Dieting vs. Lifestyle Changes

By -Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.

A diet consists of temporarily changing your eating habits to promote a certain outcome commonly weight loss before returning to your previous eating habits. On the other hand, a lifestyle change consists of adopting healthy overall habits that promote long-term weight control and health. In addition, diets focus on food intake, while lifestyle changes incorporate what you eat along with other factors that affect weight and health, such as physical activity. Where weight loss is concerned, a diet provides a temporary solution and singular approach to a multifaceted, long-term health issue. (1)


  • Weight is generally lost quickly in a set period of time
  • Foods are categorized as “good” or “bad”
  • Eating habits are often based on environmental cues
  • Calorie consumption is greatly restricted
  • Progress is dependent on a number on the scale

Lifestyle Change

  • Eating healthy, nutritious and whole foods to nourish your body
  • Practicing moderation, not restriction
  • Exercising on a regular and consistent basis
  • Relying on your body to tell you what you need
  • Losing weight at a safe and healthy pace (2)

If the diet you are considering going on includes reasonable ranges of daily caloric intake, carbohydrates, protein and fat, then one can successfully lose weight and maintain it.

Another way to approach weight loss is through making changes to one’s lifestyle overall. A lifestyle includes what you eat, how you manage stress, how much you exercise and more. Lifestyle changes require you to maintain a certain level of dieting and restricting say how much fast food and junk food you eat, etc. It is very important to remember that moderation is the key to maintain a healthy lifestyle without depraving yourself of things you want to have every once in a while. (3)

A diet program user may not bring a change in the overall lifestyle as dieting is concentrated towards eating habits, its schedule, and composition.

However, a change in lifestyle has a wider impact on the follower’s life. Lifestyle change is permanent by nature and hence its results are successful. (4)

Most diets, regardless of their particular nature, result in short-term weight loss that is not sustainable. Weight cycling or recurrent weight loss through dieting and subsequent weight gain can be harmful for mental and physical health for both healthy weight and overweight individuals. Furthermore, weight fluctuations have been related to increased risk of development of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. (5)

Lifestyle modification involves altering long-term habits, typically of eating or physical activity, and maintaining the new behaviour for months or years. Lifestyle modification can be used to treat a range of diseases, including obesity. (6)

  • A balanced diet and gradually becoming more physically active as part of any obesity treatment plan. These lifestyle modifications can also help prevent obesity if you are overweight or otherwise at risk.
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can also help manage or reverse some of the serious conditions associated with obesity, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes.(7)
  • To maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need to keep eating healthy. Add more fruits and vegetables in your diet and eat less carbohydrates, high sodium and unhealthy fat. Avoid eating junk food and sweets.
  • Surround yourself with positive energy: In order to have a sound mental and emotional state, you must surround yourself with positive energy. Yes, not all problems can be avoided. Surround yourself with encouraging friends and people that will provide you with constructive criticism every once in a while to help you improve.

Physical fitness is not the sole basis of being healthy; being healthy means being mentally and emotionally fit. Being healthy should be part of your overall lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent chronic diseases and long-term illnesses. Feeling good about yourself and taking care of your health are important for your self-esteem and self-image. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by doing what is right for your body. (8)



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