1. Everyone is on a diet. Healthy dieters choose a diet that will bring them closer to their life goals.

Diet is a not dirty word. You are on a diet every day, and making it a healthy diet is not as challenging as you may think. It is not about starvation. It is not about being deprived. It is about being able to breathe in your jeans. Even more than that, it is about living your best life. It is about having integrity in your actions.

2. Healthy dieters intentionally plan their diets.

Without intention and planning, most people will eat what they’ve always eaten; whatever is convenient; whatever is marketed to them—just like the rest of society. Unless you want to look like the rest of society looks and want the body you currently have (or the one you’ll have after the next five pounds, or the next . . .), then you can’t continue to eat like the rest of society eats, and you certainly can’t continue to eat what you’ve always eaten. Instead, you must deliberately plan and pursue a healthy diet.

3. Healthy dieters don’t make excuses.

There is no one-size-fits-all diet. There are untold ways to cut calories, get more exercise, and improve the healthfulness of our diet. It is important not to argue for what you can’t do, but instead search for what you are willing to do to achieve a healthy diet that fits your life and goals.

4. Healthy dieters don’t whine about the effort it takes to eat a healthful diet and are willing to spend time planning and preparing.

Dieting is hard. Dieting is easy. Either of these could be true, depending on your attitude. The truth of the matter is, dieting just is. Ever since Eve plucked the apple from the tree, the cavewoman rubbed sticks together to roast the bear, grandma strung a string bean, the Irish boiled the potato, or the Koreans pickled a cabbage, we’ve had to put effort into having a healthy diet. Modern, successful hipsters that you are—you do not escape this reality just because you can order Chinese takeout.

5. Healthy dieters base their diets around a weekly planning routine.

Diets are not a one-time decision. Just as soon as you get comfortable in your routine, you’ll remodel your kitchen, go on vacation, sprain an ankle, hit hormone hell, or simply get bored. Part of having a healthy diet means having the flexibility to roll with life’s changes.

6. Healthy dieters embrace dieting from the top down, expressing curiosity about the whys and wherefores of eating habits.

As babies, the first comfort you received was at the breast or bottle. You are hardwired to eat for comfort. You also eat to socialize, to procrastinate, and out of pure habit. There are a myriad of reasons for eating that go far beyond nutrition. Sorting those out, exploring alternatives, and finding ways to enjoy a healthy diet for any of these reasons—without sabotaging your health and well-being—is an interesting process.

7. Healthy dieters combine the top-down approach with the bottom-up approach to dieting and understand they have to impose some structure to change their deeply ingrained habits and learn new behaviors.

Calories in/calories out, keeping a food diary, making a meal plan, devising a strategy for getting to the gym, or going grocery shopping with a list are just some of the practical, bottom-up approaches that might be used for diet accountability and information gathering, all of which are necessary for healthy dieting.

8. Healthy dieters use the inside-out approach to dieting—using diet as a means for self-inquiry and as a catalyst for personal development and spiritual and emotional growth.

Life lessons are learned through difficulty. No one would choose to have a rocky marriage, credit card debt, or an illness, but savvy men and women learn valuable lessons from the curves life throws them, and that includes the need to diet. Healthy dieting is one of the easier curves through which you get an opportunity to learn life lessons—at least it is something you can control.

9. Healthy dieters spend five minutes each day setting their intentions and planning their diet direction. They commit five more minutes to reviewing their day, noting their accomplishments and opportunities to self-correct.

Demanding perfection will give you an excuse not to “diet” at all. The truth is that you’ll sometimes stray off of your ideal course, but part of healthy dieting is learning to make those detours less drastic and frequent.

10. Healthy dieters get the support and motivation they need to succeed—and understand this support goes beyond “getting to goal weight.”

Changing something so ingrained in your own personal psyche, society, families, and workplaces can be a major undertaking. Healthy dieting requires a support system to help you when the challenge seems particularly daunting.

11. Healthy Dieters learn to normalize their relationship with food and their body so they can spend their time and energy being more present in the world around them.

The healthy dieter understands that there is more to life than dieting—much more!

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