Before I start I would like to ask if you could do me a tiny favor?
Please take a minute and close your eyes.
Now, imagine a world where you didn’t have to worry about dieting, or your weight, or the size in jeans you’ve just gone up to.
Please open your eyes.
Now, I’m going to tell you something, and it may go against 99% of the “nutritional advice” circulating around the internet. You do live in that world. You don’t in fact have to worry about dieting, or your weight, or the size in jeans you’ve just gone up to. Now, I would like to point out that I am not saying that everyone should have donuts and ice cream all day every day, and throw nutritional guidelines out the window. But I do think we should throw our concept of “diet” out of the window. Everyone always complains that they can’t stick to their diet, or that they keep on regaining the weight they lost– but they don’t realize diets were essentially built to fail.
Let me give you a scenario. Let’s say you decide to go on a juice cleanse to lose weight before your best friend’s wedding. You clench through. You ignore the pizza, and the chips, and the ice cream, and stick to the cleanse– and eventually you lost those 15 extra pounds. You did it! You lost the weight, you look good, and you have more energy! People should aspire to be like you, right? Wrong.
Less than a month after the wedding you go back to the same eating patterns you had before and you’ve gained almost all the weight in less than a month. You curse yourself and your luck and you wonder why your diets always turn out like this.
But honestly, I’m here to tell you it’s not entirely your fault. We have been conditioned as a society to fall into fad diets that do not keep us full– or necessarily healthy. Healthy should be the goal. Not the number on the scale, not our pants size, not how much we weighed in high school.
Eating balanced meals with a variety of Fruits, Vegetables, Protein, and Carbs (yes carbs) is important for maintaining the healthy function of your body. Going on a juice cleanse dangerously limits your vitamin intake and takes away a lot of the fiber from the juiced vegetables. Your body comes with a perfectly good built in detox system, the claim that cleanses help stimulate your digestive system is just silly. So does literally anything that enters your digestive system. People generally feel more energized because they are cutting down on processed foods. Cleanses are also not sustainable. Your body craves a variety of foods, limiting it to just one type of nutritional consumption is dangerous and frankly just plain cruel.
You should eat healthy for a variety of reasons: to prevent cardiac disease, to reduce cancer risks, to help control asthma and other respiratory diseases, to reduce risk of stroke, to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, to help prevent or control diabetes, to gain more energy, to have healthier hair, skin and bones, and last but not least, to live a longer more fulfilling life. And if all of that doesn’t sound good to you, the CDC reported that, “Annual medical costs for people who were obese were $1,429 higher than those for people of normal weight”.
Tips on how to be healthier:
- Try substituting your most common “un-healthy” food options for healthier ones!
- ex: If you like to eat a lot of white rice try substituting a grain with more fiber. Good options are brown rice, quinoa, spelt, Couscous, barley, cauliflower rice, and Freekeh (my personal favorite).
Tip: if you have a sweet tooth, try replacing ice cream with frozen fruit!
- Read labels!
- There is a lot of important information that’s hidden in food labels. Whether it’s the surprisingly high sugar content or the shockily low serving size, a lot of processed foods can negatively impact our health without us even knowing.
- Drink more water
- Sometimes our body can mistake the feeling of thirst for the feeling of hunger, so we end up eating when we’re really just thirsty!
- Decreasing portion sizes
- Eating a scoop of ice cream once and a while is totally acceptable in a healthy diet- eating a tub of ice cream is not.
- Slowly reducing the meal portion size over time will help shrink your appetite.
- Eat so you’re full, not so you’re finished
- Listen to your body. Sometimes we know we’re stuffed but we push ourselves to finish our plate. Now this can be for a variety or reasons, from not wanting to seem rude, to social conditioning, to just absent-mindingly eating infront of the TV– but this practice can introduce a lot of unnecissary calories into our body.
- Eating smaller meals throughout the day
- Spacing out meals throughout the day has been shown to be the most effective way of preventing hunger.
- Aim for a colorful pla te
- And this is not just so you can take an artsy instagram picture! Regularly having a variety of nutritious foods in each meal ensures that you are getting in all of those vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants commonly found in unprocessed food. Try adding in color everywhere you can– you never know when you will find your new favorite combo! I personally love to add in some broccoli and cauliflour whenever I’m making mac and cheese! Not only do the vegetables add in more color but it gives the dish a more complex flavor.
- Try a new style!
- If you really don’t like eating vegetables, try adding in a new combonation of spices, or even cooking your vegetables with a different method to give them a more appealing flavor! For example, grilling vegetables tends to bring out a sweeter flavor in most vegetables so they taste very different from they do raw. If all else fails, try hiding your vetables in food you do like so you don’t notice the flavor as much.
- Put away the Fryer
- Baking offers a similar texture to frying, but it will give you much less saturated fat.
- Instead of falling into the trap of Fast-Food, meal-prep! You will have a delicious, and healthier option to look forward to after a long day!
- Having at lease 30 minuets of moderate exercise 3 times a week is suggested. Exercise helps speed up your metabolism and increases dopamine hormone levels which reduces stress.
- Stress eating is very difficult to control and and ineffective coping mechanism. Managing stress through meditation, yoga, or exercise are good options to reduce overall anxiety and give you more control of your life!
The most important tip I have is to make your personal health a priority and just not weightloss. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean eliminating all your favorite foods. You can still eat all of your favorite dishes by managing portion size and substituting some ingredients for healthier options.
Be mindful, and love your body no matter what size you are!