It’s no longer news that when you eat healthily, you have more energy, improve your health, and boost and improve your mood. But a lot of us associate eating healthily with very stringent dietary restrictions, being an unrealistic size zero, and being deprived of those foods that we love. This immediately makes the majority of us overwhelmed. When we then take into account all the conflicting diet and nutrition advice that is out there, planning and sticking to a healthy diet can be a nightmare, not to talk of enjoying that diet.
Using these following simple tips, you can cut through the beldam and learn how to plan and commit to a healthy diet. We’ll also show you not just to plan and stick to your healthy diet, but to enjoy it as well.
First definitions first
What exactly is a healthy diet? Is it a diet that is filled with strict limitations, one that is overly complicated, or one that exalts foods that are as bland as cardboards? Definitely not.
As per our definition, a healthy diet is simply one that is as close to nature as possible, and one that strives to incorporate real natural food in place of processed food. A healthy diet consisting of mainly natural foods has been shown to have a huge advantageous impact on how we feel, look and even think.
To stay healthy, we all need the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Many a fad diets have risen in popularity advocating the banishment of a particular food nutrient group from a daily diet. We have in the past had no carb diets, no protein diets, no fat diets, but these fad diets do way more harm than they do good. Their failures lies in their ignoring of the basic nutrients that we all need in our diets to sustain a healthy body.
Planning a healthy diet
If you are looking to either lose weight or maintain an ideal body weight and you are working on a healthy diet that is easy to follow, here are the things you need to know:
- Do not eliminate certain categories of food from your diet. Your focus instead should be on selecting the healthiest option from that food category. For example, you may want to go for brown rice instead of swinging to the extreme of cutting all carbs from your diet.
- Don’t plan to change everything about your previous lifestyle all at once, as this usually only leads to cheating. For those who don’t cheat, giving up on the new eating plan becomes very easy. Your focus instead should be on making a few lifestyle changes at a time. Plan to implement your healthy diet plan in small incremental steps. For example, your first goal may be adding a salad to your diet once a day. Once that has become a habit, you may want to tackle the goal of replacing sugar with honey.
- Don’t over complicate things by becoming a fanatical calories counter. Instead, your focus should be on viewing your healthy diet in terms of variety, color, and freshness, and replacing packaged and processed foods with fresh ingredients whenever it is possible.
Enjoying your diet
To enjoy your new healthy diet, you need to give yourself the same range of variety you did when you were not actively pursuing a healthier diet. This means that all your food categories from before should remain in your new diet. As previously mentioned, all you need to do is to choose the healthier versions of such categories. This is what you should be eating:
- Protein: Protein should be the mainstay of any diet, as it gives the human body the energy to function. It also boosts our mood and plays a huge role in our cognitive function. Protein helps with weight loss and with maintaining a healthy body weight by increasing our feeling of fullness, thereby curbing our appetite and decreasing our calorie intake while simultaneously increasing our metabolic rate. The more natural forms of protein you should aim for are whole eggs, lean meat, seafood, milk and cheese.
- Good fat: Not all fats are created equal, and what you should try to avoid is the bad fats that amps the risk of certain diseases. Include good fats such as omega-3s in your everyday diet, as they protect the brain and heart and are beneficial to physical and emotional health.
- Fiber: Fiber helps with weight loss, as it slows down the digestion and the absorption of nutrients in the stomach, making you feeling full for longer and leading to a reduced appetite. Fiber is naturally occurring in grains, vegetables, nuts, fruit, and beans, so these foods should be incorporated into your eating plan.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs, when taken in moderation, are incredibly important as they are one of the body’s main sources of energy. The idea however is to source your carbs from complex, unrefined sources such as vegetables, fruit and whole grains rather than from sugars and refined carbs.
- Calcium: Getting enough calcium in your diet significantly reduces the risks of anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, as well as your chances of developing osteoporosis, no matter the age or gender. Getting enough calcium in a diet also means that you have the bone density to stick to any exercise regiment that you may include as part of your weight loss/maintenance plan.
Sticking to your healthy eating plan
The odds are; if you enjoy what you are eating, you are likely to keep eating it. So, if you include all food categories in your diet and don’t deprive yourself of any particular one, but rather focus on choosing the healthier alternative of that food category, you are more likely to enjoy your meals. And if you enjoy your meals, you are more likely to stick to that diet plan.
Planning, enjoying and staying committed to a healthy diet (or at least a healthier one than you are currently on) is indeed possible. The key is to keep it simple, not overwhelm yourself with too much, too soon; and to make sure you are not depriving yourself of what your body needs to function optimally.