Experts say this all the time: diets don’t work. It’s all about adopting a new healthier lifestyle, that will allow you to lose weight and maintain it. But how do you do that?
Certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition says the trick for losing weight and keeping it off is to “think of food as fuel.” If your body is the machine, think about feeding it premium, quality ingredients to allow it to run better.
Typical American diets are heavy on refined carbs, refined sugars, and processed foods. When we eat these types of foods, we physically crave them more, not only because sugar is an addictive drug, but also because our bodies are starving for real nutrients. When we go on a diet and stop eating these high-sugar, refined, processed foods, we lose weight, but as soon as we start eating these foods again, we gain it all back, and maybe even more.
So we have to break this cycle of yo-yo dieting, said Leslie. But she doesn’t recommend going cold turkey and giving up all the not-so-healthy foods you’ve been eating. “Setting up overly restrictive diets can lead to more food binges of unhealthy foods and increase cravings.” She recommends “reducing the SAD (standard American diet) foods like white bread, foods made with white sugar, high-fat meats, and fried foods. Then focus on boosting up the whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, lean proteins.
You already know you should be doing this, but Leslie says to give it one month. And the magical thing that will happen is that within four weeks of eating healthier, you’ll start feeling so much better. You’ll have more energy, feel less bloated, you’ll sleep better, your skin will be clearer and brighter, and you’ll think more clearly. Feeling this good will drive you to want to eat healthier, and you’ll crave junk food less. This in turn will help you lose weight, which will be another source of motivation to stay on the healthy track.
When you change your mindset, and see the food you eat as fuel, and every meal and snack as an opportunity to nourish your body, you’ll gladly reach for an apple over a cookie. That’s not to say you can never have a cookie, or that you won’t ever crave one while eating a mostly healthy diet, but there’s a definite shift that happens when you choose to eat this way. You no longer look at unhealthy foods and say, “Oh, I can’t have that,” but instead, you’ll say, “I can have that, but I don’t want to.”