Every year, thousands of people vow that “this will be the year”, they’re going to lose weight, go to the gym everyday, look like a supermodel and the rest of their magical Hollywood dreams will come true.
But honestly now… how often does that actually happen? You may have experienced a few years (or a few decades) of New Year’s resolutions, and more often than not it is a challenge to live up to one or two grandeur plans.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a positive change in your life. Eating healthier can have unbelievably beneficial effects for you. However, going on another restrictive and unrealistic diet plan will ultimately fail you in the long run.
Examples of restrictive diets:
1. No Carb Diet
2. No Fruit – too much sugar
3. Don’t eat after 6pm
4. Don’t snack between meals
In this blog post we’re going for healthy, lifelong changes. Think about this as changing your old habits into healthier habits.
Why diets fail
We are creatures of habit, and therefore drastic abrupt changes may not sit well with us. But, if we slowly add healthier foods into the diet, we will begin to weed out some of the bad ones without the feeling of missing out.
Diets simply just don’t last (and they make you eat more)
As we all know, the minute you start telling yourself you can’t eat something, you immediately want to go out and buy ten boxes and stuff your face just because you can. Instead, try telling yourself you don’t want that cinnamon roll, because you want something else more (to be healthy, to get in shape, etc.). Test your hunger with the thought of a healthy substitute, a banana, for example.
Diets often appear as “all or nothing” which is not the case at all. If you wind up scarfing down a jelly donut before class, don’t fret! As long as you don’t eat 5 more donuts that morning you’re going to be okay.
“Weight gain doesn’t happen overnight, and neither will weight loss”
Diets make you tired
With most fad diets, they focus on restricting one food group, so that you can feel like you’re allowed to eat more of the “allowed” foods. This is a ridiculous idea because you’re body NEEDS three major food groups to function.
1. Carbohydrates (think brown rice, fruits, oatmeal)
2. Fat (think avocado, nuts, dairy)
3. Protein (think beans, soy, fish, chicken)
Without consuming these three critical food groups for any extended period of time you’re going to wind up missing a few key components that your body uses to create energy, including your brain function. Worst of all, restricting food groups can cause your body to actually break down your muscle mass to create energy. And unfortunately it’s more likely do to this before it burns off that nice layer of winter hibernation you’re trying to get ride of.
The new approach to dieting = Eating and Living Healthy
Why should I eat healthy?
Here are some facts for you to consider:
• Diet is the #1 cause of cancer, even before tobacco and radiation.
• A healthy diet can alter cancer at any stage.
• About 35% of all cancer deaths are related to poor nutrition.
• Heart Disease (where your heart is actually broken) has been the leading cause of death since 1900, with the exception of World War 2.
• Heart disease is directly related to the food you eat (or don’t eat).
• 30% of adults in the US have the heart disease called hypertension – the silent killer: causes heart attacks & strokes without warning signs that result in death, coma, and disability.
What is the result of diet related diseases? To name a few…
• Lack of energy,
• trouble breathing,
• can’t walk or exercise,
• fluid retention,
• chest pain,
• weight gain,
• joint pain,
• high blood pressure,
• blindness, and
Okay you’ve convinced me! But what is healthy?
Eating healthy is more than just avoiding the snacks and drive-ins. Here are three steps on the path.
Step 1: Set Realistic Goals!
Don’t go trying to change your whole darn life around right this moment. This will only leaving you feeling overwhelmed by trying to accomplish a lengthy list of goals. Eating healthy is NOT supposed to be a task, chore, or burden on your life. Consider this; it will be easy.
Step 2: Erase Your Brain (sort of)
It’s safe to say, ignore almost everything you’ve ever learned about going on a diet, it’s probably bogus and will only interfere with your attempt to live a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking for supplemental reading on this topic, and almost everything discussed in this article, there’s an excellent book that goes into way more detail called Intuitive Eating by authors, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole.
Step 3: Put Your Thinking Caps On
Before we start talking about what foods to eat, what’s the healthiest, how much should I eat, when should I eat and all of those little details, I want you to just start thinking about your current lifestyle. Take a mental note, write a diary, and do some serious introspection. Turn off your iPhone (or at least put it on silent) and ask yourself these important questions:
• Why do I want to lose weight/get fit?
• How can I realistically achieve these goals?
• What do I see my life like after achieving my goals?
• What have I tried in the past that did not work?
• What is stopping me from getting there?
• How can approach & conquer these barriers?
• What am I doing currently that I know is an unhealthy habit?
• Why do I choose the foods and beverages I consume?
• When and why do I eat?
• How do I feel when I eat?
• Do I enjoy my meals?
• How much time do I spend at meal times?
Start thinking about all the factors in your life that play into these questions, and your relationship with food. Go out and buy the book, Intuitive Eating, and read one chapter every night. Start by browsing the website too! (http://www.intuitiveeating.org/)
Read the 10 Principles that all will more than likely change your life and your relationship to food and fitness forever.
Stay tuned next month for when we will be diving into more specifics on healthy eating habits. For now, do some introspection and ask yourself the questions above.
By: Marissa Caldarella, Nutrition Intern, SDSU Student Health Services