Restrictive diets often don’t work. Dietary plans that require a person to cut out entire groups of food (we’re not talking about if you have celiac or severe allergies to certain items) or require someone to count calories and severely restrict often backfire. Or, in some extreme cases, they can cause more dietary issues and illness down the line.

There are more healthy and realistic approaches to losing weight and being more healthy, with attainable goals that don’t cut out nutrition and those enjoyable foods that you can have in moderation.

Of course, some folks need to restrict foods because they have an intolerance for them, such as dairy or foods that cause bloating. Always do what you need to do in order to be healthy and feel good, but speak to your doctor before restricting anything too severely. There may be medications you can take to help ease your digestive system or underlying causes for the intolerance that should be addressed.

As far as weight loss goes, though, forget those risky and often unrealistic diet plans and go the natural route. Work to eat healthier foods like lean meats, leafy greens, fresh fruit, and snack on things like nuts and dark chocolate. You should still enjoy your favorite snacks and desserts in moderation, because if you don’t, you might not be able to stick with the plan. Do moderate exercise in conjunction with your new, healthy diet, stay active, and drink lots and lots (and lots more) water. The average American is low-level dehydrated, and water not only helps you lose weight, but if you’re properly hydrated, you’ll have more energy.

Cleaning-up-your-diet

There are lots of great resources both online and in book form with adapted recipes of restaurant dishes, “junk” food, and pretty much any favorite meal you can think of, re-worked with healthy substitutions and variations. Some of these recipes are seriously great. If you’re adjusting to new life as gluten free, or vegan, or low sugar or no-dairy – whatever the dietary restriction, you can find amazing and creative substitutions all over the place. Plus, it can be seriously fun to play around in the kitchen and find ways to adapt your recipes. One that is incredibly fun (and seriously yummy, even if you do eat dairy) is making your own non-dairy cheese, with a mixture of cashews and a few other awesome ingredients.

The more effort, love and care you put into your meal planning and cooking, the more healthy your food intake will be. It’s something that just happens naturally. You’ll see yourself losing weight and getting more healthy by the day, without giving money, time and effort to those dodgy and unattainable diets that are more about starvation than they are about health. See for yourself – losing weight, staying fit and active, and changing up your diet for the better doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be easy, fun and absolutely delicious with just a little bit of effort.