Before you read this post, keep in mind that this information is very general and is meant for most, but not all. Some individuals have specific symptoms and/or disorders that would require a customized plan to meet their needs.
Ah, January (big sigh…). The beginning of the new year and time to reflect on our health, our weight, our exercise, and more. Now that we are just at the end of the month, many of you have probably been experimenting with some sort of diet in the last few weeks. How’s it been going? Was it the Keto? The Grapefruit diet (circa 1930s)? Whole 30? So many to chose from. But which one is the right one for you?
I would actually encourage you to view your answer to health and wellness, which often can mean the loss of some weight, in a different way. Often the issue for some of those who “go on” a diet is that eventually, they will “go off” the diet. And what does that mean? Is it back to life as they used to know it? If so, then it’s back to the health that they used to know as well.
So instead of jumping on the latest craze, focus on implementing some new habits that will make positive changes over the long haul. And since it takes 3 weeks to form a habit, I would recommend that you make of list of goals you feel would improve your health and strive to implement 1-3 of those every 3 weeks. Once the 3 weeks is up, continue with the new habit and pick 1-3 more goals to work on. Continue until you have worked on all of the goals that you have met, continue meeting those goals, and possibly create a new list that you can be working on. Here is a list of ideas to get you going.
- Make half of what you eat to be fruit and (mostly) vegetables. These are great for weight management, but also a powerhouse of nutrition that will help in keeping chronic illness at bay. And eat a rainbow of colors!
- Make sure that your casual plates and bowls (those that you use on a daily basis) are of moderate size. We eat with our eyes so if you have an enormous plate and only put a small portion of food on it, you may feel deprived. A good standard size is a plate with a diameter of no more than 9 inches. The caveat here is if you are 6 ft 9 in then go ahead with a larger plate, and if you are 5 feet tall, then even smaller than 9 inches would be more appropriate.
- Eat close to the source. That means eating whole, real foods, and avoiding foods that are highly processed (i.e., the ones found in boxes with ingredients that you do not recognize or that you can not pronounce).
- Chew your food! Food should not be swallowed in chunks but in a liquified state. It helps your digestive system as well as slows down your rate of consumption. It takes the brain 20 minutes to realize that the stomach is full so the slower you eat the more satisfied you will feel by the end of your meal.
- Go grocery shopping at least once a week. Get this on your calendar and stick with it. It’s difficult to eat healthy when all the produce is either gone or rotting in the produce drawer.
- Be mindful of how you are feeling and your hunger and satiety cues. That means turning off the TV and other distractions and focusing on your food. Give thanks and be grateful. Smell your food. Savor your food. It will be more satisfying!
- Plan for 3 meals a day, and a couple snacks if you are hungry.
- Don’t eat after dinner. If you feel a need for something, enjoy a cup of herbal tea. My favorite? Twinning’s Honey Vanilla Chamomile.
- Pay attention to your hunger and do not restrict yourself from eating when your body is telling you that it needs food. Believe it or not, this type of behavior can lead to eventual weight gain with a slowing of the metabolism.
- Do not completely deprive yourself. Consider the 90/10 rule. Try to make your diet 90% whole and healthy so that you will have some room to indulge on that special occasion.
- Get active! If your doctor says it’s OK, the recommendation for exercise is at least 150 minutes per week, and two sessions of weight-bearing activity.
- Get your sleep! If you have a set time that you have get up each morning, try to get into bed 8.5 hours prior. You will then at least be getting about 8 hours of sleep (granted you do not have sleep issues). Keep in mind that there is an inverse relationship between weight and sleep. Those getting the higher amounts of sleep tend to weigh less, and those getting less sleep tend to weigh more.
These are just a few tips to start you on the road to wellbeing and healthy weight. And if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to your friendly dietitian nutritionist, and contact me!