Imagine this: you’re too tired after work or have had a busy day, and you end up eating delicious, but unhealthy take-out again rather than a healthy meal. You begin to follow a restrictive diet or do a cleanse that will just leave you craving endless amounts of sugary and salty treats. Don't stress! We’ve all been there before as we’re all humans and it is natural to crave the ‘good stuff.’ So rather than being hard on yourself, which can lead to unhealthy eating habits, it's important to find out how to eat healthy while not depriving yourself and adopting a healthy lifestyle today.
Make Your Own Lifestyle
Typically, individuals cannot live on a restrictive diet for the rest of their lives. Rather, they should aim to create a diet to fit their lifestyle and not force themselves to adopt a whole new lifestyle and eating habits for a diet. Realistically, individuals can still eat pizza, ice cream, chocolate, and numerous sweet and salty treats and still lose weight. The key to creating your own healthy lifestyle is moderation and portion control. For instance, someone cannot eat a whole tub of ice cream in a sitting and expect to lose weight, but rather, it is possible to eat half a cup to feel satisfied and not gain any significant amount of fat.
Why not restrict yourself? Restrictive diets will not help anyone lose weight effectively and keep it off, as these restrictions often eventually lead to cravings, binges, and overeating, which will sabotage attempts at eating better, improving nutrition, and losing weight. Also, food deprivation can cause an individual to dislike healthy, nutritious foods, which no one wants. Instead, create eating habits that work best for you and your goals. Roughly, these should be comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy, and also include eating sugary and salty treats in moderation and controlling the portions you eat for every meal.
Take Small Steps Towards Healthy Eating
For starters, it is not healthy or recommended for an individual goes 'cold turkey' and tries to cut out everything from their diet they consider ‘bad’ or unhealthy foods. Instead, focus on making gradual changes that will make eating healthily simple and easy. As previously mentioned, start by eating smaller portions, and take fewer bites and gradually work down from eating a full serving of ice cream to eating a half serving. It also helps to measure your portion and put it into a small container versus eating out of a bag or tub for complete portion control.
Put containers out of sight and out of mind when you are done eating those delicious treats, thus ensuring you’re not tempted to overindulge. Another helpful step is to experiment and discover what works best for you. Many individuals find using recommended servings help them control their portion sizes, while others might prefer to weigh their portions themselves. Lastly, use a food diary or mobile app to record what you are eating, as this will greatly help you learn what works best for you and what doesn’t, especially when trying to reach a healthy weight.
Try New Foods
The first thing many individuals need to realize is eating healthy and managing their weight is a lifestyle choice that requires eating a wide variety of foods. Don’t be afraid to try new foods! Eat what you truly desire and be aware when choosing foods higher in fat content and calories to use proper portion sizes and to enjoy your food, but avoid overindulging. Trying new foods can also open up a whole new way to eat for an individual and healthy options as well. For instance, do not be afraid to try foods from other cultures, such as Indian, Thai, Chinese, or Spanish food, that use a wide variety of spices, flavors, and fruits and vegetables that can be easily healthy and satisfying for anyone.
Eating Out & Eating Healthy
First and foremost, while trying to lose weight and incorporate a healthier lifestyle into your life, you are allowed to eat out, contrary to what many may believe. While eating out, individuals can easily make their meals much healthier by asking for dressings or sauces on the side, and by asking for a smaller portion or getting a take-out container right away and portioning their food in it before they eat anything. Also, they can share a large-portioned meal with a partner, and avoid filling up on lots of free bread and appetizers. Also, do not be fearful to ask for a ‘diet menu,’ or healthier sections of the menu, as luckily, many restaurants now offer healthier selections and will provide the fat and calorie counts for each meal. Individuals should also decide what their favorite part of the meal is. For instance, if they prefer the dessert portion over french fries, skip the fries and enjoy a smaller portion of the dessert.
Go Ahead & Indulge
The key to indulging in your favorite sweet or savory foods is to practice moderation rather than deprivation. For instance, if there are donuts in the office, have just one or half of one, allowing yourself to taste it and enjoy it. It’s not going to hurt you or blow up the number on the scale. If an individual is finding it difficult to eat healthy while at work, bringing in their own snacks to control the treats can be quite helpful. Simply trying to resist treats, whether it is at work or home, will create more problems, as an individual will be more likely to give up on their diet or binge eat due to the cravings or the restrictive nature they’ve programmed their mind to have. Simply, do not tell yourself something is forbidden, as it is human nature to desire it even more! Rather make conscious choices about what you will and will not eat, such as you only eat pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving, then eat it and enjoy it, but do not indulge in other snack foods you eat all year-round, such as chips and chocolate.
Ultimately, no one needs to deprive themselves to make healthier eating choices, as it will always come down to moderation and portion control. Ditch the diet, stop depriving yourself of delicious foods, and begin to eat a more healthy and sustainable way that will always allow you to indulge once in awhile!