Since 2019, the weight loss industry in America is now worth a record $72 billion. However, the total number of dieters has steadily decreased. While meal replacements are still booming, over the counter diet pills have been losing revenue year over year. While this does represent a significant shift in the mindset of dieters, it doesn’t address one of the primary issues associated with fad diets: longevity. As an award-winning Bariatric Medicine Physician, Dr. Jan McBarron understands that sustained weight loss requires a change in lifestyle. To explain the long-term benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle versus trying yet another short-lived diet, Dr. Jan McBarron breaks down everything you need to know.

What Is a ‘Diet’?

What is considered a ‘diet’? Dr. Jan McBarron defines it is a temporary change in your eating habits to promote a certain outcome—often weight loss—before returning to your previous eating habits. While diets focus solely on food intake, a change in lifestyle considers a person’s holistic health, including exercise, sleep, and other factors. While everyone wants a ‘magic pill’ that can keep weight off—allowing you to eat whatever you want—Dr. Jan McBarron explains that it doesn’t work that way: “Almost seventy percent of people who diet will regain the weight they lost by dieting all while putting immense strain on their body.” Research suggests that rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain and depriving your body of essential nutrients.

Diets Offer Unsustainable Solutions

Most diets offer unsustainable solutions for quick weight loss, and the food you have to eat on them often leaves much to be desired. From the water, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and maple syrup cleanse to the low-calorie salad diet, you’re not going to stick with it if you hate it—and are hungry all the time! Dr. Jan McBarron explains that a sustainable diet is one that you enjoy, one that allows you a bit of flexibility to enjoy the foods you love. One of the best ways to implement a lasting change in your diet is to make it fun by experimenting with new, healthy recipes. To try and increase the number of whole, plant-based foods in your diet, Dr. Jan McBarron suggests adding spices, sauces, and dressings to your meals to keep them exciting. Try using tahini, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and other ‘condiments’ to keep things interesting.

Once you’ve found healthy options that you love, Dr. Jan McBarron suggests meal prepping at the beginning or end of the week. If you make it easy for yourself in the future, you remove any possibility of making an excuse in the moment when you’re feeling lazy and unmotivated. Meal prepping sets you up for success in the long-term.

Incorporate Healthy Food Habits with Lifestyle Changes

In addition to changing what you eat, Dr. Jan McBarron suggests finding a form of physical exercise that you enjoy. She explains that it doesn’t need to be intensive or take more than 30 minutes a day to be effective: “Something as simple as a daily walk can drastically improve your body’s resilience, from energy, to mood, and weight loss.” To keep the momentum going, Dr. Jan McBarron suggests doing one physical thing a day. Even on days off, consider doing a short stretch or yoga video—it doesn’t matter what it is, just get moving.

Find What Works for You

Lastly, Dr. Jan McBarron suggests trying new things until you find something that works for you. Just like any skillset, it will take time and patience to achieve desirable results. Try new recipes, exercises, and routines until you find one that works for you. The key to maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle is enjoying the process.