The biggest mistake people make when they decide to eat healthy, according to experts

No matter which diet you pick — ban gluten, say good-bye to sugar, give up carbs — the problem remains the same: Eventually it ends.

Most of us who try lifestyle changes like limiting carbs or sugar only keep it up for a period of time. Research shows the vast majority of people who diet to lose weight end up gaining back some or all of the weight they lost, typically within a few years.

We asked two experts — registered dietitian Andy Bellatti and exercise scientist Philip Stanforth — what people should do if they want to lose weight and keep it off.

Both experts said one principle should guide any change you make to what you eat. It comes down to doing something you can maintain for the rest of your life.

“You know we tend to say you go on a diet, but that also implies you’re going to go off of it,” Stanforth said. “And that’s not how we should be looking at this.”

Instead, he and Bellatti suggest you develop healthier eating and exercise patterns that you can keep up long-term.

“I’d say nine times out of 10 the people who change slowly and do manageable goals are the people who three years out still have success,” Bellatti said. “I know many people who’ve gone on some kind of crash diet for a week and lose a bunch of weight and a few months later they’re back to square one.”

For this reason, Bellatti recommends clients give themselves two to four years of consistent behavioural changes. These could include things like adding more vegetables to each meal, walking instead of driving to work a few days a week, and cutting back on sugary drinks like soda.

“Sometimes people are looking for the latest fad, but oftentimes it’s the fundamentals that are the most important and that make the biggest difference,” Stanforth said.

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