Surely you’ve noticed there’s constantly new advice, a new diet plan, or new research findings. Have you ever heard or tried to follow any of the advice below?
- Eat less fat
- Limit your carbs
- Consume fewer calories
- Control your portion sizes
- Don’t eat after 7pm
- Eat every 2 hours
- Eat more protein, or don’t eat meat etc…
People have lost weight and maintained a healthy weight on a wide variety of eating plans and following completely different “rules”. So how do you find out what will work for you?
Although it may seem easier to have someone “just tell me what to eat”, this usually isn’t a long-term solution. Everyone’s body is different. There actually is some trial and error involved in determining what you can and can’t eat to successfully maintain your weight and energy level.
After looking at many diets, here are three keys I find in common for long-term success. And I mean your diet is what you eat, not a temporary plan to lose weight.
1. Eat whole, natural foods
I know there have been people who have lost weight on fast food and junk food diets, but the common denominator to the majority of healthy eating plans is that they cut out the processed, packaged foods and rely on whole, natural foods.
In my opinion, the key is not necessarily counting calories or cutting out sugar or fat. The key is to get rid of the chips, crackers, desserts, packaged stuff…everything you know isn’t good for you. I would also caution you not to eat too much of even seemingly healthy packaged foods, like the bars that supposedly have antioxidants, fiber, and every trendy supplement crammed into them.
It’s true what they say: we’re a nation that is overfed and undernourished. It’s not just about calories or fat grams, we need the nutrition that natural food provides in order to fuel our bodies.
You’ve heard it before: shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and meats and low-fat dairy – and I personally very much believe in eating organic, grass-fed, free-range animal products.
2. Eat moderately and mindfully
When you eat too much, even of healthy foods, it will eventually disrupt your body’s natural signaling mechanisms and hormonal balance. We also create bad habits when we shovel our food down while multitasking or in response to stress or habit.
Stop eating in front of the TV or computer. Really pay attention to what you’re eating, how it looks, how it tastes, how your body feels, and stop before you get too full.
I’ll be honest with you, I eat some type of unhealthy sweet (usually candy or cookie) almost every day. But I don’t eat the whole bag, and everything else I eat is pretty healthy. This brings us the final point…
3. Balance, Attitude, and Consistency
Here’s what you should eat: oatmeal and scrambled eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, fish and vegetables for dinner, fruits/veggies/nuts for snack. It’s a good plan, the hard part is doing it consistently. What about your upcoming dinner out? Or your birthday? Or you’re bored sick of salmon?
The key is balance and overall consistency. It won’t kill you to eat some “junk” as long as the majority of your diet is consistently healthy and you’re consistently active and exercising. Balance.
Your attitude towards food and your body and how you cope with stress are some of the most important components to your long-term success. You’re sabotaging yourself if you
- Feel your diet has to be all or nothing (you have to wait to eat nutritious foods until you “start a diet” and the second you eat a cookie, you give up everything for fast food)
- Feel guilt or shame about what you eat, or are overly proud of yourself for strictly controlling your diet
- Constantly jump from one diet plan/book to another, and try to overhaul your diet based on every article you read in a magazine
We all have a comfort zone for eating. Rather than try and completely conform to someone else’s plan or advice, try to incorporate one new change each week. Some ideas:
- Find one new healthy dinner recipe to cook each week
- Buy a new fruit or vegetable, or one you haven’t eaten in a long time
- Replace one healthier item or habit: ice water instead of soda in the afternoon, fruit instead of ice cream after dinner, eating without the TV
Focus on positive changes, what you can live with for a lifetime, and being consistently healthy overall. Be balanced and fill yourself up with the right things. As much as we should work to eat healthy, remember that, Life is more than food (Luke 12:23).
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life. John 6:27-35