There are about a million diets out there. Some promise fast weight loss and others guarantee rock hard abs in just one week. Some diets are low carb, some are low fat, others are gluten free or are vegan…some even tell you that you can lose weight fast without working out (WHAT!? But WHY!?). Okay, so you get the idea…the list goes on and on. But you know what the bottom line is? “Diets” don’t work. Some may provide you with that initial, quick weight loss, but almost always you’ll quickly regain the (mostly water!) weight you lost…and usually more.
Why don’t diets work? Mostly it comes down to the fact that cutting out foods for good just isn’t really sustainable, nor is it a good idea (unless you’re allergic). Health should be about balance and moderation. Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight should be a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. LIFEstyle meaning, something you can LIVE with, for LIFE. Yes…like, forever. It may sound intimidating at first but that’s what you have to find what works for you and ditch the crazy fad diets. If you make changes that you can sustain long-term, that’s when you’ll finally be successful and stop the yo-yo weight gain and weight loss cycle.
So how do you do this? Where do you start? Well…let’s talk about it.
Eat A BALANCED Diet…NOT a RESTRICTIVE “Diet”
Like mentioned above (unless you’re allergic) there is no reason to cut out entire food groups. Every food group has important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Carbs provide us with energy, protein helps with healing and muscle building and fats help protect our vital organs and help us to absorb and metabolize certain vitamins and minerals…and that’s just the beginning. Starches like whole-grain breads and pasta contain fiber and various vitamins and minerals as well as carbs for energy and fueling our BRAINS. Kind of important, right? Lean meats like chicken provide a lot of protein for building our muscles and fish provides protein as wells beneficial fatty acids. Fruits and veggies are packed with fiber to help with controlling blood sugar, reducing cholesterol and providing tons of essential vitamins and minerals. Healthy fats like nut butters, avocados and olive oil provide that fat that we need for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and are a great condensed source of energy. Dairy foods like low-fat greek yogurt and milk contain again, tons of protein and important minerals like calcium and vitamin D that are so important for bone health. So…have I convinced you yet? My point is…you don’t need to cut out any food group. You just need to be balanced. If you eat too many carbs or too much protein or go overboard with the dairy…yes, it can be a problem but if you just stay balanced and fit all the food groups into your diet you’ll get everything you need and won’t miss out on any important nutrients.
Another reason not to cut out foods is…it’s usually not sustainable. I love cookie dough. Is it healthy? Well no. Should I eat it every day? No. But could I go the rest of my life without it? Um…I don’t want to! If we cut out our favorite “unhealthy foods” it may last for a week, or even a month…but eventually most of us will eventually give in, and when you’ve been depriving yourself of certain foods for a long time the reality is, you’ll probably end up binging. After binging you’ll probably feel like you’ve failed and vow to start over and never do it again…and the cycle continues. How about instead, you allow yourself to have your favorite treats from time to time so that you don’t feel deprived, but you limit them so they don’t inhibit your weight loss goals?
I often talk to my patients and clients about the “80/20 Rule”. 80% of your foods should come from healthy, whole, real foods and 20% can come from the less-healthy indulgences and treats. This is balance. This is what words. This way you are able to eat healthy most of time and feel great and lose weight but you also know that if you really want some nachos at the ball game or ice cream with friends…you can have it and you don’t have to feel guilty and binge! You just enjoy your treat, love every bite and then get right back to eating your healthier foods.
This is a concept that takes practice and isn’t always just easy at first, but I promise it is what works. So remember…find balance. Stop trying to fit into some nutrition and diet mold and do what works for you. Focus on healthy foods and let yourself live life and enjoy a cupcake every once in a while! You’ve got this!