In our nutrition practice, and in our personal eating practices, we focus on getting enough of the great stuff more than limiting the not-so-great stuff. If we put this into the context of activities for the day and said, "You cannot walk on the grass today. You also can't run through the sprinklers. You also can't fly a kite." That would seem like a real bummer and you'd feel limited. But if we said, "You can take a beautiful hike today. You can meet up with friends for tea. You can sit by the beach and read." That would make you feel like you had some really awesome options. The same goes for the way you approach healthy eating. Focus on the things you can add to your diet more than what you think you should take away, and soon the things you're adding will naturally limit the things you were focused on removing in the first place!
Here are four things that may not come to mind right away, but will make a big impact on helping you lose weight for the long term and feeling better while doing it.
1. Kindness: The saying that your body hears everything that your mind says is true. Our go-to rule here is to speak to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend -- with compassion, an open mind, an open heart, and the idea that the person on the receiving end of this banter (you) deserves kindness. A simple, "You've got this," can go a long way when spoken to yourself daily.
2. Carbs: Just add them back into your life already! It's not a secret (in fact, research supports this concept) that carbohydrates help to add a feeling of satisfaction to meals, so there's a reason you want them in your life. They also add fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and a really satisfying texture.A lot of clients come into our offices struggling to find and maintain a weight they feel great at, and a majority of these clients are avoiding carbs because they're afraid that once they start eating them, they won't be able to stop. Our advice? Opt for the least refined carbohydrates, like starchy veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, winter squash), beans and lentils, cooked whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat, farro, bulgur, millet, oats, etc.), and 100% whole grain bread, crackers, tortillas, etc. When you put together meals, fill half your plate with veggies, 1/4 with protein, and 1/4 with less processed carbs. The bottomline on this one is that it's not a single type of macronutrient (ie fat, carbohydrate, protein) that is responsible for how you feel -- it's your diet as a whole.
3. Satisfaction: When was the last time you checked in with yourself to see if you were enjoying your meals and snacks? It's not wrong to let satisfaction be a major factor in your food choices. In fact, we highly recommend it! Eat foods that you find satisfying and stop eating when you're satisfied, rather than stuffed. This will naturally help you control your calories.
4. Excitement: If your food choices feel more like a punishment than a party for your taste buds then it's time to rethink those choices. Fun can be infused into eating situations in many ways. For instance, if you have been struggling to fill your meals with veggies, then explore new veggie recipes that might make plain ol' veggies a little more fun to eat (like this one for carrot fries). If you just aren't loving your breakfasts lately, or find that you're eating the exact same one day after day, scope out Instagram or Pinterest for creative new ideas. Struggling to cook meals at home? Invite a friend over to do "meal prep Sunday" together where you pre-prepare basics for the week that can be turned into simple meals. Sick of meals at home? Meet up with a friend at a new restaurant and share a few things. The point is, eating shouldn't feel like a bummer or a punishment, whether you're trying to lose weight or not.