Aiming for a healthier diet? Some thoughts to consider.
It's that time of year where we all promise ourselves to start to live a healthier lifestyle and get out of those bad habits. The most popular one I hear is “I’m going on a Diet!”. Clients often ask me my thoughts on common diets and diet fads, and although some have their merit, time and place, in all honestly my thoughts are that no ‘diet’ will do for you what normal healthy eating does, so think hard on what diets have to offer and what they promote and make an informed choice.
Amongst the list of many I’ve been recently asked about are the South Beach Diet, the Dukan Diet, 5:2 Diet, Lemon Detox Diet, Zone Diet, Paleo Diet, Blood Type Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers… and many many more! I have to say I’m always surprised at just how many ‘diets’ are out there – seriously, the list just goes on and on and on and on and on… so where to start?
Well, I can’t go into each one with pro's and con's (some don't even have any pro's!!) otherwise I’d be writing a book - but I will say this;
- Be realistic and rational with your diet goals.
- Think about what your body needs, don’t try to survive on starvation for weeks or months with the aim to lose weight, because I guarantee that the weight will come straight back on, and add a bit more, when you get back to your usual ways.
- The key to success in changing your eating habits is to keep it simple and choose natural healthy nutritious foods. Skip the processed stuff.
- Allow yourself a treat, but remember ‘a treat’ is just that, an occasional indulgence not a regular one! This will help keep you sane and on track, and ensure you can still enjoy and share in with friends on special occasions and social times.
Monitoring and Staying on track
Some useful ways to track how you’re doing is to keep a food diary – maybe even add your mood/feelings to it. You’ll be surprised how writing these down will clearly show patterns on how foods are positively or negatively affecting you and your body.
It goes without saying that we should all avoid processed foods, which will have lower nutritional values than natural whole foods. And don’t be fooled by ‘healthy’ packaged foods that can promote less of one thing, but hide the fact that it had tons of another – i.e: low fat, does not necessarily mean low sugar! So read the labels, and make informed choices on what you’re consuming and don’t be taken in by the advertising.
If your challenge is self-control, look at gradually reducing the problem foods/or drinks each week rather than going cold turkey. You’ll find that over time you’ll no longer seek out or crave it as much as simply restricting it all together. So start by paying attention to things like portion sizes, size and regularity of treats, alcohol quantities and so on, with the aim to reduce them a little each week until you reach your goal.
Striving for overall wellness
Thinking of making positive changes in your diet is also a good opportunity to look at your overall wellness, so make sure you've got other areas in check that most of us forget to think about like getting sufficient sleep, lowering our stress levels, ensuring feelings of happiness and other lifestyle factors, as these actually all play a part in success or failure with body fat management.
NOTICE I’ve said ‘body fat management’, losing muscle or water will seemingly appear you are losing weight but it is the body fat your aiming to reduce. Lose of muscle or too much water is in fact a rather unhealthy outcome long term, something to consider and seriously look at when thinking through some of the diets I’ve mentioned above.
Keep moving forwards
So when starting off on your new health plans, don't be too hard on yourself through the process – take it in your stride and make sure you take at least one step forwards everyday that will get you closer to your goal – knowing you are making progress will have a positive impact in you ultimately achieving it. If you have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up about it, put it behind you and focus for next time on how to avoid doing it again.
Remember, that new healthy lifestyle you want is for life and not only for next week, this month or this year! The years will treat you kindly and your mind will feel positive if you treat your body well…
Thanks for reading.
Be Healthy. Be Happy.