One of the biggest challenges people face when it comes to developing a healthier lifestyle is not exercising more, but creating and sticking with better eating habits. The main place we go wrong is falling victim to the “diet,” instead of making a long-term lifestyle change.
Diets trick us into thinking that faster is better; the less we eat the faster we lose weight. However, many studies show that faster weight loss tends to lead to even faster weight gain. While we do need to be in a caloric deficit to shed body fat, refusing our body an adequate amount of calories often results in massive cravings. We then “fall off the wagon” by eating sugary, high-carb foods and throw all our healthy habits out the window. So how do we avoid this?
- Make small maintainable changes.
There are some people looking to get very specific results who can jump right into a more disciplined meal plan, but for the vast majority of those simply wanting to be healthier overall the best approach is to make small changes, focusing on a longer-term goal.
Examples of this could be: increasing our servings of vegetables from 1 a day to 3, drinking at least 8 glasses of water, nixing the extra salt on our food, pre-packaging small snacks such as a handful of nuts and an apple to avoid a trip to the vending machine at work, and always eating something for breakfast.
- Swap your favorite foods for more nutritious options.
There are tons of great recipes and food swaps to make our home-cooked meals a little better for us, but still taste great and keep us excited to eat them.
Swapping processed foods for whole foods, like adding fresh fruit instead of juice to smoothies, or using whole wheat bread instead of white, can make a huge difference to our health in a very short amount of time. Choose lean cuts of meat, fresh produce, healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, and whole grains such as sweet potato, steel cut oats, brown rice and quinoa.
Ask us about Seton Medical’s Food and Fitness Forum, held the first Thursday of every month at 12pm in the ASYMCA Wellness Center’s kitchen!
- Find the balance.
We tend to put foods into categories as “good” or “bad.” The good foods are the healthy whole foods we know will get us to our goals and provide our bodies with nutrients, while the bad foods are generally junk food, sweets, and high-carb high-fat meals. While the goal is to eat as many whole foods as we can, it is important to find balance and moderation in our lives so we can sustain our new healthy lifestyle in a positive way.
Generally an 80/20 nutrition plan is a great place to start. 80% of the week consists of portioned out meals with lean protein, vegetables, some healthy fats and whole grains. The other 20% of the week includes a few treats and maybe a meal out.
Having a small bowl of our favorite ice cream, or a few pieces of dark chocolate 1-2 times a week will not ruin our goals. If we work hard through the week and stay on track with our nutrition, come Friday night we can enjoy a good meal at Buffalo Wild Wings with our friends, and still continue making progress the next week.
If you’d like more tips to aid you in your lifestyle change come and speak to any of our Wellness Staff at any of facilities.