Today it hit me like a roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris. Why are there so many diet books on the market? Do we honestly need 850 bazillion strategies to eat healthy? It's no wonder to me that so many of us either jump from idea to idea or are completely paralyzed by it all.
Have you ever been convinced that the latest idea is THE ONE? You know, you hear all about it, you buy the book, you stock up on supplies and groceries and supplements and you get started. Then it gets hard, or unreasonable, or your life takes an unexpected turn or maybe you're just flat out tired or unprepared. Suddenly it's not the one, because you can't do it, or you can't keep it up. So next thing you know, you're on the quest for the next one that must be the one, because your friend Barbie bought that other book you considered and it seems to be working for her. That's it! You just bought the wrong book. So you buy the next one, and all the marketing 101 students say "so that's how that works!"
How do you think I can describe this so well? Because I've done it! How many books on eating can we read and do? What to eat, what not to eat, when to cook it, how not to cook it, what to eat it with, what not to eat it with, what time of day to start eating, what time of day to not eat, what to not eat after 7pm, what to do in the morning before you eat, whether or not to eat or drink it cold or hot or lukewarm, raw or cooked, with the peeling or stripped naked, frozen, not frozen, fresh, processed, powder, liquid, solid, from the Atlantic or the Pacific, blended, pasteurized or not, organic or not, animal or vegetable, fat or carb? I could go on and on like a Dr. Seuss book.
We must stop the crash diets!!!
Here are some very basic principles I think we must start living by if we want to eat healthy and be able to keep our sanity at the same time:
Add what you need.
The dieting mentality starts with all the things that you can no longer have for the rest of your life. Instead of focusing on what you can't have, begin by thinking about what you should be eating. Add what you should be eating and let it push out the rest. Here are some examples:
- Eat breakfast every day
- Make sure your breakfast contains some protein
- Pair up sources of lean protein with your veggies/fruits/grains, every time you eat
- Get some healthy fat (think olive oil and almonds)
- Don't skip meals
- Eat about every 3 hours
- Drink some water!
Make a list.
Think in terms of these categories:
- Lean, natural protein, animal or plant-based
- Fibrous vegetables
- Fresh, whole fruit
- Fats such as nuts, seeds, healthy oils
- Complex starchy carbs such as whole grains
- Non-fat dairy
Now write down all the foods in each of these categories that you love (first) and like (second). Post it on your pantry door or fridge. Take it to the grocery with you. When you're planning your eating, refer to it.
Shoot for high compliance.
Now that you have your plan and your focus, your aim is to be compliant with it. Go into it with the mindset that you're going to fuel your body with food it can use effectively. If you eat about every 3 hours, and that ends up being about 5 times a day, hitting 90% compliance still gives you about 3 meals a week in which you can eat whatever you want without any kind of dieting guilt. (I would choose Mexican food, or 2 scoops of Ben & Jerry's triple caramel chunk in a waffle cup, but that's just me).
Clean it up.
Once you're focused on what you will be getting in each day, you're not starting out deprived, so it's easier to start pushing the other stuff out. There won't be any room for it if you start eating right! Here are a few examples of some obvious things to start eliminating:
- Fried food
- Fast food unless VERY strategically chosen
- Added sugar, salt and fats
- Processed food (things that come in a bag or box)
- High calorie, low return foods. These are the foods that fill you up like comfort food but give your body low quality fuel.
If we started eating this way, is there really any need for anything else? If I ate a baked chicken breast drizzled with olive oil and pepper, a small plain sweet potato with cinnamon, steamed broccoli and a handful of blueberries would my body be fueled? Yes. Would it be satisfied? Maybe not, if what I'm used to is pasta with cheese, garlic breadsticks, salad with Caesar dressing and croutons, key lime pie, sweet tea and then a row of Oreos (that is a serving, right?) before bed.
It's not easy, but it doesn't have to be so complicated! We must give our bodies fuel that it can actually use, along with water, throughout the day in reasonable portions so it can run like a well-oiled machine and meet our daily demands. If we don't, we have to be ready to face the consequences and side effects, and there's not a diet book on a bookshelf in America that can do that for you or me. Sounds harsh doesn't it? I'm convinced it's true.
What solutions have you discovered? Leave me a comment!