There are a million and one diets out there touted as the best diet plan ever. No carbs, low-fat, the eat only cabbage diet, the never eat after 6pm plan and the list goes on and on. Most of these fad diets are prone to failure. Of course, you may temporarily lose weight while you are on these diets but most are not realistic over the long term. After all, could you imagine eating nothing but cabbage for the rest of your life? What kind of a life would that be?!? No, the best diet plan is no diet at all!
Yes, that's right, you heard me. Say no to diets and the dieting mentality. Dieting interferes with your metabolism and may even make you fat. The trick is to eat well always. Yup, for the rest of your life. We are talking about permanent and realistic lifestyle change that you can be happy with (or at least content with), forever.
Instead of thinking about what you cannot eat, instead, try to think about what you can eat. How can you fuel your body with healthy and tasty foods? Figure out this part of the equation first, based on your unique tastes. Start to incorporate more whole grains and a rainbow of vegetables and fruits as the bulk of what you eat. From there add some proteins - it is up to you as to whether or not you wish to incorporate lean meats and low fat dairy products or if you prefer bean products. A little bit of mono- or polyunsaturated fat will add flavor as will herbs and spices.
Beware of too many processed foods. Read the labels. The sodium content is probably way too high. (Aim for less than 2300 mg of sodium intake per day.) Stay away from simple sugars and artificial sweeteners. Avoid anything with hydrogenated fat as an ingredient. Choose water over soda.
After you have fueled your body with foods high in fiber and nutrients and are adequately hydrated, it is unlikely that you will still be physically hungry. If you still crave something sweet or salty or savory, then enjoy a little. Just remember, the equation for weight maintenance is calories in = calories out. Or in other words, a slice of chocolate cake could mean 45 minutes on the stair master, but a couple of bites will probably satisfy the craving, with a far less caloric intake, maybe you will just have to take the stairs instead of the elevator a couple of times. Regular exercise will increase your metabolism. More caloric expenditure than caloric intake means that you will either 1) lose weight or 2) can eat more. Find your balance.
Likewise, you might want to imbibe in a glass of wine with dinner, cheers to you. (Keep in mind, I said a glass, not a bottle.) There are health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption as well as risks associated with over-consumption. Again, the key word here being moderate. Remember the calories in, calories out equation.
We live in a social society where eating and drinking is woven into the fabric of who we are. Regardless of how careful you are, even the best diet plan can be thwarted, unless of course you are not on a diet. Instead, transform some of your unhealthy habits and traditions by giving them a healthy twist. By making a series of small changes to the way we eat on a regular and permanent basis, we can improve our own well-being as well as pass on healthy habits to our families and friends.
Just make one small dietary change at a time. When that becomes your new normal, then pick another, then another. In no time you too will be walking proof that the best diet plan is no diet at all!