Are you going crazy with all the latest information about diets? It seems that we are bombarded with a multitude of fads and trends, which make the simple task of eating quite a challenge. The information is more often contradictory than not and it seems that there are experts everywhere to prove that their new “method” is the magic cure-it-all-fix.
Here is a list of quite simple rules to follow in order to maintain global health, which some are in combination with good nutrition. Even with a very severe diet, you still can be unhealthy as you may have stress in your life, might be sleep deprived, weak, etc.
Cook Most Of Your Meals Yourself
Packaged food contains preservatives, additives, artificial flavors, trans fats, lots of obscure words ending in “ose,” corn syrup, sugar, sodium, etc. The best way to avoid all of these at once is to cook your own food.
You don’t need to become a famous chef. Just learn a few recipes, simple and easy, and repeat them. Variety is overrated. We normally only eat about eight different meals anyways (two or three different breakfasts, one-day oatmeal, one day a shake, one-day cereals – two or three different lunches, a wrap, a salad, a sandwich, a soup – three or four different dinners – a chicken dish, a soup, a salad, a fish, beef or legumes). No need to be complicated. Find something healthy that works and make it from scratch.
When you do cook, make some extra and have it ready to go for a few meals in advance. I normally grill seven or eight chicken breasts at a time and freeze them in small portions, pre-cut, so that I can add some protein to my husband’s salad. I cook a huge batch of quinoa on Sunday night so that I can add some to my salads and soups all week. Or I make a big pot of soup and warm it up during the week.
With these meals ready to go, it is more likely that you will eat at home because there will be something available quickly. By choosing to eat at home instead of in restaurants, you can control what is on your plate. Restaurants tend to add additional sauces or sugars or fats to make the meals more appealing or gourmet.
Avoid restaurants as much as you can, and when you do go to restaurants, ask the waiter what they suggest being the healthiest item on the menu and go with it. Pretend you are at some friend’s house and that you don’t have a say in the food being served.
Check your portions. One plate is enough. Make sure half of your meal is veggies, one quarter is protein, and one quarter is starch (if you eat starch – otherwise replace by veggies or a plant-based food).
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Eat your calories. Chose to chew food over drinking beverages loaded with calories. Drink water. Unless you are in a hurry and need to substitute meals by shakes in your diet, or are using smoothies and protein shakes as an add-on prior to or after your workouts, chose to eat food instead. Grab a 50 calories apple, as opposed to drinking a 150 calories juice.
Being sleep deprived is quite common. A body that is fighting to stay awake and did not get the rest it needed will more likely not have all its digestive power and may “forget” and temporarily put some metabolism function on the back burner, leaving you with food that is loaded on your hips and stomach area, waiting to be treated, like a pile of documents on your desk. A rested body allows you to eliminate better.
Sleep will also allow you to decrease the amount of build-up stress in your life. There might be some external pressure creating bad eating habits. Have a look at your life and identify the areas causing you the most amount of stress and find ways to lower your stress level. Make your nutrition your priority, even in periods of stress, and take time to sit down and eat, even 15 minutes.
A good way to get rid of stress is to exercise. It helps clearing the mind and makes the body stronger, the heart and the digestive system more efficient, increasing your metabolism so you burn more calories. After a good workout, the external pressure might still be there but it doesn’t affect you anymore and you can think clearly. Make sure you feed yourself before exercising and re-fuel after.
Cultivate Healthy Relationships
Hang out with people that eat well. Chose to have a reoccurring phone call that will make you unavailable at the specific time the donuts cart gets to your desk at the office, or have a healthy snack available at that time so that you are not tempted to reach out for the 1000 calories muffin (which is in fact a cake in disguise). Let people know around you that you eat well and to stop inviting you for chicken wings, or order something else (asking the waiter what is the healthiest thing on the menu… remember?).
Know Why You Want To Be Slimmer
If you want to lose weight, ask yourself why you want to lose weight. What are the things your weight is keeping you from doing? What is the outcome beyond weight loss? What is really important to you? Nobody will cut a piece of chocolate cake because their goal is to be five pounds lighter. But you will be amazed at what you will be willing to do in order to be able to play with your child or go on bike rides with them, be free and increase your self-confidence.
There is no food that tastes as good as thin feels. Living in a healthy body trumps every bad habit. Find a way to make it fun! Know what you are doing it for. If you can’t happily eat less, you more likely won’t. Weight loss that is done through suffering will more likely come back. Do little things that are easy and keep the weight off for good.
About the Author: NATHALIE PLAMONDON