Typically, when thinking of the word diet, we think temporary. Spring breaks, weddings and even weekend beach trips will motivate us to lose weight. Unfortunately, these short-term diets don’t work. They are unhealthy and once you stop them, the weight may come back. Studies show you’ll be heavier than when you started.
Instead of a diet, think about making a lifestyle change. This doesn’t mean you have to give up pizza, burgers, or even cookies. Eating is a big part of our lives and should be enjoyed. An important concept to understand is moderation. If you can’t live without pizza, eat it, just not everyday. Plus if you have it less, you’ll enjoy it more.
Going from your favorite unhealthy foods to healthier alternatives can be huge jump. Next time you are flipping through channels, try to find a makeover show. Many of these shows try and get people to completely change their eating habits in less than a week. While this may seem healthy, it probably won’t lead to any long-term changes. Put yourself in their shoes. What food do you eat that you know is unhealthy and really love? How would you feel if someone said you can’t ever have that food again?
An easier way to do it is gradually. Take a food you love and try to make it healthier (remember be better, not perfect). If you love pizza, instead of buying it ready-made, make it at home. There are easy to use crusts available at your grocery store. Add your own toppings, focusing on healthy options like veggies and cut back on the amount of cheese you use. If you love burgers, try using leaner beef such as 93% lean. Don’t go out, make it yourself. Homemade meals are almost always healthier than ones you get at a restaurant (fast food or not). If you do eat out, make healthier choices by skipping the bun and mayo. Substitute a salad for french fries (at least most of the time).
Another popular way to get healthier are fat-free or low-fat versions of food. Cheese, peanut butter and milk all have low fat or fat-free substitutes. Sometimes companies do a good job with taste and sometimes they don’t. In some cases it might not even be possible to get the same taste with all the fat taken out. This is why it is important to go down in steps. If your goal is to drink fat free milk but you’re using whole milk, don’t do it overnight. Take it in steps over the course of a few weeks. You won’t notice the difference in taste as much. The same goes for other dairy products. Also, if you just can’t stomach the fat free version, try the low fat version.
Most importantly, don’t ever deprive yourself of something you love. Sometimes we over indulge in what we enjoy. Instead of eating a large number of cookies, look at the nutrition label. Eat a serving and put the pack down.
Making gradual lifestyle changes can help ensure you reach and maintain your diet and weight loss goals.