Dietary education
Written by Rachel

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People tend to think of the word 'diet' in terms of losing weight. This is not accurate
. Your diet is what you eat. And drink.

Who taught you what to eat?

This  is a reasonable question, and most people could not give a decent answer. Often people acquire eating habits from their parents. They may even learn about diet in school.
Usually people just eat what they feel like eating.


When most people think of the word 'diet', their interest is fat loss. The amount of body fat you are carrying around is an important concern.
Let's imagine that a person is carrying an unnecessary stone of fat...
If you put a 1 stone rucksack on your back, how much would this inhibit your ability to move? How much stress would be placed on your knees/your back? Would it be easy to bend and squat?
What if the rucksack contained 2 stones?


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Reality check

Let's say that you're 5 feet 10 inches tall and 13 stone 8 pounds in weight... This is a weight you've grown accustomed to and it may not seem so heavy relative to many people around you.
Try putting your height and weight into the NHS BMI calculator. You're overweight.
Now try inputting different weights until you reach exactly halfway in the healthy range... It will be around 10 stone 8 pounds. The conclusion - you're 3 stone overweight.
We get used to being a certain weight and even though BMI isn't perfect, it is a useful guide. Unless you're a body builder (or very short) it's worth using.

Psychological barriers

The biggest real impediment to losing fat is psychological. People want to keep on eating the things they like eating and yet shed the fat. This is a fantasy. A delusion.
Shedding the fat also means shedding the food that made you fat in the first place.


Consider diet in terms of debt... If you're in debt, there are 2 steps to keep in mind:

  1. Pay off the debt

  2. Manage your daily/weekly/monthly budget effectively

Step 1 is obvious. Step 2 is just as important. If you manage to pay off your debt but don't change your spending/lifestyle habits, then you'll soon be back in debt once again.

Fat again

People lose fat by following a low carb diet or a calorie controlled diet. Then they put the fat back on again. How come? They have only done step 1.
Step 2 is just as important. If you manage to lose the fat but don't change your eating/lifestyle habits, then you'll soon be fat once again.
Also, a low carb diet is unhealthy. The initial loss is water. This type of diet causes the body to shed water and potassium; the outcome being significant on-going dehydration. Which isn't good...

Step 1

Losing fat is necessary. There is absolutely no upside to carrying around unwanted/unused fat reserves. Excess fat can lead to cancer, joint problems, heart attack. You name it.
There are many different approaches/programs for shedding the fat. Do some research. Find one that sounds viable for you.


The bad news here is that getting fat is easy. But losing fat is not. Expect a tough time of it. It will not be easy at all and the results may not be as quick as you expect.
You may well feel ill at first, have headaches, disrupted sleep, mood swings. Endure this. You can do it. Have faith in yourself. This will pass quite quickly...

Strong mental attitude

During the fat loss stage you must commit time to addressing your thoughts. Your perspective, attitude, resolve, commitment and hopes will shape the outcome.
e.g. If you feel light headed, don't reach for the biscuits. Instead, recognise that this may well indicate that your body is undergoing change. Maybe you're shedding fat.
You cannot reasonably expect fat loss to be straightforward, fast and permanent. It takes work.


Fat loss will not involve familiar physical sensations and experiences. You may feel out of sorts. That is good. Habits feel familiar. Change does not.

False notions

If you are carrying 2 stone of unwanted fat around every day, there is no point in speculating how it is going to feel to have shed that fat.
You cannot anticipate what the lighter, low fat you is going to be thinking or what their priority/goals/plans will be.
For starters, you are not in that place yet. Right now, you have 2 stone of fat to lose. Focus on that.

Step 2

Having lost the excess fat, do not resume your old eating patterns. This is the most important thing to remember.
If you eat the food that got you fat in the first place, you will get fat once again. It is inevitable.
Instead, figure out how much you need to eat in order to maintain your ideal body fat ratio whilst eating a balanced, nutritious, sustainable, healthy diet.

Base line

Most people skip step 2. Don't. It will take some work to figure out your dietary requirements. You will need to monitor, experiment and make mistakes. This is fine. Just avoid being blasé or complacent.
Once you have determined approximately how much you can and cannot eat, you need to see what happens over time. If you put on unwanted fat, adjust, return to step 1 if necessary.

Crash dieting

Some calorie calculators will suggest an 'extreme fat loss' calorific value which is exceedingly low. This should be avoided.
Typically a 500 calorie daily deficit is adequate. If the calorie drop is too extreme, your metabolism will slow down, your sleep may be affected and any fat loss will be short lived.

Toxic habits

If you are wanting to shed fat but still want to drink alcohol or smoke, what's the point? Toxic habits will wreck your body just as much as excess fat will.
There's no point losing fat if you're still drinking a glass of wine every night.


Sugar creates a yo-yo effect on your blood stream. You go through highs and lows continuously. This is mistaken for hunger.
Only by cutting out sugar (and any food that might remotely have sugar in it) can you stabilise your body and find equilibrium.
Once you have operated without sugar for a few days you will discover that you are no longer as hungry as you once were and that you do not need to eat as much food.

Mental representation

One of the key tools for successful fat loss and on-going healthy eating/lifestyle habits is to cultivate a good mental representation of what 'diet' constitutes.
Don't think of diet as just being fat loss or weight loss... Instead recognise that diet is about what you eat. After all, short-term loss of fat is pointless if you just put it all back on again.
Think about food differently. Food is about obtaining the necessary chemical constituents for good health and optimal functionality.

Beyond food

Food alone is not enough. Unless your lifestyle is healthy, eating well will only produce a partial result.
Being slim is fine, but if your body is stiff, inflexible and tense, or your emotions are unhealthy and you are feeling stressed out, there's still a lot of work to do. Find balance in all aspects of your life.

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Page created 21 May 2008
Last updated 06 October 2023