“No thanks, I’m on a diet.”

If you’re the average American, especially female, you’ve likely uttered those words at some point in your life.

But what’s the appeal of dieting anyway? Is it the promise of quick results, the allure of dropping weight, because everyone else is doing it, or could there be another reason?

Have you ever considered the marketing dollars behind dieting?

The weight loss industry racks nearly $67 billion a year

That’s according to Time magazine. Keep that in mind when you’re watching the next commercial touting the latest, greatest diet plan. Now I know you’re probably thinking about Marie Osmond and her 500 Nutrisystem commercials. But dieting options are endless, and they’re all competing for your hard-earned dollars. Jenny Craig, South Beach, or Weight Watchers are a few popular diets you’ve probably heard of. Then, there is a plethora of pills promising to melt belly fat away. Think of all the wellness companies with weight loss products like Advocare, Slim-Fast, or Beachbody. Or walk into the nearest Vitamin Shoppe or GNC, and you’ll be overwhelmed by all the weight loss products. And then there are all those popular eating methods like Keto, Whole 30, Intermittent Fasting, or Atkins.

Money, money, money. All predicated on the premise that you need so and so’s special product or the newest method to drop weight. Needless to say, you can find a diet plan or product everywhere you look. Our culture is inundated with the message that you need to lose weight and try ________ for the quickest way to do it!

The thing is…do diets really work? Think about it…why else would the dieting industry make so much money? If their products, methods, and plans were actually effective, they’d pose a threat to their own business. If dieting really worked, the diet industry wouldn’t rake in billions and billions of dollars year after year. They profit by making empty promises while preying on our hopeful desires that this new diet will produce the weight loss we want. And the cycle continues…

But maybe you don’t even actually need to go on a diet. Maybe, with consistent changes to your eating habits, you would experience weight loss and feel better, serving your body well for years to come.

Ok, but what about…

Yes, before we get to those eating tips, I’ll make a couple of disclaimers. Occasionally, some of these well-known plans, programs, products do result in weight loss, are recommended by a doctor, or have good suggestions. But resorting to these efforts again and again, while foregoing tried and true good nutritional habits just isn’t going to bring about the lasting change you desire. If you are at a place where you want to lose weight, then here are some things to keep in mind.

A few things to remember

First, we don’t put on pounds overnight. Weight is gained day after day, year after year. So to lose it and keep it off, we need to accept that it will take time.

Second, we’ve likely developed bad habits that led to our weight gain. So to lose weight, we’ll need to work on identifying those habits and changing them for better ones. (This is a post on its own. Altering bad habits is a major contributor to weight loss requiring introspection, self-examination, and honesty.)

Third, sometimes we get an arbitrary number in our head we’d like to get down to. This isn’t always helpful. When working to drop weight, create incremental, attainable goals, and talk to your doctor about a reasonable weight for your age, sex, height, weight, and family history.

Fourth, the best way to lose weight and keep it off will always involve a combination of eating healthy and exercising. Regular activity is a must for sustaining weight loss.

Fifth, for Christians, reaching a certain weight or pant size should not rule our thoughts or actions. We always need to keep our heart motivations in check when trying to lose weight.

How to: Eat healthy without dieting

These tips come from tried and true nutritional research. They are things I learned years ago in undergrad that have stood the test of time, unlike many of the nutrition trends that come and go so often.

1. Drink water. We are bad about drinking our calories in cokes, lattes, teas, and juices. Drinking calories is a quick way to consume excess calories. Plus, this usually guarantees we aren’t getting enough water. Water is vital to many of the body’s functions. The baseline amount most people need is half your body weight in ounces of water. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, you need a minimum of 80 ounces of water a day. But if you get sweaty from a workout, gardening, walking the dog, etc, you’ll need more than that. I recommend getting a reusable water bottle so you can keep track of the ounces you’re drinking. For that 160 pound person, buy a bottle that holds 40 ounces, fill it up, and drink it twice.

2. Eat breakfast! Lots of people I talk to skip breakfast. But this is not good for the body and usually leads to eating more calories later in the day. While you sleep, the body goes without food, and when you wake up, you literally need to break the fast – that’s what breakfast is! Your body needs the energy to get up and going in the morning after a night’s rest. Even though you’ve been asleep the body is still burning calories to function, though not as actively as when you’re awake. Eating within an hour of waking up is best for your body to get going and ready for the day. So fuel your body in the mornings with a well-balanced breakfast.

Alright, that’s a lot to digest in this post. For part 2, I’ll give tips on sugar and eating carbs, fats, and proteins, which will help with how to eat that well-balanced breakfast!

Lainey blogs at LaineyGreer.com; this article is reprinted with his permission.