The Four Elements – Water

The Diet That’s Not a Diet Is the Best Diet

January has arrived and thus, so has the annual ratings of “The Best Diets” by U.S. News & World Report, guided by a distinguished panel of experts. However, here’s the thing. There is not just one best diet. In fact, the top two “diets” on this list – the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet – are not really diets at all. Not by the typical January definition of a diet. That’s all about short-term weight loss. It’s easy, but usually unsustainable.

Rather, these “best diets” are patterns for lifelong healthy eating. That’s the February through December definition of a diet – the food you habitually eat to maintain health and happiness.

As long as we’re on the subject of lifelong patterns, let’s go to the original Greek roots of this confusing word. Diaita is a way of life. And if you want a lifelong pattern for healthy living, you’ll need to consider five things.

1. Build Activity into Your Day

First and foremost, most of us need more routine movement in our day. Spending thirty minutes at the gym is great, but it doesn’t cancel out the harms of eight hours glued to your seat and your screen. Blend movement into your daily routine. Do more walking to get where you’re going. It gives you time to think. It keeps every part of your body working better.

2. Find a Healthy Pattern for Eating

January diets are fine. But a lifelong pattern for healthy eating will make a bigger difference. The top choice on the U.S. News best diets list – the Mediterranean diet – is a good option. But the best option is the one you can live with happily year round. If you’re not sure, consult a registered dietitian. Someone with an RD or RDN credential. A good dietitian can help you find a pattern that really works for you and your long-term health.

3. Get Your Sleep

Some people kid themselves into thinking they don’t need a full eight hours of sleep. The truth, however, is that getting those eight hours every night can be one of the simplest ways to improve your life and your health.

4. Work with Health Providers Who Work with You

No matter how healthy our habits might be, we are mortal. Some feel it sooner than others. So to maximize your health, you need a health provider who will work with you to solve problems with you – not for you. That means it’s someone who can talk to you about challenging and sensitive problems. Someone who can talk with you about the big picture of your health and all that’s affecting it. Don’t settle for less.

5. Set a Positive Agenda for Life

Engage your heart and mind with people and purposes you love. A positive outlook can make a big difference in health outcomes. It’s a pattern for life that can make life worth living. And it’s a pattern that each of us can foster.

The Four Elements – Water, Painting by Joachim Beuckelaer / Wikimedia Commons

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January 3, 2019