However, diets can be beneficial. If you think of them as a transitional period, where you watch your old habits and horrible food choices die, giving birth to a new and healthier you.
The reason I believe diets can be helpful is the fact that eating can be so emotionally charged. You can lie to yourself that a Snickers will improve your day. And that kind of emotional tie is exactly why I believe temporary diets--you need to purge your body of negative emotion ties and reset. Just like a breakup, you go through a transitory period where you get used to the idea of being without something/ someone and then move forward with a healthier version of you. Say goodbye to that bad boyfriend.
|The kind of crap that is making you fat AND sick|
- No matter how it cost, or how recently you purchased it, throw the bad crap out. This seems wasteful, but it's better in the trash than in your body. "Bad crap" includes: pop (soda, depending what part of the country you live), premixed sweetened iced tea, white bread, white pasta, full-fat ice cream, coffeemate, frozen/breaded meat or dinners, cake mix, cookies, doughnuts, pudding, sausage, potato chips, dips, premade guacamole, sugary juices, frozen pizza, canned fruit in juice, Rice-a-Roni (or similar) prepackaged sides, candy bars, pastries, mac and cheese, whipped cream, full-fat sour cream, full-fat cheese, cream cheese... you get the picture? Don't torture yourself. The less you have it in your home the less likely you will have ease reaching for it. Would a recovering alcoholic stock his cabinet full of booze? No, and neither should you stock yours full of bad food choices. Take charge.
- Does this seem harsh? Yes. Fine, be a do-gooder. Take all the food (non-perishable) and donate it to a church or like-minded charity to feed the homeless in your area. Or, if you really want good karma, take all the food (including perishables) and run it directly over to a food pantry.
- I attack Restocking in a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style. I believe there are three paths you can take: A.) Resolve to cook/prepare your own meals entirely; B.) Take advantage of weight-loss and healthy eating brands and stock up on frozen meals, frozen grilled chicken packages, precut veggies, salad bars at the supermarket, etc.; C.) Do a mixture of the two.
- It takes more time, but I advocate Path A. It's the best way to full control portions, nutritional content, sodium and processing. If this is too scary, or too time consuming, aim for Path C. For treats or to save on time, try stocking up on a few of the new Kashi or Weight Watcher frozen products out there (they do a good job of keeping sodium low and fiber high). And, because portions can seem so small when you're making dietary changes, I always add a bunch of veggies (spinach, tomato, zucchini, mushroom, arugula, peppers) to any pre-made meal. Add volume without many extra calories.
|My fav: 500 cals for 2/3 of the pizza, 8 grams of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Have it as your "treat" meal|
- Do not shop while hungry, or arguing on the phone. Put down the phone, consult your list (you made a list, correct?) and concentrate on finding foods you like AND are healthy. Call the peanut gallery back when you are leaving the store. Nothing like an argument to make you buy cupcakes.
Step 3: Eat! Ok, cook, prepare and then eat. Put your restocked groceries to good use.
- Buy/make soup! Soup is warm (feels filling in your stomach), can be chucked full of veggies, proteins, vegetarian or not and just damn good and good for you. Soup is a dieters/healthy eaters friend. If you don't cook, start out with broth-based, low-sodium cans like Progresso, Trader Joe's store brands, and add your beans, veggies, chunks of chicken, frozen shrimp. I personally love adding frozen peas and carrots to any flavor of soup I make. Try it for lunches at work or a first course to dinner. Soup is great because you can make it in big batches and distribute throughout the week. Even the workoholic can master this move.
- Go Greek. Buy the big tub of Greek yogurt, or the individual cups. I like Chobani cups, with about 160 calories for the many fruit flavors, 0-2% fat and probiotics and calcium. The only "eh" side is each cup does come with 18 grams of sugar, from the fruit. If you are nixing sugar, try buying the tub of Greek yogurt (much less) and add your own fruit, granola, what have you.
- Grill, broil, bake, kabob, poach your protein options with fresh herbs, lemon, dijon mustard, yogurt marinade, hot sauce, lite soy sauce, garlic & some olive oil, etc. The point is... skip the bbq, breading, ranch dressing (disgusting), cheese, cream, overuse of butter, deep frying and pan frying. Keep your protein cooking simple and if you must sprinkle extras like shredded cheese, breadcrumbs, sauce on top, as a garnish. You will save lots of calories this way, just don't drench your food.
