It’s hard to avoid the word “diet” this time of year. A common New Year’s resolution after a season of holiday indulgence, stories about fitness and dieting seem to gloss every magazine headline and feature on every tv news segment. The new year is certainly a great time to start afresh; but constantly striving to “diet” has proven time and again to fail. Why don’t “diets” work? Because life – and the foods we have access to on a daily, livable basis – is not such an easy thing to contain in one rigid formula. Life is complicated, time is sparse – and our choices in a crunch are often limited.
There is one, small and steadfast choice you can try to make: Instead of perpetuating the vicious cycle of restricting and splurging, counting calories, or feeling guilty every time you skip the gym – consider the word “diet” to simply mean living a general lifestyle of nutritious foods you should strive to consume regularly – such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetable, whole wheat carbs – and largely unprocessed foods (when “unprocessed” isn’t an option, opt for foods with as few ingredients available). Importantly, always leave yourself room for the occasional treat. Guilt only begets bad behavior in the future! Denying yourself any particular type of food will only leave you craving, crashing, over indulging, and feeling ashamed; essentially ruining the goal you set for yourself. So don’t set yourself up to fail by placing an unhealthy, unrealistic standard on your body and cravings.
Adopting a life-long habit of clean, moderate and nutritional eating is one New Year’s resolution you can actually stick to – because it is flexible, practical, and leaves room for diversity in your diet. As for making those healthier choices when you’re on the go? Here are a few tips:
-Always keep a few low-to-un-processed snack foods in your bag or desk at work, so you aren’t forced to make high-sugar/sodium/crap choices from vending machines or fast food joints.
-Eat out less! You are far more likely to consume more calories and preservative-laden meals at a restaurant. Time to start meal planning: the better prepared you are for the week, the less likely you are to splurge on empty calories or fast foods loaded with fat and additives.
-Make breakfast “a thing.” Don’t skip it or grab a cereal bar while running out the door – you’ll feel hungry all day if you do, and will be more likely to eat whatever catches your eye for a quick fix. Consider breakfast to be your temple for which the rest of the day builds upon, in lesser increments.
-Invest in a water bottle, and stay hydrated! We often mistake thirst for sweet or salty cravings. Filling up on water will help to curb your cravings. Water dense snacks like fruits and vegetable will also help you to say more full for longer periods of time- and is truly guilt-free splurging. If you are hooked on soda, plain and naturally flavored sodium-free seltzer can offer you the same crisp sparkle with all of the same benefits as regular water.
-Finally, if you are on social media, follow healthy, clean-eating food accounts like these ones on Instagram and ditch the celebrity or fitness model guru accounts. Don’t place unattainable pressure on yourself or your body. You might never be a fitness model (at least, not this year, per se!) but you can strive to be the best you ever! As a bonus, your cravings might just start to include things like avocado toast and soft-boiled eggs…
Happy New Year, Happy “Dieting”!