If you’re like most people then you’ve probably tried at least one diet in your lifetime. With all of the external pressure in life to look good, as well as our own internal desire to get the body we want, short term diets often seem like the best option to achieve this.
The problem with diets is down to the fact that they are transient in nature.
If you think about it for a second, we’ll be eating food for the rest of our lives so why would you commit to a short term eating plan?
Unless you’re a competitive athlete who needs to make weight or a fitness model who needs to get 6 pack abs then dieting can be disruptive, cause more harm than good and create a negative obsession with food.
Sure you may get some good short term results, but the problem is, it’s quite likely they’ll exactly be that.
Eating well is often a behaviour and lifestyle issue, not a knowledge one.
Our behaviours dictate how we eat, food affects us all differently and the way we eat is often strongly linked to routine and emotions.
Because of this there is no one right way to eat, no matter what that expert tells you.
These habits aren’t meant to be rules or strict guidelines to abide by, but methods that you can incorporate into your daily eating.
The 6 habits
Have some protein with each meal
As well as all of the sciencey benefits, protein helps to fill us up and may help to raise our metabolism. With an abundance of easy and lean options it’s a good plan to get some in at each meal.
Aim for 1 palm sized portion for women and 1-2 for men at each meal time.
Opt for eggs, fishies, chicken, lean beef, turkey, game, lamb, nuts, beans, lentils and other legumes.
Go for less processed carbs
When I say less processed, I mean ones that haven’t been fiddled with as much and are in their whole state. Less processed carbs tend to be more nutritious than processed ones such as pasta and bread and may have a lesser impact on blood sugar levels.
Go for sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans, legumes, quinoa, rice, root vegetables, whole oats.
Aim for 1 cupped hand size for women and 2 for men.
Prioritising your carb intake after exercise (1-2hrs) is a strategy that may help them to be used better in the body.
Eat quality fats with each meal
Fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat as you may have been hearing a lot of over the last few years. This doesn’t mean you can just mindlessly consume as much as you want though. It’s still calorifically high, and having large portions won’t be the best for your health.
Having a thumbsized portion with each meal is a good option though.
Some good ones are, dry whole nuts, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, avocado and eggs.
This could be the most important habit of them all and it doesn’t even directly relate to carbs, fat or protein.
The aim of this habit is to pay attention to your body by raising your self awareness.
It’s easy to steam roll through our busy days without stopping to check in with our bodies and how they feel- tired, weak, strong, motivated, hungry, full etc. Going through our days quickly often means that quality food gets left behind and food is consumed in mere seconds.
Raise your awareness of what you’re eating, how hungry you actually are and how your body feels.
Slow down your eating. Eat until 80% full. Do a food diary for a day or 2 and assess if the food your eating is in tune with your goals. Before and after you eat, stop for a few seconds and try to tune into how you feel and how hungry you are-do you need more or less food?
Aim for long term steady consistency and small improvements compared to quick short bursts.
People succeed in the long term with weight loss and healthy eating by incorporating it into their lives and not creating overwhelm and burden with short term drastic changes or diets or quick fixes.
Make action your priority.
Even if that action is small, take that step and then move onto the next one. Maybe you could add a little bit more protein with your breakfast by adding some nuts or eggs. Then you could possibly walk just a little further each day. Then move onto the next and so on.
Health and fitness rarely has to be all or nothing. Do what feels achievable and keep expanding on this over time.
A good way to stay consistent over the long term is with some sort of support or accountability. Tell friends and family, hire a coach or a personal trainer or join a community of like minded people. Just attach yourself to some level of accountability.
Focus on doing good enough
Doing good enough is generally better than always aiming for perfection.
Perfection normally means rules, restriction and unnecessary stress, whereas good enough means doing enough for what you want to achieve and having a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
Relaxing your eating every now and again is a good strategy for long term sustainability and avoiding a sense of deprivation.
Maybe build in one day of relaxed meals, or 1-2 meals per week. Aim to raise your awareness of your eating if your relaxed meals are starting Friday night and ending Sunday night.
- Have a portion of protein with each meal
- Go for unprocessed carbs
- Have quality fats
- Pay attention-raise your awareness
- Be consistent over the long term
- Aim for good enough instead of perfection
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