I want to start off by saying I am not a registered dietitian. I am simply a woman who feels like she’s found a method of eating that has worked for her lifestyle and body. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been completely worth it to get to this place. Here are a few things that have helped me succeed in my journey:
- Eat whole foods. I do my best to include as many whole, unprocessed foods into my daily diet as I possibly can. I do my best to get in 1-2 servings of fruits or vegetables with every meal. I pair fruits and vegetables with some sort of protein for snacks (if I don’t I will be ravenous within the hour). I try to work them in however I can. I may throw a banana into a pancake, add extra blueberries into my yogurt, or have vegetables with my hummus instead of pretzels. In other words, I eat the rainbow!
- Eat your macros. There are three main categories of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I know people sometimes try high protein low carb diets, but it’s not for me. I love my carbs. Warm bread with butter makes my soul sing! I have found that having a good balance of all three groups keeps me fuller for longer. Some of my favorite pairings are peanut butter with apples or bananas or a spoon (just kidding…kinda), Greek yogurt and blueberries, Trader Joe’s dried mangoes with almonds, and hummus and pretzels (or vegetables).
- Do not deprive yourself. This is a big one for me. I don’t do well with deprivation, but does anyone? I have learned (the hard way) that if I am craving something I should just have it. There is no point in trying to fill an ice-cream shaped hole with a strawberry. I think the key is not overdoing it, which brings me to my next point…
- Moderation, moderation, moderation. I feel like there has to be balance between no deprivation and moderation for this lifestyle to succeed. When I say I let myself indulge in some sweets I don’t mean eat a whole pan of brownies or a pint of ice-cream. I have a piece (sometimes two) of a brownie. If I’m having ice-cream I portion it out into a cup or a cone and really savor it. I listen to cues my body gives off and I try not to eat past the point of fullness.
- There are no “bad” foods. I really try to not see food as good or bad because then you tend to associate guilt with eating the “bad” foods. Instead I see foods as being more or less micro and macronutrient friendly. Looking at it that way, I work at eating more of the nutritionally dense foods. Bulking my diet up with spinach, sweet potatoes, and blueberries means that my body as a whole runs better. The other foods may not be as filled with micronutrients, but they are delicious nonetheless. As long as I have them in moderation I am okay, but using these types of foods to fill me up leaves me feeling sluggish.
These are guidelines, not rules set in stone. No matter how good of planners we are there will always be days that don’t go the way we expect. I think that makes it difficult to adhere to rigid diets. I feel like deprivation leads to unhealthy eating habits and over-indulging in sweets leads to an unhealthy body. This way of eating has been the compromise for me. I feel like I have found balance with my food and a “diet” that I can stick with. I won’t lie, there are days where I get maybe one vegetable and have more than one serving of dessert, but I’m only human. I’ve learned that it’s not a big deal! After days like that, my body naturally craves big spinach salads and sweet, ripe fruit. It hasn’t been an easy trek, but being where I am now I can say that it was totally worth it!