The word dieting may conjure up images of deprivation, writing down all the food you eat and following a formal plan in order to lose weight. But do you really have to do all that work to lose weight? Can you actually lose weight without a formal diet plan? Here’s the answer to that important question.
Formal Dieting Positives
Dieting doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Going on a formal diet does have its upsides, especially if it is a healthy plan such as Weight Watchers or the DASH diet. Before you decide to ditch formal dieting altogether, here are some positives to adhering to a formal diet.
- You know what to eat.
- Accountability is built in.
- It has a proven track record.
- Weight maintenance transitions may be easier.
- If you follow the diet correctly, you will likely see results.
Formal Dieting Negatives
On the other side of the coin are some of the negatives to following a prescribed diet.
- You may feel boxed in by limited food choices.
- You don’t like having just one way to measure progress (i.e., the scale).
- The diet may not allow you to eat foods you like or fit your eating philosophy.
- Once the diet is over, you are on your own.
What Does an Informal Weight Loss Plan Look Like?
An informal weight loss plan can look different for every individual. That’s the benefit of losing weight without formally dieting. However, even though you can customize your own weight loss plan and not officially diet, you still have to follow some basic weight loss principles in order to succeed.
Calories in Calories out
To lose weight you have to eat fewer calories than you need. If you don’t, you won’t lose weight. It’s just a fact.
Portion Control Can Replace Calorie Counting
You can lose weight without counting points or calories by being careful with portion sizes. That’s how I lost over 150 pounds. I never felt like I was dieting because I didn’t write down every piece of food that went in my mouth. When you sit down to a meal, serve yourself the recommended serving size based on the package or standard measure. Then your calories stay in line.
Exercise Matters a Little
Exercise is good for you whether you are losing weight or not. You don’t have to exercise to lose weight, although it is beneficial. When you do exercise, don’t overeat because you worked out. Instead, pat yourself on the back for doing something good and focus mainly on healthy eating.
Customization and Specialization
One of the pluses to losing weight without a formal diet plan is you can eat foods that are nutritious and appeal to you. You don’t ever have to buy a diet meal, shake, or diet food. Losing weight without a formal diet means you can eat high-quality foods that fit your lifestyle perfectly.
Avoiding Pitfalls When Using an Informal Diet
As appealing as losing weight without a formal diet may sound, there are definitely some pitfalls to watch out for.
First of all, make sure you have some form of accountability for your progress, whether it is standing on a scale, measuring yourself once every few weeks, or calculating your body fat percentage. If you don’t know if you are losing weight or getting smaller, how will you know if what you are doing is working?
Second, make sure you are consuming enough calories. Dieting without a plan can work, but you need to be sure you are losing weight in a healthy way. Even though you don’t have to count calories, occasionally make a list of what you are eating and make sure to get at least 1,200 calories if you are a woman and 1,800 to 2,000 calories if you are a man.
Third, don’t fool yourself. It’s one thing to say you are losing weight without a formal diet plan, and another thing to make it work. Be 100 percent honest with yourself as to whether you are actually losing weight, learning to have a healthy relationship with food, and feel in control of your weight loss efforts.