Like most other women in the first world, I'm aware of my weight. I also love food. And I'm not one of those people for whom kale chips are a genuine substitute for barbecue potato chips. Still, I like feeling better in my body more than I like pigging out. This has lead me to employ (most of the time) a set of attitudes that allow me to eat well without feeling like I'm depriving myself, while still maintaining a healthy weight. And, by the way, it's not all blueberries and smoothies around my house.
That's not to say it's always easy! We're up against a lot. Added to the mind-boggling menu of non-healthy items that we're faced with daily, women-especially wives and mothers-have been trained to put everything and everyone else first. Which means we're at risk for eating whatever's handy (hello, french fries!).
Here are some rules I try to live by for a healthy life:
Don't. Do. It. I don't care if you're 87 pounds overweight. The problem with other people's diets is that they are other people's diets.
Your Optimal Diet Is Specific to You
What makes some people feel energized makes others feel lethargic. What hits the spot for some people is a huge miss for others. No one knows your body better than you. Not your doctor, not your mother, and not the author of whatever diet book is currently atop the bestseller list. You're the commander in chief of your body. Experiment with your diet. Are you sleepy after a meal or do you feel energetic? Does a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast keep you feeling full until mid-morning, or are you hungry again in an hour? Is a container of Greek yogurt a nice snack or does just the mention of the word "yogurt" make you want to hurl? Make decisions about what you eat according to what makes you feel your best.
Eat the Foods You Love
There's no reason to banish the foods you adore. In fact, you should make a point of eating the foods you love. You should worship the foods you love! Just enjoy them in moderation. If you're addicted to French food, make a ritual of making it once every other Sunday. Make sure your gateau de crepes is served with a vegetable and salad and you're good to go. Bottom line, your diet is your diet.
Eliminate What's Worst
Life is for living, and part of living is saying, on occasion, forget about "being good." Here's me: I will never give up chocolate. Ever. And I'm not talking about the 70 percent cocoa, 100 percent organic, fair trade, free range, pure, and holy antioxidant-rich dark chocolate that's actually good for you. I'm talking Snickers. I won't apologize for my chocolate. But we all can change one or two things about ourselves. Take a moment for a reality check, look at the way you live your life, and honestly consider what is the one thing you do that is most contrary to a healthier you, then eliminate it.
(Portion) Size Matters
The simplest, most effective, single tactic to avoid overeating is to put only the proper quantity of food you need to eat on your plate. If you have cooked more than you need at that moment, before you eat, put the rest in the fridge or freezer for another day. Once the extra portions are stored away, it's a lot less tempting, plus more work, to get that extra serving.
While losing weight is mostly a matter of calories in versus calories out, when you eat is still important. Basically you want to try to give your body the right fuel when it needs it.
You don't need a huge high-calorie dinner right before you spend eight hours snoozing. Around here we say "eat early and often." Start your day with a good breakfast every morning, and then refuel throughout the day. It doesn't have to be fancy. A banana and a swipe of peanut or almond butter on a piece of multi-grain toast is good enough. And there are plenty of nutrient-rich, high-protein, low-fat smoothies and shakes you can keep in the fridge and grab on your way out the door.
Enjoy Yourself and Relax
Food is a critical part of making a house a home, and it's how most families connect. Shared meals are a chance to relax and enjoy the company of those you love. So don't let your concerns about losing weight or getting proper nutrition detract from those important, wonderful moments.
Keep It Simple
There is no better time to make a few positive changes in your daily routine than right now. You will get no benefit from waiting. That doesn't mean you have to go on an all Grape-Nuts diet and start training for a marathon. For many people, it's as simple as cutting back on hyper-processed food and getting into the habit of exercising a little each day. You don't have to let food and exercise make you crazy. As long as you know the basics, and develop good habits, a healthy lifestyle will simply become part of who you are.
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