Many of us don’t admit to ‘dieting’ now. The number of Americans ‘on a diet’ has declined over the past 20 years, and yet the diet industry in this country is still a $40 billion business. Why? Because we still fall prey to the fads. Despite our good sense, we want the magic bullet.
While many people do lose weight on fad diets, research shows we usually gain it back, and then some. Why don’t fad diets work? Because we all want what we can’t have. And then we feel bad about ourselves when we give in to our cravings.
Guess what? You can have your cake and lose weight too. But here’s the catch: only a small piece, and you can’t eat cake all the time.
Here is a short, no-nonsense and fad-free guide to weight loss.
1. Be Real
Eat real food. Food you can imagine growing. Food that doesn’t necessarily require FDA approval. Real, whole foods are magical—they have nutrients and phytochemicals that can’t be replicated in a food lab. Aim to limit highly processed foods and skip the artificial sweeteners—they may actually make you crave more food. Why? Because our bodies are smart, and we’re not satisfied until we get enough nourishment. When we eat real food, we feel satisfied and nourished.
2. Eat Often
Food is our body’s fuel, like the gas we put in our gas tank. Skipping meals (especially breakfast!) can make you run out of gas, leaving you tired, irritable and hungry! Nourish your body every three to five hours with mini-meals that contain a good source of protein, carbohydrates with fiber, and good quality, heart healthy fat.
3. Size Matters
A good rule of thumb is that half of every meal (yes, even breakfast!) should be non-starchy vegetables and some fruits. The rest of your meal should contain a little carbohydrate with fiber—generally whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables—and a little protein and healthy fat. Portion size matters. The tricky part is figuring out the portion sizes that are right for you and your activity level. This takes practice, and learning how to recognize when you’re full. Which brings us to…
When was the last time you sat down to a meal and just…ate? Ate without checking the flash sales or paying bills, no television or Twitter? Being present while eating is so important. Every time you eat, take a moment to breathe. Pause, take a deep breath and connect yourself to your body and the present moment. Notice how you are feeling. Listen to your body signals. Connecting to your body, your body sensations and your feelings takes practice. A lot of practice. But if you pause, breathe, and listen each time you eat, you will learn to understand your body, and your own hunger and fullness.
5. Be Nice to Yourself
There are going to be some days when you eat too much and some days when you eat too little. Or exercise too much, or too little. Or have cake for breakfast. That’s okay. It’s part of being human. It’s part of life. Remind yourself that you are absolutely a perfectly imperfect version of you. Be nice to yourself. Your body hears everything your mind says, after all.
Lisa Samuel and McKenzie Hall are Registered Dietitians Nutritionists passionate about inspiring people to eat real food and share it with those they love. Lisa and McKenzie believe eating well isn’t about what you can’t eat –it’s about what you can eat! You can find more of their (non)diet advice on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!