Eating well is an important part of every healthy lifestyle. There are many options for diet choices such as Vegan, Pescatarian, mediterannean, and Paleo that can form the basis for eating balanced meals.
If you are someone who is meaning to make some change to your eating however, it can be really challenging to find the right choice in the midst of the overwhelming amount of information. Without knowing where to start, and when we try too many things all at once, we can set ourselves up for disappointment. So I am going to make it easy for you and reinforce this from my own experience as well as about 95% of dieters, calorie restriction does not achieve long term weight loss.
Here are some really handy tips that make healthy eating easy to understand.
Diets Don’t Work
I have struggled with my weight my whole life, I am now finally making peace with the fact that I am just not meant to be thin. There is absolutely no reason for me to be unhealthy as a result of my weight. The issue of weight is a multi faceted problem and it is not just about calories. There are lots of research to continually suggest to us that diets don´t achieve long term weight loss.
Yet, along with many others I have continued to try diet after diet, blaming myself for lack of willpower. I have now realized that this mindset is the biggest factor in why I have put on weight in the first place.
Here are some really easy tips that I have actually tried that make healthy eating so easy I do not feel like I am trying at all!
Have you ever tried waking up to a glass of water before your cofee?? Crazy I know. This is life changing, but you need to pay attention to staying hydrated. Also keep in mind that you need to make up for diuretic liquids with a glass of water per cup. That’s Coffee, any other Caffeinated beverages, and alcoholic drinks.
2- The Plate Method
When did we look at meals as an opportunity to cut back on calories instead of a way to nourish our bodies? I certainly don’t remember a time where I thought of food solely for nutrition until I was finally over the diet culture. You do not have to count/track anything. For a balanced meal, a quarter of your plate should be made up of roughly,
- 2 quarters made up of non-starchy vegetables
- 1 quarter of starchy foods
- 1 quarter of protein based foods
3- The 5/20 nutrition rule or 5/15 rule.
Have you ever been told by a doctor to cut back on something? Say you were trying to lower your fat intake. How do you know if your chosen food is low fat? well the rule is as follows. If you are trying to cut back on something, use the nutrition label to aim for 5% of the daily value. If you are trying to increase your intake of a nutrient or macro, then aim for 15 to 20%. And leave macro tracking to the diet junkies.
4- Get your vitamins/minerals/supplements.
I don’t know about you but I live in Canada, so no Vitamin D for this girl. Also our produce is not the freshest due to the climate. I always take a daily Multivitamin to make sure I have that covered. I have also found this to be especially helpful when I am trying to eat healthier or incorporate more activity.
5- Pay attention to how you feel.
If you know that something bothers your stomach try to avoid it. Ensure you are not uncomfortable due to hunger or fullness. Remember to Eat when you are hungry not because it is time to eat and stop when you are satisfied not full. It is normal to eat more or less some days.
6- Pay attention to your gut health (Probiotics).
Eating any amount of junk food will wreak havoc on your gut bacteria. A good probiotic or a daily yogurt will take care of that. Good digestive health is really key to your overall health.
7- Do not compromise on your sleep.
You plug your phone in every night and it’s mostly a hunk of plastic. You can do yourself that much kindness at least.
8- Manage Stress.
There is not a manual for that one. However you must work on managing your stress in a way that helps you. Maybe you are not really feeling the meditation, yoga vibe. Perhaps you prefer a walk in a quiet area. Or listening to upbeat music on your way home from work. Whatever helps you make sure you do it. That is the real self care.
9- Do not eat and drink at the same time.
This aids in digestion. It is the oldest and easiest trick in the book for lowering body fat. Works like magic and you feel great after you eat. You need to wait an hour after eating before you can have your drink. Of course there are no set rules to healthy eating. I just found this helpful in keeping meals light and easy to digest.
10- Eat till you are satisfied, not full.
Hunger is the driver to eat. Not the time of day, availability of food etc, we need to be better at listening to our bodies. While we may have to set some mealtimes due to work schedules for example, hunger should still be the guide as to when and how much we eat.
When I feel like I have forgotten how to listen to my body I will intermittent fast for a day or two spread out throughout the week. I find it is really helpful when I am craving vegetables or just reminding myself that hunger comes in waves. That true hunger is patient, The urgent feeling of hunger is usually associated more with a dip in blood sugar following an insulin spike. Which intermittent fasting also helps with. I am not a proponent of intermittent fasting as a regular habit because I have gotten sick of dealing with hangry coworkers that do it. I have also found it makes me more likely to over indulge later. Which brings me to my next point.
11- Don’t deprive yourself.
If you want a donut, have a donut. If you want chocolate go ahead. Chips and chocolate together? (salt and sweet is the best combo go ahead!). Seriously eating ¨rules¨ are for dieting not living. If you actually had a sweet treat every time you want one you are definitely less likely to eat a box of donuts in your car while planning out how you will compensate for that over the next few weeks of ¨being good¨.
12- Recognize cues to eat and allow for room to change or replace them.
Board Games are a favorite pastime in my house. When we get together with friends, board game night usually brings a pass to eat chips, now every time we hit the tabletop I want chips. It is totally okay to have chips, but perhaps since we do play them quite frequently this is not a healthy habit. The same goes for night time snacking and watching TV, this is also a new problem for me. Recognizing that the reason I want to eat is because of these signals to my brain to start a habit loop is the first step in replacing this habit.
13- Design your space to encourage healthy eating.
You have definitely heard of using smaller plates for dinner portions. This works wonders for pasta dinners for me. Although I do like a full size plate if there are vegetables involved.
Reaching for unhealthy snacks is easy if they are in plain view. Avoid leaving cookies or chips on the counter. However, putting snacks like that in the top shelf for me just reinforces the idea that these are ¨bad foods¨ and makes me want them even more. So I am definitely not recommending that as it did not work for me. I store all my pantry foods in the pantry. And when treating all foods as equal form this standpoint I do not desire a cookie any more than a carrot.
Now that I have such a gentle approach to healthy eating and living. I have felt a big change in my energy levels and mood. All it takes really is small incremental changes to turn things around.
May all who read this be happy, strong and healthy.