I have never been on what I would officially call a diet. However, I find that it's good to have some rule in effect about what I can eat, even if it's minor. A rule like that forces me to think about what I'm eating, and that alone is very helpful in maintaining decent diet.
Generally I stick to a mini diet for about a month or so, but I've done longer and shorter.
Here are some of the rules I put in place at some point:
- No alcohol: I've been a teetotaler my whole life. I believe the most alcohol I've ever consumed at once was at The Melting Pot (a restaurant specializing in fondue).
- Many years ago I tried having different dietary restrictions for different days of the week, so Monday I couldn't eat this, Tuesday that, and so on. It didn't work that well, because I'd have to change my shopping/cooking/storing strategies day-to-day. However, it did get me thinking about what I was eating.
- No fried food. I did this for nearly all of 2007 (mid-January till Thanksgiving). This was prompted by the fact that I'd been living in Georgia for the last year, and anyone who's lived in the South knows, fried food is a way of life there. (It's probably that way because it's pretty much the only thing you can expect Southerners to cook reliably well.) After a year in Georgia I was sick of the fried food, so I just quit eating it. To this day I eat much less fried food than I did before my year off.
- Various limitations on carbonated beverages, including (at different and sometimes overlapping times): no carbonation at all, no beverages with sugar, no caffeinated beverages, and nothing with aspartame. Once when I was living in Cincinnati I had no sugar/no caffeine/no aspartame in effect, but sucralose (Splenda) was ok. Splenda is a good sweetener for fruity drinks but sucks for cola; nevertheless I would have to grab an RC Zero every once in awhile.
- No caffeine. I gave it up cold turkey after some precautionary medical checks. I should mention that caffeine does almost nothing to my mental state until I drink enough of it to give me a racing heart, which conversely I seem to be rather sensitive to. After a while (and noting that stopping it had solved my racing hearts) I allowed myself to use it occasionally.
- Don't eat out. For me it makes economic sense to eat out. I value time saved more the money lost, though I do like to cook. So every so often I add a rule to eat in for a period of time (usually around a month or so).
- Only eat out at places I'd never tried before. (This is my current mini diet.)
- No sugary foods. I've tried this a few times a while back, but wasn't as successful as I'd have liked. I'm planning this for next month, though, and I am more experienced on how to stick to these mini diets now so I think I'll be successful this time.
- Once I tried to go a month only eating ethnic food. I thought this would be an easy one. I lasted about one week.
A few future mini diets I have planned are:
- No meat. I've been told it's not as easy as it sounds.
- Eat something every day that I wish I ate more of. This includes foods such as fish, sweet potatoes, hot cereals, vegetables in general.
- Calorie counting. I.e., a "real" diet. I've never done it but I'd like to try sometime to see how I cope. Maybe I'll even try an extreme limited caloric intake.