Despite having all these negatives attached to dieting, people still do it anyway! It may seem worth it to you at the moment; however, you are only recking havoc on your body (physically and emotionally). If you are wondering, "What do I do when I go off the diet wagon (permanently)," then keep reading because after my top 5 reasons for getting off the diet wagon you will see what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Without further adieu, here we go!
#1: End the horrible cycle of guilt
Scenario: You go to a friend's house for a party. There's chips, dip, desserts, etc (a diet-goer's worst nightmare). Unless you've brought your own stash of food, your surrounded by choices, and probably unhealthy ones. If you indulged in a few of these foods, you probably thought this at some point, "OMG. Tomorrow, I need to get back on my diet." Or you thought, "Well, there goes my diet for the day. I should just pig out now." Or you thought, "Great, there goes all my hard work into losing weight." Chances are that once you had those thoughts, you also had the wave of guilt. I'm saying this from experience too. I used to count calories, diet, and starve my body of the nutrients it needed. If I ever indulged in something I thought was "bad," I immediately gave myself the guilt-trip. I was mad at my lack of self control, upset at the amount of food, and saddened by the fact that food had more control over me than I did. END THE CYCLE OF GUILT!
#1: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
Scenario: You go to that same friend's house. You have a few desserts and you feel good about it! You know you ate healthy before you came and you know you'll be eating healthy tomorrow. It is not a big deal that you indulged and you move on.
#2: Get your metabolism back on track
When you go on a diet that cuts calories drastically, your body responds by holding onto its energy reserves. It does that as part of a defense mechanism from eons ago when we had periods of starvation. So, if you think starving yourself will make you lose weight, your in for a surprise. You'll probably lose a few pounds in the beginning; however, you will plateau. Your metabolism turns to sludge while your body works to maintain life. On the contrary, by feeding yourself the proper amount of food each day, your metabolism increases and is more efficient at burning calories. (Side note: your metabolism also increases via exercise, especially weight-training).
#2: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
Feed your body the nutrients it needs. Don't go for long periods without eating. More often than not, extended periods without food can cause binge-eating at the next meal. Balance your meals with healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
#3: Eliminate diet-stress from your mind and body
Being on a diet is often stressful. Planning what you are going to eat when you are at home or out with friends. Worrying about the choices you will have when you go to parties. Figuring out how to add in extra exercise after your "off-the-wagon-experience." Finding that random super-healthy-food-that-will-cure-all. Eliminate this stress (and again guilt) by foregoing the diet mentality. Remember, it is okay to indulge once in a while! Diets, especially the ones that severely cut calories, can cause nutrient deficiencies because of those higher calorie nutrient-dense foods that "no longer fit in".
#3: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
One strategy for minimizing diet-stress and moving towards a healthy lifestyle is to bring your own healthy dish to a party. Bring something you will enjoy and can rely on to be nutrient-dense. Not all parties I have gone to have the best choices. If it is a special occasion, I'll just have my normal meals throughout the day; then, choose the best options there. If it is a regular occasion, like dinner every Thursday at so-and-so's house, then bringing your own healthy dish is a way to go.
#4: Eat your favorite foods
Scenario: Now that I am on diet X, I can no longer eat: cookies, candy, chips, fruit, yogurt, pasta, bread, potatoes, corn, green beans, applesauce, etc. So, what's left is basically water.
Scenario: You have avoided _______ (insert favorite food) for a month now. You go to a friend's house and ______ is there. As much as you eliminated it from your life, it creeps back in. Just one bite turns into "Oops I ate the whole thing." Which turns into, "Well, there goes my diet!" Which turns into the guilt cycle...again. See where I am going here?
#4: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
Have your favorite foods! Now, I'm not saying to go all out on a cookie binge; however, if you feel like having ice cream one night, do it! Just portion it out and enjoy. Sometimes, if I'm looking for a sweet treat, I'll mix a little cool whip with raw walnuts and peanut butter (and of course my Lactase pills!). If your not someone who is good with portion control, then only buy single serve cartons when you get the craving. You can also find substitutes for your favorite foods that you enjoy just as much!
#5: Get your hormones back in balance
Not only can dieting alter your mood; but, it can also alter your hormones. When we have chronic stress in our lives, cortisol, aka the stress hormone, increases along with visceral fat, inflammation, and blood pressure. Crash dieting can also cause you to have increased food preoccupation due to the fact that Ghrelin (hormone that tells you to eat) increases and Leptin (hormone that tells you to stop eating) decreases. This, in turn, can lead to overeating.
#5: What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
-Eat well-balanced meals (healthy protein, fat, and carbohydrates) to keep your hunger at bay and hormones in check!
-Don't stress about eating "bad" foods once in a while.
-Push away guilt and instead focus on the fact that it is a lifestyle and not a diet.
-Plan out your own healthy dish to bring to events!
-Have your favorite foods in small portions! Better yet, get creative in the kitchen to find healthy recipes that satisfy the sweet tooth.
-Keep your metabolism in full gear by fueling your body with the energy it needs and staying active. -De-stress your life with a few moments of reflection or quiet each day.
As I sit here writing this blog, I am eating scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites) with Parmesan cheese and tomatoes and drinking coffee. I also had a sweet craving and had a chocolate nugget. Yes sir, chocolate at 8am. NO REGRETS :)