The New Year has just begun and for some people, the new diet resolutions they made have already gone by the wayside. Here’s my 2011 mantra: Resolve not to start on another diet this year! Coming from a nutrition professional, I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I have some very good reasons for saying this.
Diets, as we know them in the traditional sense, (i.e. caloric or food restrictions) simply do not work. Being successful at weight loss is never about placing unsustainable restrictions on you. If you have been on various diets in the past, remember that you were most likely unable to stick with the plan for very long, and once you stopped the plan, you regained the weight. If you just came across a “new” diet plan to try, and think this will finally be the one that works, think again. It’s very hard to stop giving into the dieting mindset altogether, but I encourage you rethink your ideas about weight loss and approach this difficult task in a new way.
Keep your eating clean: Clean eating is not a diet but more a way of life. It is based on the idea that the best way to eat is to abundantly enjoy whole foods. Whole foods are as close to their natural state as you can get them. In other words, the processing of the food is minimal. Clean eating calls for eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged, processed foods or fast food. Saturated fats are replaced with the healthy fats found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Fruits & Vegetables: Choose fresh produce over canned fruits and vegetables or juices.
Use Whole Grains over Processed Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, barley, or whole grain bread are just a few examples of how you can incorporate more whole grains. Limit use of refined grains as much as possible. A clue that a grain product has been refined or processed is when “enriched” flour is listed as a prominent ingredient.
Eat lean meats, fish or poultry. Don’t forget to include legumes (beans and lentils) as an alternative source of protein. Legumes are a wonderful, often overlooked whole food with lots of possibilities. Try having meatless meals using legumes as a protein source 2 or 3 times weekly.
Replace sweetened beverages with water: Drinking water instead of soda or bottled iced tea has the potential to save a great many calories as well as reduce your overall sugar intake.
Trade bad fats for good fats: Sticking with lean protein sources and limiting fast food are the quickest ways to get saturated fat out of your life. Moderate amounts of nuts or seeds are a good way to include healthy fats.
Don’t call this a diet: Stop thinking of how you eat as a diet! Instead, change your mindset and make a healthy eating plan your goal. Incorporating the simple, clean eating principles listed above can help you get closer to this ideal. Besides losing the extra calories, additives, fat and sodium that come with processed foods, your way of life becomes a bit greener too! The clean foods come without lots of packaging! Finding clean foods requires a simple sweep around the perimeter of your grocery store or a visit to your local farmers market.
Need some help with this? Learn From a Nutrition Professional: Changing eating habits is often easier said than done. One way to find strategies that will work for you is to discuss your goals with a nutrition professional. Choose someone with the expertise to point you in the right direction. A Registered Dietitian (RD) has the skills to help you develop healthy eating and lifestyle goals, and can teach you strategies for reaching those goals.
Keeping it clean and simple is a much easier way to tackle the business of weight control. You will feel better, look better, and actually be able to eat an abundance of healthy foods. By following the tips outlined here, you can start to celebrate the benefits and success that come with healthy eating. That’s much better than another year of abandoned New Year’s resolutions!
A 2019 Gretchen Scalpi.