“I am going on a diet”. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I have heard these exact words uttered over and over again. And quite often from the same people.
So what happens next? The calorie counting starts. The daily morning weigh in. Salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You lose a bit of weight the first week or two, then it stops. Frustration sets in. You have deprived yourself of all the foods you love and eventually you crack. Pizza, burgers, cake, cookies. An all-out binge. The worst part of it is that you end up weighing more than you did when you started. Sound familiar?
Going cold turkey from eating the foods you love is a recipe for disaster. After a few days or a week, the boredom and monotony of eating these same tasteless foods over and over again starts to set in. It is inevitable. Before you know it, you are back to the usually low energy levels and excess bloating, and then the feelings of low esteem that accompany failure set in. None of this is necessary.
Too many of us focus on eliminating foods. We have been told that eliminating dairy, meat or grains is the ticket to getting lean. Unless you are highly intolerant or have a legitimate allergy that you have been tested for, I don’t recommend cutting these foods out. All it does is give you a smaller pool of foods to choose from. If you want to lose weight, you need a balanced diet full of nutrients to prevent disease and to ensure optimal energy and psychological well-being. Restricting ourselves makes it that much harder to comply. If there are certain foods that trigger a binge, such as those that are overly sweet or salty, you might want to avoid them. They are probably not going to help you accomplish your goals anyways.
Balance is the key. Get as many different food groups into your body as you can. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, try to get as many different colours into your shopping cart as possible. Especially dark greens and oranges. Go to the meat/fish counter and tell the clerk you want to try some different cuts of meat and find out what types of fresh “wild caught” fish they currently have in. Make a concerted effort to get out of your comfort zone.
You need to enjoy what you eat. I certainly do. If I don’t like something, I don’t eat it. There are some foods such as broccoli and cauliflower that I am not over the moon for, but I know how good they are for me, so they tend to be a lot more palatable when combined with a piece of fresh caught wild salmon and some summer squash. If there is any advice I can give to people with a sincere desire to lose weight, it is to focus on the quality of the food that you are eating first. I would sooner see a client eat a 600 calorie meal for dinner composed of nutrient dense meat and vegetables, as opposed to a 300 calorie slice of pepperoni pizza and a diet coke. Once you’ve figured that out, then you can start to place more of an emphasis on the amount of calories you are taking in. To this day, I have yet to see anyone get fat eating meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, minimally-processed dairy and whole grains.