A friend had a heart-to-heart with his doctor and realized it's time to get his diet in order. I'm not a fan of "diets," as they are generally doomed to fail. I’ve altered my diet over the years by watching what I eat and thinking differently about food. Knowledge and awareness lead to action without feeling restricted by a bunch of "no no" rules.
Here are some ideas as I gave them to my friend.
- Make your changes a little at a time. Your habits took decades to build; don’t expect to change them tomorrow.
- Don’t think “no.” That is, don’t think about what you can’t or shouldn’t have. Telling yourself no doesn’t work.
- Instead, think “yes.” What -can- you have?
- Eat consciously. Go buy yourself a really good apple and eat it without reading, watching TV, or doing anything else. Pay attention to the apple. A fine apple on a pretty fall day actually better than a fried whatever once you start paying attention.
- One of my rules is “only eat good food.” I will still have a hamburger but dammit, it will be a good hamburger. No way I will waste my hamburger treat on a McD or BK: I am having my burger at a place that makes them medium rare and fresh. When I started to focus on quality, I lost most of my interest in cheap chains. I am conscious of what I will get at the cheap chain, so it's really easy to drive on by. I don't feel like I am denying myself because I know I won't really enjoy what's there. When I do have a burger or fried whatever, it’s really good, and I savor every bite!
- Eat slowly to give your appetite gadgetry time to sense that you have eaten.
- Variety is your friend. Look up the “French paradox.” The essence is that the French and most Asians have good nutrition because they have varied diets. Americans have among the least varied diets in the world.
- Vegetables and fruits are your savior. Instead of taking things OUT of your diet, you can ADD things. Adding veggies and more variety mean you get to eat MORE! Eat things like apples and carrots all day, as much as you want! Buy expensive, great quality produce. Shop Farmer’s Markets. Treat yourself. It’s all so good once you get past the must-have-fried-crap programming.
- Sugar water is your biggest enemy. Cut out the soft drinks a little at a time. That includes diet drinks. And it includes fruit juices! Fruit juices are mostly sugar minus the fiber. Apple juice, orange juice, not good. Whole apple, orange good. Water, good.
- Do all this a little at a time. You can still eat whatever you like, just start to moderate.
- One mantra is Dr. Dean Edell’s “Eat whatever you like. Just not so much.” Another is Michael Pollan’s “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”
One more idea I will toss your way is a book recommendation: Sweet Fire by Mary Toscano.
The book focuses on carbohydrates. While weight loss is mostly a matter of calories in minus calories out, carbs affect how you metabolize and how your insulin works. Watching my carbs has made a big difference for me. Mainly, I avoid big loads of sugar and flour, white rice, etc. unless they are a part of a diverse meal with proteins and fat and fiber. Toast: Not good. Toast with bacon: Good. Well, not exactly but kind of. Juice: bad; whole fruit: Good.
It’s not a diet book! Just read it and let it change how you think, see how it alters what you eat.
Easy read, well written, strongly recommended.