The Difference Between A Diet and A Meal Plan

Learn the difference between a diet and a meal plan, and how to choose the right approach to achieve your health and fitness goals.
Difference between diet and meal plan

Have you ever tried a diet and failed? You stick with it for a few weeks. But ultimately, you end up succumbing to your cravings. You get tired of restricting or limiting what you can and can’t eat. It never seems to work.

The truth? Most diets don’t work. When it comes down to it, focusing on a healthy lifestyle is a much better option to achieve your goals and more. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at why this is the case and how you can develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.

Why Most Diets Don’t Work

Diets often help individuals lose weight quickly. But if healthy patterns and habits aren’t established, the weight usually creeps back and then some. In fact, research shows that by following a diet, 80% of individuals gain back the weight lost within 2-5 years.

So, why does this happen? Many diets frequently focus on a set type or amount of food you can consume. You may only be allowed to eat shakes for weeks on end. Or perhaps you’re restricted to a certain caloric amount or point system. In other words, they aren’t particularly set on changing your behaviors. It’s normally a temporary mindset shift. For example, you may think you’ll only need to drink those shakes for 6 weeks, then you’re fine to eat what you please and go back to eating whatever you like – without any lifestyle change.

The problem comes down to the lack of habit or behavioral change, which is so important when adopting a healthy lifestyle. There should further be an emphasis on eating the right nutrients that your body needs, as opposed to only losing weight. This means having your own individualized meal plan including what foods work best for you and your body – and make you feel good. When focusing on health, weight will frequently follow suit. But let’s take a closer look at the habit cycle. How can you change yours?

The Habit Cycle

Bad habits are hard to break. And if you don’t understand how habits continue to remain habits, you may struggle to rid yourself of your bad habits once and for all.

The four stages of a habit involve a cue, craving, response, and reward. For instance, a cue might be that you feel lonely or sad. The craving is that you need something to feel better. You respond by reaching for comfort food, such as chips or chocolate. It serves as a reward and you feel better.

To break these habits, you have to remove part of the cycle. For example, you could make a conscious decision to no longer bring junk food into your home. You don’t buy it and the temptation is removed. You could also replace these cravings or responses with something else. Next time you feel sad, go to the gym instead. It’ll release endorphins making you feel better. Or you could dig up a healthy recipe and make a new and healthy meal for yourself. Find something that works for you.

And give yourself some time! Don’t guilt-trip yourself if you mess up. Experts claim that it takes over 21 days to break a habit. Be patient.

Educate Yourself

It’s difficult to reprogram your way of thinking. Habits and your nutritional foundation are formed from an early age. Again, it will take time to flip the switch.

However, educating yourself on nutrients and what truly is healthy and what isn’t is a great place to start. Lay that foundation. Learn about what your body truly needs. And listen to your body as you make those necessary changes.

If you have a family, teach your kids from an early age what’s healthy and what’s not. It’ll make it easier for them as they grow up to make healthier decisions as adults.

Movement is also an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. It shouldn’t be ignored. With so much research indicating its importance in preventing disease and improving health, it’s critical for you to lead your best life.

Want to learn more about nutrition? Contact Athlete’s Choice Massage today. Find out how our nutrition coach can help you discover a whole new approach to eating. It’s easier than you think!

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A diet is a long-term approach to eating that focuses on overall nutrition and health goals, while a meal plan is a short-term approach that provides specific guidelines for what to eat and when.

Yes, a meal plan can be a useful tool for achieving specific health or fitness goals. However, it should be part of an overall healthy diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods.

No, it is not necessary to follow a strict diet or meal plan to be healthy. A balanced and varied diet that includes whole foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables can be just as effective.

Yes, a diet or meal plan can be personalized to individual needs and preferences. Working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can help to develop a plan that meets individual health goals and fits with personal lifestyle and preferences.