Overwhelmed with not knowing what to do about eating? Not sure which foods to avoid and which to consume more? Don’t know which of the myriad diet options to choose? Luckily there are strategies for eating healthy.
The basics are always the same: Eat more good stuff, less bad stuff, use more than you eat and move. That is it. As kids we know this, but as we grow up, we start making it more complicated, and might get lost.
Don’t get fooled by cunning marketers. It is easy to get excited about all the potential benefits and all that. The excitement is soon followed by overwhelming. Or, if you do get results more often than not, they aren’t sustainable, and you are soon to where you started.
Not created equal
All diets work. All diets help people lose weight. That, however, doesn’t mean all diets are equal.
Considering any diet, you should ask yourself two big questions:
- Can I execute this diet? Is it possible and realistic with my life circumstances? Does it include expensive and exotic ingredients I have to buy, always a warning sign, or do I have to maintain an unpractical eating schedule for my situation?
- Can I sustain the diet as my new way of life for the next 3-10 years? The question emphasizes wise choice. We can keep up anything for a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks is not enough for real changes. You might lose some weight in a couple of weeks, but if you then go back to your old habits, you will soon be where you started. You should see some results fairly quickly on any diet, but the real results come from changing habits.
The key is consistent effort over an extended period.
The problem rarely is about knowing what to eat. The problems are unhealthy habits, relying only on willpower for changes, and triggers that get us acting against our best intentions.
4 Strategies For Eating Healthy
- Get rid of unhealthy foods.
- Never go into a grocery shop hungry.
- Eat at regular intervals.
- Measure to manage
Get rid of unhealthy foods: Make sure you don’t have any crap lying around. Having unhealthy foods lying around your home is dumb; having them just in case of cravings practically ensures them.
Some people keep nuts, sweets and cakes lying around. You are bound to have some and sabotage your progress. The best option is to get rid of all the crap or at least hide them to a hard-to-reach place out of sight.
We all have our particular vices. You know yours. Get rid of the culprits in your environment, at home and the office. As a result, you will feel fewer cravings and get to enjoy a guilt-free feast at your cheat day, all while losing or managing your weight easier.
Place veggies and other healthy foods you need to eat more of, where you can stumble upon them. Cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, for example. You want to eat more of those with water, fiber, and not that much of those filled with calories. So, while macadamia nuts are healthy, it’s easy to overeat them since the fats pack quite of a calorie punch.
Never go into a grocery shop hungry: Most of us have probably made this mistake; Grocery shopping hungry is a terrible idea. You won’t buy foods your body needs and wants long-term. More often than not, you end up with a bunch of unhealthy snacks and maybe some healthy foods and a sense of guilt. Eat a moderate sized meal or a healthy snack every time before going shopping.
Eat at regular intervals: Eating schedules you feel comfortable with have more to do with habit than about any magical schedule. There are benefits for both intermittent fasting and small meals every 3 hours. In the end, deciding which is right for you is more about your mindset, your body, and your particular life than about one being ultimately better. The best advice is to experiment with different schedules; for a couple of days, eat small meals of veggies, protein, and slow carbs every 3 hours. Note your energy levels, concentration, and overall happiness during. Try prolonging the fasted state in the morning for a couple of days. Don’t eat any breakfast in the morning, but instead have plenty of water, coffee or tea, avoiding carbs or protein. Have your first meal at lunch. How does this type of schedule affect your energy, concentration, and overall happiness?
After you have defined the better strategy for you, you can start refining the schedules and meal compositions always to feel and perform at your best.
Measure to manage: Look at a scale every morning; Simple, but a great habit. The mere knowledge of your weight any given day and having to face the scale the next morning keeps you from binging too much.
Another useful measurement is to measure your waistline every day since the visceral fat is the most unhealthy one. Your weight can fluctuate quite a bit, but measuring your waistline gives a more stable measurement tactic. If the waistline is expanding, you know you have to make changes.
The third helpful measurement tool is to use a wall calendar for tracking your progress. Every day you avoid the bad stuff and eat according to the plan you get to mark the calendar with a big X. After few successful days, you don’t want to disrupt the beautiful row of X’s just because you crave some unsatisfying snack.
On cheat days, you can have the X there if you’ve been good for the previous six days.
Some people need to make sudden and drastic changes while others should ease into the change, making gradual shifts towards healthy living. It pays to know yourself. For me, the effective option is to go all in. I am not particularly good at moderation; all or nothing is the way to go. Knowing the strategies for eating healthy helps by identifying the crucial issues to focus on.
What changes do you need to make? What do you need to eliminate? Is there something you need to add? Remember, the harder it is, the stronger you will get by mastering the urges.