The flexible dieting lifestyle could be a liberating approach to weight loss

The flexible dieting lifestyle could be a liberating approach to weight loss

The flexible diet isn’t really a diet. It’s about meeting your nutritional needs on a daily basis while giving you the flexibility to choose your favorite foods from the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. For those who find traditional dieting restrictive and completely ineffective, flexible dieting can be just the tipping point.

What is flexible dieting?

According to a registered dietitian Catherine Gervacio from the E-Health Project, the diet provides a range of options. “There is no specific diet plan with this approach. This is because it is more focused on monitoring and managing calories and macronutrients by choosing the type and amount of food that is appropriate to meet the requirements,” said Gervacio.

Although flexible, the diet can have a significant impact on the body if the dieter is careful to meet their macronutrient goals on a daily basis.

According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), for my height and weight, I need two cups of fruit a day or 1/2 cup of dried fruit. I could choose any type of whole fruit as part of a flexible diet. I need 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, of which, again, I can choose any kind. In the grain group, I can have a slice of bread or a 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal, 5 1/2 ounces of protein, and 3 cups of dairy, which includes milk, yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces of hard cheese.

“In the long term, a flexible diet lifestyle can potentially provide the necessary nutrients to achieve a health and fitness goal,” said Gervacio. “It helps a person make informed choices from experience and be able to understand what food and how much food to get in a day.”

Read more: Which factors are most important for weight loss?

Why Flexible Dieting Works

Recently research has shown that when looking at restrictive traditional diets versus flexible dieting, flexible dieting is consistent with long-term outcomes.

“Those who followed a flexible diet had more success losing weight and being able to keep it off,” he says. Lina Begdache, associate professor in the Department of Health and Wellness Studies at Binghamton University. She says the rigid diet wasn’t that successful and was accompanied by a lot of anxiety and a pattern of stress.

Flexibility makes people feel like they have options rather than something being taken away from them. For example, in the protein category, if you don’t like to eat meat, you can choose from plant-based varieties like tofu, edamame, peanut butter, or tempeh. And if you are not a fan of milk in the dairy category, you can choose yogurt or cubed hard cheese. If you don’t like apples, you can opt for bananas or a handful of dried cranberries. The options are endless as long as you stay within the recommended portion size.

Plus, you don’t end up hungry because you’re eating enough fiber and protein, both of which help keep you fuller longer, says Begdache.

Read more: 4 scientific diets to improve your health

The effect of flexible dieting on the brain

Part of the impact of flexible dieting comes from how it affects the brain. Dieting can have unpleasant consequences for us because, from an evolutionary point of view, the body does not want to lose weight. If you tell yourself not to eat, your brain will constantly think about food. But if you eat healthy, go with the flow, and only eat when you’re hungry, you won’t think about it as much, says Begdache.

“Your brain is always making sure enough food is consumed to avoid going into starvation mode,” says Begdache. “That’s probably it because restrictive diets are associated with more anxiety and anxious behaviorand they’re not that successful.”

Once the body enters starvation mode, its metabolism slows down, increasing its craving for food. “This can cause overeating because cravings can be due to nutrient deficiencies,” says Begdache.

Flexible dieting works because you eat when you’re hungry. While it’s important to make good nutritional choices, like choosing whole fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, there’s less emphasis on counting calories and obsessing over your next meal.

It’s the way we should be eating all along because, in the end, your brain controls whether or not you’ll be successful in achieving your weight loss and health goals. If you want to keep the scales in alignment, you need to keep your brain happy.

Read more: Healing on a plate: How your diet can benefit your mental health

Article sources

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