Fad diets are bad. Oh sure, they can lead to successful weight loss if you follow them exactly as they are designed. But that doesn’t mean every food that fits a diet is healthy, but it does mean you have to change your eating patterns to fit the diet’s rules.
The rules are difficult to follow for a long-term, so most people give up. The weight they worked so hard to lose comes back, and they find a new diet, lose the weight once more, and end up on a weight loss roller coaster.
This kind of yo-yo dieting may or may not be bad for your health. At the very least, it’s frustrating and disappointing.
So why bother? Give up the fad diet. And, instead of worrying about the mirror and your dress size, think about your health.
Besides, being healthy doesn’t mean you have to be a size 2 or a size 0. It means feeling good physically and emotionally. It means having energy and enjoying every day. It isn’t difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle, feel great, and still have room for the occasional treat. Let me show you how.
1. Know Your Healthy Foods
The first step is to know what foods are good for you. It’s fairly simple, really — the closer a food is to its natural state, the better it is for you.
Fresh fruits and berries are great and will satisfy a craving for sweets without adding extra sugar. Serve them in a bowl with a dab of real whipped cream or buy a good blender and make fruit smoothies.
Whole fresh vegetables have lots of vitamins and minerals, so eat more green, orange and yellow vegetables. Steam them — or eat them raw — to retain the most nutritional value. Be careful with cheesy and creamy sauces, they may be high in calories and fats that aren’t good for you.
Whole grain pasta or baked goods are better than those made with refined white flour. Avoid white breads and noodles because they’re made from flour that has had much of the nutritional content removed and the high starch content will affect your blood sugar as quickly as regular sugar. Avoid sugary snacks and pastries as well. An apple is good for you, an apple pie really isn’t.
Shop for lean meats and don’t forget the fish. The omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water ocean fish are often deficient in Western diets, so eat fish or seafood 2 or 3 times per week. Cooking methods matter too. Baked fish and chicken are healthier than fried, and lean meats like grass-fed beef, bison or venison are healthier than higher fat corn-fed beef. Processed lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, and sausages are linked to health problems, but if you love these meats, find healthier versions sold at health food stores.
Stick to water as your main beverage, and avoid sugary sodas. If you get tired of plain water, add a slice of lemon or lime to add a touch of flavor. Or mix fruit juice with carbonated water. Some herbal and green teas may add great benefits to your health. Even coffee can be good for you.
2. Assess Your Lifestyle
Once you learn which foods are good for you, you need to look at your eating habits. Change isn’t easy, so If most of the foods you eat aren’t healthy, you might want to work with your current habits and lifestyle conditions, so you don’t have to make a bunch of huge changes all at once.
Consider these questions, and then read on for tips to help you eat healthier:
- Do you eat because you are bored, sad, or happy?
- Do you snack in front of the TV without even giving it much thought?
- Are most of your meals eaten at home or in restaurants?
- How often do you eat fast food?
- Do you like to cook?
- How often do you grocery shop?
- Do you skip breakfast or lunch, and then overeat later in the day?
- How big are the portions you consume?
- Do you crave sweets?
- Are there foods you won’t give up?
3. Solutions for Snackers
If you’re an emotional eater, keep the junk food like potato chips, tortilla chips, ice cream, and candy out of the house. Buy healthy snacks like fruits, crunchy vegetables with dips or nuts instead. If you absolutely feel the need for a treat, go ahead and purchase a small piece of high-quality chocolate or something similar and enjoy it, just don’t buy any to bring home.
The same tips are helpful for those who enjoy TV snacking at home. If you don’t want to give up nibbling while watching your shows, keep low-calorie foods on hand because it’s very easy to eat too much when you’re entranced by your favorite drama, football game, or cooking show.
4.Tips for Dining Out
It’s not as easy to maintain a healthy diet if you eat many of your meals at restaurants — those salads might not be as appealing as a greasy cheeseburger and fries. Restaurants frequently serve huge portions of food too, much more than you need.
If you can’t hold your resolve to stick to the dinner salads, try a compromise — pick out an appetizer you love, combine it with a salad or a cup of soup, and skip the larger entrees. You can also share a meal or take half of it home. Dying for dessert? Order as small a size as possible, or maybe just one scoop of ice cream, rather than a larger, heavier dessert. Be careful with the after-dinner drinks as well. Maybe just have one glass of wine with your meal.
Fast food dining is especially difficult — if you eat a lot of it, you already know how difficult it is to eat healthily. Some places have added salads and some better choices, but it really isn’t a good way to eat. Keep fast food dining to a minimum, don’t go with the super sizes, and choose places that offer more fresh foods.