It’s that time of year where people are starting to think up their New Year’s resolutions. A very common one is dieting. I don’t do diets, nor do I do New Year’s resolutions (if you really want to change something, the new year doesn’t have to be that moment, just saying). But I have been ‘on a diet’ and made a drastic lifestyle change almost 2 years ago and so I thought I would share what has helped me to stick to my diet and why I went on one in the first place.
1.) Decide why you want to diet
There are a number of reasons why you may want to change your diet. Maybe you want to simply shed some pounds, be fitter, be healthier or whatever. Having a reason (not a goal, but a reason) why you want to go on a diet can help you stay motivated for one. For me the reason has always been to be healthier and to no longer feel like c-r-a-p all the time. I found out wheat doesn’t agree with me in early 2013 and so I had to make quite drastic changes to my diet. Because I love bread, and pasta, and cookies, and store bought soup and… Well let’s just say it’s hard to find anything in a grocery store that does not contain wheat. So cutting out wheat was and is a challenge. But I go back to feeling bad very quickly after having too much wheat, so I have a good incentive.
2.) Find out why bad foods are bad for you
Read up on food in the most general scope. When it comes to food we are being lied to all the time, even by the people who tell you you’re being lied to. Find your own truth by experimenting with different foods. That’s how I found out it’s better for me to cut out wheat as much as possible. But the same goes for all things sugary. In my case, bad foods are a little bit more than fast food and sweet snacks. I also forgo anything that might be deemed healthy by most people. I’ve also done some experimenting with my sugar intake and if I limit it, I tend to feel better for longer. Foods are more satisfying and I don’t easily get cravings anymore.
3.) Taste buds need time to adjust
Food habits do not change overnight. You cannot expect to overhaul your way of eating in 2 – 3 weeks. No matter what diet you try to do, you need to realize that it will be a tough challenge. So don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s better to go slow and ease your way into it. I find it so much easier to stick to my diet when I’m at work because I bring my own lunch and simply steer clear of the cafeteria. On weekends and once during weekdays I allow myself to cheat and have something sweet. And when I crave that pizza, I will eat the pizza. Though I’ll most likely have to live with the consequences very soon after having it.
4.) Motivation = key
Trying to stay motivated is probably the hardest. In my case, it’s super easy as eating a roll of cookies will cause me such stomach pains that I will get sleepless nights. But I also have my weak moments. Just know that it’s that and start again the day after. Dieting is not a linear thing. For me anyway, it goes in cycles, but don’t feel bad if you skip a day. And if you’re trying to lose weight: don’t give up the minute the scales no longer go down. The reasons for weight gain and weight loss are manyfold, so don’t be too hard on yourself and keep it real. Which brings me to my next point.
5.) Diets are not for the short run
… But for the long run. A good proper diet is NOT a 3 week crash diet. No, it’s a lifestyle change. You need to implement a diet that you can keep up for the rest of your life. If you think it’s not feasible, then don’t even get started, because you’ll just end up disappointed, hurting your own ego and ending up in a downward spiral if you’re not careful. Make changes, but make them gradually. Start by cutting out one thing, then two, etc. Or go the other way round: cut out everything and then add things back in, but you need to know, or get to know, what it is you have to let go.
In any case, sticking to a diet is no ill feat. I still struggle almost every day. But I find it’s well worth it. My main mantra: if I don’t buy it, I won’t eat it. So that’s how I go about things, which leads to the following ‘diet’:
- Eat wheat free & low carb: my tummy does not like grains.
- Avoid a sugar rush, fatigue and hunger by staying away from refined and additional sugars as much as possible.
- Limit dairy intake. I have yoghurt for breakfast most days. I sometimes have goat’s cheese during lunch and I don’t really like milk. I only have milk when it’s warm in hot cocoa or when I make porridge. I have eggs once or twice a week for dinner, breakfast or lunch.
- Eat fruit 2x a day. I have my first piece of fruit first thing in the morning. Then I wait about an hour before having a proper breakfast.
- Have a glass of veggie juice before breakfast along with my piece of fruit. It’s filling, plus you have veggies with 3 meals that day.
- I have salads or meat/ veggie dinner leftovers for lunch.
- Make meals from scratch as much as possible.
- Focus on getting fiber, protein and fats from meat, dairy, eggs, veggies and fruit mostly. I supplement with a minimal intake of grains.
- To satisfy sweet tooth, have naturally sweet foods such as dried fruits, and dark chocolate.
- Have healthy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, cheese and veggies.
- Stay clear from any lowcarb/ gluten free/ diet specific foods. They are often filled with nothing but bad substitutes.
- I only drink water and tea.
Most importantly: care for what you put inside your body. Eat ‘real’ food as much as possible. Try to make sure that if you buy something packaged that it has no more than 2 – 3 ingredients and that none of them are sugar. I tried having UNOX chicken soup a few weeks ago when I was feeling under the weather and I was craving chicken soup. I used to love it a few years ago, but this time round I only had a few mouthfuls before I decided I didn’t like it. It tasted grossly sweet. In other words, my taste buds have adapted.
What are your New Year’s resolutions?