A big component to a lifestyle change is your diet, but it’s probably not the type of “diet” that you are thinking about. When people think of the word “diet”, they often think of “fad diet”, which is a temporary change in the foods a person eats in order to lose weight or improve health. As much as these “fad diets” promise fast results, these results are not sustainable in the long term. This is because, in order to have sustained results a person must stick with the particular “fad diet” long term. The issue with fad diets is they are not sustainable long term, as they promote large amounts of restriction and dramatic changes to dietary patterns. No wonder why 95% of people fail their diet!
Looking at different animal species around us, each animal eats a certain type of staple “diet”, or the foods that an animal eats on a regular basis. This definition should be the definition that people refer to when thinking about their “diet”. A diet consists of the foods you eat day in and day out, and in order to have sustained weight loss, or to live a healthy lifestyle, we must make small adaptations to the foods we regularly consume, and implement these changes for the rest of our lives. Whether you goal is weight loss, or improving your health overall, the key is to make changes that you can actually live with! Implementing a series of small changes that you hardly notice over time is the best thing you can do, as these small changes will add up to make large differences in time.
Without further ado, here are five small dietary changes you can make that will add up to make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in your health and fitness progress:
This is one of the easiest diet swaps you can make! Did you know that ONE can of Coca Cola has 39 grams of sugar in it? When you weigh this out, it equates to almost 1/4 cup of sugar! This causes your body to not know what to do with all of the excess sugar, so your body stores the sugar as FAT, minimizing your health/fitness progress.
What I recommend is that you train your taste buds to enjoy WATER. Invest in a reusable water bottle and carry this around with you everywhere to avoid purchasing other types of drinks. The same rules apply to fancy coffees and lattes, opt in for black coffee, or swap your usual morning drink for a green tea. Green tea is great because not only does it hydrate you, but it helps to increase your metabolism throughout the day.
After waking in the morning, we often feel hungry and ready for breakfast, however, often this sensation of hunger is actually your body trying to tell you that you are thirsty! The FIRST thing I do when I wake up is drink a large glass of water to rehydrate my body after a good night’s sleep. Further, throughout the day, we often snack on foods between meals because we think we are hungry, when, in fact, we are thirsty! I would encourage you to try and drink a glass of water instead of reaching for a snack, especially if you find yourself feeling hungry between meals.
For me personally, this was my biggest weight loss challenge, as I enjoyed eating a bowl of chips, or indulging in chocolate while I watched an episode of Vampire Diaries on Netflix before bed. This late night snacking often hinders your fitness/weight loss/healthy lifestyle progress because if you eat before bed, you do not have any time to “burn off” this food, like you would throughout the day. Further, late night snacking makes it more difficult to sleep because all of your digestive processes are activated. My general rule of thumb is to stop eating after 7pm or 8pm, to allow my body to digest the food from dinner and truly have a period of “fasting” while I sleep. I attribute a large portion of my progress to implementing this one small rule. If you find yourself craving food at night, I’d recommend having a decaffeinated tea, such as peppermint tea, because it will help to soothe your stomach and aid in digestion.
If you can find healthy food swaps that you actually enjoy eating, you have already won half of the battle. Eating food is a ritual in most cultures, and being able to indulge in delicious and healthy foods is one of my favourite things to do. Rather than trying to restrict yourself, seek to find healthier options that bring out the same excitement as your typical favourite foods do. To find fun recipes, I recommend you check out Pinterest and create your own Recipe Board that you can pin all of the recipes you have “tried”, “tasted” and “enjoyed”. This will allow you to create a space for delicious recipes, so that you have them on hand at all times. To view my Pinterest Recipe board, click here!
Another way to replace your unhealthy food options with healthy options is to simply stop buying unhealthy foods. In my personal experience, if there are chips in the house I will 100% eat the entire bag within the span of a few days. Therefore, to avoid the temptation of eating chips, I simply do not purchase them. When you go grocery shopping, avoid the temptation of purchasing these foods by only shopping around the outside of the store, where all of the fresh and perishable foods are located. Do not go down the middle aisles, because all of the packaged, processed and non-perishable foods are contained down these middle aisles. Purchasing unhealthy foods and having them in your environment will only set you up for failure and disappointment in yourself when you “binge” on them. Rather than get upset with myself for eating unhealthy foods, I only purchase these foods when I have the intention that I will allow myself to indulge and enjoy these foods.
On the other side of the coin, purchase lots of fresh, delicious and healthy foods and be sure to keep your fridge and cupboards well stocked. Coming home to a kitchen full of healthy options will force you to eat healthier options!
Every Sunday, I plan my meals for the week so that I know exactly what I am eating. To avoid the temptation of purchasing my lunches at work, or ordering take-out on the way home, I simply plan ahead for my meals and I always pack my lunches. It is also a good idea to make extras so that you can freeze them for times when you cannot go to the grocery store, or are in a rush to pack your lunch. Having healthy food ready at all times and stockpiled in your house, will make it easier to choose a healthy option.
Those are my healthy diet and nutrition tips to help you kickstart your lifestyle journey and set you up for success! Leave me a comment below if there are any dietary changes YOU have made that have helped you with your progress. Please check out my YouTube video (and subscribe to my channel) to see my video on this topic!
Have a lovely FRIDAY!