With the best of intentions, many of us kick-start the new year with a diet. Not long after, many of us serve ourselves mega-doses of self-recrimination as we give it up.
It’s not our fault. Many experts-dietitians, nutritionists and doctors-agree that diets just don’t work.
They set up a cycle of deprivation and frustration that can lead to yo-yo dieting, binge eating and weight gain instead of weight loss.
Dieting is an unnatural act; healthy bodies are hard-wired to stay as they are even if they’re overweight. The key is to stop dieting, start eating and learn to steal excess weight from your body without getting caught.
It isn’t always easy, nor is it fast, but it can be done. Here are four healthy eating and “diet” tips to try.
1. Be honest. Take a hard look at what you eat right now (including snacks and drink). Don’t forget portion sizes.
“Initially I suggest people write down everything they eat after they eat it so they get a true picture of then intake,” says Rosie Schwartz, consulting dietitian and nutritionist in Toronto, and author of The Enlightened Eater’s Whole Foods Guide.
2. Educate yourself. Be aware of recommended food groups and meal balance.
“A healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies and whole grams, plus lean meats and dairy, fills you up with fewer calories,” says Rachel Brandeis, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
She says to cut out foods with little nutritional value, such as potato chips, and replace them with raw veggies and dip.
And watch that you don’t fill up on calorie-heavy but nutrient-poor drinks like soda or sweetened tea. Drink water instead or, if you must have juice, opt for 100 percent unsweetened fruit juice.
3. Eat often. Eat every three or four hours. Watch portion sizes, but don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
Eating a proper breakfast kick starts your metabolism and you’ll be hungry three or four hours later, which Schwartz says is a good thing. “People need to get used to the pattern of genuine hunger and satisfaction.”
4. Consider your lifestyle. No one eating plan is right for everybody. You need a balanced solution you can live with for life. Don’t deprive yourself, because “you set yourself up for failure that way,” says Brandeis.
If pizza on Friday is important, work it in but don’t try to save calories. “Eat sensibly that day, have a big bowl of brothy soup before the pizza and then enjoy a few slices,” advises Schwartz.
Going for a decadent lunch? Have a healthy afternoon snack like an apple a few hours later. Then eat a lighter dinner
“If you skip the snack to save calories, by dinner you’ll have worked up a whole new appetite,” Schwartz says, “and that light dinner may not be enough.”
Or if you’re like many of us and you skip your snack and dinner too, you’ll be raiding the fridge later. [source: Costco Connection]
Note: Healthy Eating and Diet Tips: Part 2 with four more tips will be posted tomorrow.
Update: Healthy Eating and Diet Tips: Part 2 has been posted.