When someone says the word “diet” most of us automatically think of the secondary definition of diet—a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. But today I’m talking about the primary definition, the kinds of food that a person habitually eats. When I think of the statement “I’m going on a diet” the words that come to mind are restrictive, difficult, stressful, bland, boring, etc.
Don’t these statements sound much better?
“I’m working on improving my diet” OR “I’m changing my diet to get more in line with my overall health goals.”
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I do not have a degree in nutrition. I’ve done a good amount of research. I’ve experimented with many different lifestyles (always for a short period of time because none of them are sustainable for me). I’ve put in the work. Through all that I’ve come up with the three principles of my food philosophy:
- Eat as many of your calories as possible. Powders, vitamins, bars should be used as supplements (when necessary), not as your meal. Eat real food!
- Nothing should be off limits—you can eat everything in moderation. Don’t be a no carb girl… nobody wants to go to an Italian restaurant with you.
- Eat in line with your goals.
Let’s dig into each one!
Eating Your Calories
I’ve gone through phases where I’ve had two shakes, two bars and a couple of small snacks per day and guess what? I was starving (surprise, surprise, right?!). During that phase I learned that eating as many of my calories as possible is not only physically more satisfying for me, but it’s mentally more satisfying too. Sitting down and chewing on food takes waaaaaay longer than drinking a shake. Your body has time to enjoy the eating process. You chew, you enjoy the flavors, you swallow, you (should) take a second and breathe and then go back for another bite. Eating becomes more of an event rather than “let me guzzle this shake so I can hustle to my next appointment/class/meeting” moment.
Plus I just think that it’s hard to get all the different vitamins and minerals you need from powders, shakes, bars, and pills. That’s why they should be used as supplements, when appropriate, but not as a replacement for real food, ya hear?!
I currently use a pre-workout powder and one scoop of protein powder per day. Snacks include carrots and hummus, string cheese and almonds, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and fruit. I eat real food for lunch and dinner. I don’t take any vitamin or other supplement pills.
Everything in Moderation
I’m a big believer that if you like something, you should be able to enjoy eating it—in moderation. I enjoy candy and ice cream. And I can and do enjoy both of those things. The goal is to try to enjoy both of them in moderation (which I’m pretty good at with ice cream) but in the “needs improvement” category for candy. But I’m better than I used to be so some progress is better than no progress! 😝
I’ve tried to cut out candy completely and all it’s done is make me want it more. I know that sounds familiar to everyone reading this because it’s a common theme in dieting. Restrict the bad foods until you cave and eat ALL THE BAD FOODS. And you start and stop the cycle like a billion times until you either recognize you should be able to have that food in moderation and find a way to do that OR you forget trying to make healthier habits and continue down the same path you’ve been on. Most of us end up doing the latter.
I believe in well-balanced meals that include proteins, fats and yes, CARBOHYDRATES! I secretly cringe when someone tells me they cut all fruits out of their diet because of the high sugar/carb content. Or they only eat 30g of carbs per day because they’re on a strict keto diet. I only offer my opinion if it’s asked but I know, from trying so many different diets, that none of them are truly sustainable for the rest of your life.
Eat carbs—mostly good carbs. But also free feel to indulge in the not-so-nutritious carbs every once in a while. Going on severe diets is not only physically draining but constantly thinking about it makes it mentally exhausting, as well.
Eating In Line With Your Goals
I am not going to tell you not to focus on the number on the scale or losing a certain amount of pounds because I’ve been there before. I know what it’s like to want to see a number. I get it. And I had to go through that phase before I moved onto the phase I’m in now which is really trying to fill my diet with healthy and nutritious food. But just keep in mind as you’re going through the process, the end goal should be to improve your overall health. The immediate goal might be to lose “x” amount of pounds so whatever you do to reach that goal should be things that are sustainable changes for the end result of living a healthier and more energized life. Make sense?
Instead of focusing on what you want to achieve (i.e. lose 10 lbs or have a six pack), ask yourself this question:
What am I willing to change/improve in my diet and what results will it yield?
The idea here is to consider what you’re actually willing to do. It goes back to the idea of wanting to want something but not actually wanting it enough to do anything about it. So think about what you’re actually willing to change, improve, add to your diet, or eliminate from your diet. Once you know what you’re willing to do and what results in will likely yield you can negotiate with yourself to find a good starting point.
And remember no change, or improvement, or addition, or elimination has to be 100% of the time. Instead of 5 caramel macchiatos per week, go for 3. And leave the rest of your diet and exercise regimen exactly the same. You will be consuming less calories and you will lose weight. It will be slow but it will be happen if you have patience.
Once you know what your goals are and you truly believe you’re onboard with doing the things you need to do to get there, DO THEM. And while you’re at it, do these things too:
- Be patient and kind with yourself. Lifestyle and dietary changes can be difficult. Don’t beat yourself up for the ups and downs you will experience. They are part of the journey. You’re not going to be your most healthy and fit self every season in your life.
- Focus on one thing at a time. When you make one small change it will make you feel good. And that good feeling will ignite you to make another small change. And so and so forth.
- Take your time. It’s not a race and it’s certainly not a competition. It doesn’t matter if it takes you 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years to get to where you want to be. Go at your own pace.
I would absolutely love to hear feedback on this topic because it is so so soooo important to me. What’s your food philosophy? 😉