- Actually measure your carbs. This was the biggest pain in the ass for me, but it made me realize how much I was really eating (and it was way too much). Measure out 1/2 or 1 cup of your whole grain pasta, brown rice, or dinner roll (might be tricky, eyeball it). Pay attention to the calorie content of the slices of bread if you are making sandwiches/buns.
- Incorporate a side salad at dinner. Hell, have them for lunch, too. It doesn't have to be the main food option, but adding a side salad with a light dressing is better than french fries or chips. Little steps add up to big accomplishments.
- Drink water. Drink LOTS of water. Logistically? You are probably eating more fiber. You need to help lubricate your, eh, "engine" so things run smoothly. This will help with bloating. Your skin will look better, too. Hydration is important to all organs, especially your skin.
|Go ahead. Leave your house. It's ok.|
Step 4: Repeat after me, "Thou shall not be a hermit nor afraid of food." Do not become pain stricken that you cannot go out, indulge in alcohol, or enjoy a social meal. You might be drinking/eating less, but you still need to be a social being--if you stop, this sometimes this causes depression because you're busy agonizing over all the "fun" everyone is having and dive right back into that carton of ice cream for comfort. No, no. Bad. This is something I battle with often, mostly because many of my friends are "diners" and many are often "drinkers"-- and some meet in the middle. Time spent together often means a meal, a drink, or 4am tacos. It's hard work. Here are specific tips to navigate this situation:
- Channel your inner sexy party host and have friends over for dinner and drinks. You control the food, it will be less noticeable if you drink less (or chug light beer) and it's quality time well spent. If you want to do this often, find a way your friends can pitch in either culinary or cost-wise. Girls, we like dinner parties. Start a supper club or at least get a rotation going.
- Change your drink order. If you want one, have one. Or even three. But order light beer, clear alcohol with club soda with lemon/mint/cucumber, ask the bartender what he/she can make you that isn't sugary. And curb it to less than 3 nights a week--you still have a goal in mind.
- Order dressing, sauce, jam, gravy, topping on the side. If you must have ooey-gooey sauce, ask for it on the side. Dip your food/fork in it in between bites and hopefully the visual of that crap slathering your nutritious food will make you use less, or even none.
- Be sneaky. Organize "dates" with family, friends, significant others that have nothing to do with dinner, drinks or being sedentary. My best friend hates healthy food, exercise and any time I mention wheat grass. But, I love the crazy bitch, so I pull out the covert ops to find ways we can spend time together that doesn't sabotage my weight loss. Spend time at a new (and often Groupon-discounted) yoga class, art class, theatre, trivia night, movie, zoo, museum, beach, mall, concert, festival, grand opening. Get creative and try something new for yourself, too.
- Cut your food in half, put it in a to-go box immediately. I used to think this was so cliche, and then I lost 20 pounds. try it. Amidst eating, talking and enjoying company, you can feel full on a lot less. So, I'm bringing back this old trick.
- I don't always eat sushi, but when I do, I scrap half the rice off each roll or nigiri piece. Sushi is tricky--I hate the brown rice variety--by the time your meal is over, you have eaten a LOT of sticky white rice. Scrape some off. You'll be amazed at the pile left on your plate. Or, order sashimi and a miso soup or seaweed salad for more bulk. I also eat the garnish of shaved radish and ginger (not for everyone, I know) to help me feel like I'm eating more.
- Don't eat after 10pm. Not because I think any food consumed at that time will attach itself to your ass, but because most food you are going to have accessible to you at 10pm will be crap. If you are out, hold out till once you get home or to a home--eat something sensible if you are starving. Resist the tacos, pizza or cheeseburger. You'll be better for it.
|This is the kind of crap you might want to eat at 1am.|
Here are the four steps that I think create a solid diet regime that will eventually turn into a healthy-eating plan. A healthy-eating plan is something that feels less rigid, but that's because you've cut down on the crap (and crap behavior) that made you choose nutritionally-void foods, over sized portions and bottomless drinks in the first place.
Once you've reset your brain (and lost weight, therefore enjoying your laurels) continue to eat healthy, but feel free to indulge and don't chide yourself if you occasionally give into temptation. But, once you've given in, get back on track the next day, or the next meal. You didn't come all this way to mess it up now.
Enjoy feeling healthier, looking better and being more fit. Diets are like substitute teachers: temporary but gets the job done so you can keep advancing towards tomorrow's lesson goals.
What are your diet tips?
Suck it, South Beach Diet,
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