Atkins. South Beach. Cabbagesoup? Sprinkling “Sensa” on your food? Please. Give me a break. I call those diets the “hop on hop off” diets. One month you’re diligently following all its rules that deprive you of flavour and zest and the next you come crashing through the doors of junk food ‘heaven’ sitting on your sofa eating a tub of ice cream with a side of chips because you feel drained of energy, hungry and oddly unsatisfied.
Yet, some of us still want to rock gorgeous bodies at 65 like Candice Bergen or move like Florence Henderson on “Dancing with the Stars” at the age of 76. How do you get there, you ask? Easy. You change your lifestyle. Slowly, but surely.
First things first, eliminate sugary drinks and deserts from your diet. Processed foods and drinks add extra calories and zero nutrition. Remember, just like you wouldn’t put regular gas in a Ferrari, you don’t put cheap, processed food in your body. You don’t have to cut sugar out completely, but start cutting slowly. If you drink three cans of soda per day, decrease it to two. Rather than putting two spoons of sugar in your coffee, cut it down to one and a half. If you have a super-sweet tooth, try making things at home ahead of time so that you can control the amount of sugar that goes in your food. Slowly you will start noticing a gradual change in your habits.
Next, protein, protein, protein! We always hear this from the men in our lives who want thick cuts of steak and big pieces of chicken. Truth is, protein helps to keep you fuller longer and, thus, keeping you satisfied throughout your day. Not only that, but protein helps in muscle tissue repair which you especially need if you are working out. Make sure to consume lean cuts of beef, chicken breast, eggs and fish during each of your meals. Try to keep it to the size of your palm for portion control. If you are a vegetarian, try to consume a variety of beans and lentils to obtain your protein requirements.
Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy and, quite frankly, the fastest source, as well. Vegetables should be your primary source of carbohydrates. Not only do they provide your body with a steady source of energy but they are full of nutrients your body needs, low in calorie and a good source of fibre. But what about the other stuff? Ah, yes. Every girl loves her pasta and bread. However, the sugar converting substances we’re used to can add a lot to the developing tire around our waists. Thus, make this your mantra: make half of your grains whole. Replace your containers of white rice with brown rice, regular pasta with whole wheat and white bread with whole wheat bread. Not only will you feel satisfied longer, your digestive system will thank you for it!
Consume fats. Wait. Fats? Surely that can’t make you lose weight?! Guess again. I’m talking about the healthy kind that our bodies need in order to function and our brains need as a protective shield. You get this fat from nuts, nut butters and vegetable oils such as canola or olive oil. Limit your daily intake to about ¼ cup of nuts, 1 tbsp of a nut butter of your choice, and one 1 tbsp of olive or canola oil.
Thus, let’s try not to jump on the bandwagon of fad diets and try to change our lifestyles for the better. You will not only trim your waist but you will develop healthy habits that will last you and your family a lifetime.
Sidrah Abood obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a focus in Human Nutrition and Health from the University of Houston. She has worked with the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine as well as at the Texas Obesity Research Center in Houston, Texas. Her goal is to educate people about the importance of eating healthy and the dangers of obesity through the art of writing. She has published articles on LIVESTRONG.com, eHow and Associated Content from Yahoo.