one to two pounds per week should be your goal. They also state it’s not just a change in your food and exercise that matters most. It’s also about lifestyle changes and mindset.

The CDC agrees with the one to two pounds. And they also agree you need support. If you don’t have the right mindset in place, and a support system to help you out occasionally, you’re likely to not make it through the bumps and hurdles that will come your way.

What the Biggest Loser did right was to start each contestant out on big changes to their food intake and exercise plan. The error, of course, is they were there offering hours of support, not necessarily on the right things. When it was back to “life as normal,” their advice was impossible to maintain.

It’s about good nutrition

Let me give you something to compare it to. Let’s talk about how you treat your automobile for a second.

As a car owner, you know you can get 300 to 400 miles on a tank of gas. As the needle moves towards E, you fit a visit to the gas station somewhere in your daily to-do list.

Would you ever take a bucket of water and fill up your tank? Of course not. Even if you’re not entirely sure how a car works, there’s some part of you that realizes water in a gas tank is not a good idea. If it’s pushed into the system, and is sucked up into the engine, at best it will corrode pipes and hoses with rust, which will make your car difficult, if not impossible to start.

The same applies to motor oil. Some part of you knows to pull into your local mechanic on a regular basis. To let them change out the oil and replace it with something new and fresh.

Why does it matter? Because without new oil, it can deplete from the system. It can get dirty, sludgy, and start impacting the various systems. It can allow the engine to get too hot, and seize altogether.

We get that because if we don’t, our cars will die pretty quickly. And then it’ll be a whole lot of money making it drivable once again.

The human body can take a lot more abuse. You can feed it bad food that impacts your “pipes and hoses” for years before it starts breaking down.

And just like your car, it’s a lot more time-consuming and expensive to bring YOU back to good health.

Because of my dad, my daughter, and all of my research, I learned that early on and made significant life changes.

Start with thinking

There are two types of questions when it comes to maintaining health and weight. You can ask from a positive mindset, or a negative one. Guess which ones will get more results?

Don’t start with questions like: I want to lose ten pounds. They don’t get to the root of what’s really going on.

Because focusing on ten pounds allows you to look for quick fixes. That’s when the grapefruit diet, or keto diet, or any other “diet” with big promises jumps out. They promise you quick weight loss, but if you do your research, without sustaining results.

Change your thinking, change your question. And that can lead to healthier living.

I prefer to ask:

  • Can I sustain this way of eating for life?
  • Is this way of eating good for me for the long term?
  • How can I be the healthiest ME I can be?

There’s no emphasis on diet or weight. It’s completely on results. It’s on good health at every age of my life.

That is sustainable.

Why plant-based eating is for me

Chances are, right now, you know what to eat. You know what’s right to fuel a body, and what will help you stave away disease.

Broccoli is good. Candy is bad.

Of course, there are a lot of other nuances to it, but in general, we get the basics.

The problem is: large companies have made us addicted to the bad stuff. And when you crave food, you can’t help but eat it.

One report says up to 20 percent of people may be addicted to certain types of food, with higher percentages in people with obesity. The most addictive are:

  • Pizza
  • Chocolate
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Ice cream
  • French fries
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Soda
  • Cake
  • Cheese

Notice a common thread in these? It’s “sugar, salt, fat”, all of which are so highly addictive. There’s even a book about it. Sugar, Salt, Fat by Michael Moss flushes out the fact that companies often know exactly how addictive their products are. Yet for the sake of the “bottom line,” they choose to look the other way.

I highly suggest reading the book.

Let’s look at everything in common from the above list – all of them are in some fashion human-made. Corporation made.

You won’t find pizza or chips or french fries growing on a tree. You can’t pick cake from a vine, or find cheese buried underground.

Which means all of them are cooked up in a kitchen using a variety of ingredients. And in all cases, they use the “sugar, salt, fat” to make it taste even better.

When your tastebuds become addicted, they crave those foods. You simply can’t get enough.

I’ll also tell you the opposite is true.

I haven’t had red meat in almost three decades. If I make a dessert, it’s with vegan ingredients. That means with more natural ingredients, such as dates or applesauce instead. (I talk about them on Instagram and Pinterest. You do follow me, don’t you?)

If I eat anything processed today, food that by all accounts are considered the mainstay, two things happen.

First, I can’t eat much because it’s too salty, sweet, or overwhelming.

Second, my body can’t handle it. I quite literally get sick as my body tries to process it.

For those reasons, I’ve cracked my addiction. You can put a bag of candy on my desk, or a cheeseburger on my table, and I’ll never eat it. Ever.

Slip-ups happen from time to time. And I’ll be honest, cheese is difficult to weed out. If you’re eating at restaurants, it’s the most difficult to have pulled off of the menu.

Does this take a while? Of course. It takes time to get rid of any addition. But the more you try, the better you feel, the better the food you are eating will taste.

What questions do you have about plant based eating?