Fad diets are all the rage these days. Some people claim to lose hundreds of pounds, while others claim they’re useless. The truth is probably somewhere in between. The fact of the matter is that there is no one size fits all approach to losing and managing weight. We are all different in our biology, lifestyle, sociocultural and economic factors. The biggest part of any “diet” is really your mindset about your day to day life and what you want to accomplish. I use “diet” in quotations mostly because it is an incredibly oversaturated word. A diet is really just what you eat on a daily basis. To me, a true diet is changing the way we relate to our food and how it actually affects our health mentally, emotionally, and, of course physically.
With the millions of diet programs out there, I figured I’d shift the dialogue a little bit and give three tips on choosing what and how to eat on a daily basis.
You Will Mess up, so Plan for It
First, do a search for “Precision Nutrition.” This is a fantastic and holistic program by Dr. John Berardi that is generally directed at athletes, but is valuable for anyone looking to optimize their health through nutrition. One of his rules of thumb is to aim for 90%. This is fundamental. Fad diets often lead to a crash and burn effect where you are so strict that the minute you go off your program, you completely derail. We all know this feeling. You’re so good for a week, and then the weekend comes and you go out with friends and all of a sudden you’re filling up on fried food. It happens. But what happens after the weekend? Do you completely give up on what you accomplished, or just come back and get back on track? With the 90% rule of thumb, you don’t have to be perfect all the time. It gives you the freedom (guilt free no less) to get off track and maybe even plan when you will derail. This keeps people sane and happy on the diet without guilt or pressure. Try it out.
Look Forward, Not Behind
Number two we just touched on: going on a diet doesn’t include immediately cutting out everything that’s bad for you to the point where you’re eating just chicken and vegetables every single day. Sure, that can be delicious. Will it be sustainable? No way. Reframe the way you’re thinking about what you’re cutting out, avoiding, and missing, to getting excited about what you get to eat. Enjoy local meats and fresh vegetables. Enjoy looking up a new recipe and cooking it at home. Play a little bit, and you’ll have a lot more fun and with that, a lot more success.
There is No Pressure
Finally, the art of the meal prep. The biggest thing you can do for your health (and wallet by the way) is cooking and eating at home. Meal prepping is such an intimidating pair of words. It’s like if you don’t cook 7 meals on Sunday, you are a complete failure. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It does help to have sauces or soups prepped in a big batch that you can use throughout the week, but that’s not the only way to do it. The simple act of making 2-3 times as much as you’re going to eat in one sitting, so you have some for tomorrow or the next day is enough. Plus, it’ll be many times fresher than the 7-day old meal. Meal prep is about mentally planning out your meals one or a couple of days in advance. Meal prepping is also a lot more fun with a friend. This way you can share on groceries and kitchen equipment and share recipes. Again, this is not a diet, it’s about lifestyle. Don’t dread. Enjoy!
Enjoy it; It’s Your Life
This last tip brings up one or two bonus pieces of advice. First, food is social. It’s not for pounding down in the car on your way home from work. Sit down with friends and family, turn off your phone and the tv. Eat, and savor each bite. You worked hard for it and it’s gonna work hard for you. Trust me.
Let me know of any other tips or mindset shifts you may have that help you to experience the healing, vitalizing and fun aspects of food. What I’ve written is just a start!