Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Perfect Diet..?
"Diets don't work!"
I hear that all the time... I've even said it. But the truth is, diets do work--generally speaking. Most diets, if you follow them, will result in weight loss. (Will they make you healthy is another story...)
Diets work. People don't.
The problem isn't "diet." Diet just means the way you eat. We all have a diet. The real pitfall is "going on" a diet. The implication is that at some point, you get off. And for many of these newfangled concoctions of lemonade, pepper and pixie dust--the sooner you get off, the better..!
The key is to find a diet, i.e., a way of eating, that you can live with forever. You may have to do some experimenting to figure out what works best for you. That's the idea behind bioindividuality. For example, for some people dairy is a godsend; for others, a complete no-go.
Generally, go for mostly-Vegetarian, non-starchy, non-fried fare with lean proteins like beans, fish and skinless chicken, and of course, plenty of water. Make sure your grains are 100% WHOLE. And look for heart- and brain-healthy fats you find in tree nuts, avocados and olive oil. Avoid sugar and refined carbs as best you can; they spike your blood sugar, induce urgent cravings and trick you into thinking you're hungry when you're not. (Read this awesome Sugar Shock! book if you need help kicking a sugar habit.) Same goes for diet sodas. Experts are making connections between artificial sweeteners and carb cravings...
It doesn't matter what time you eat. It matters how much and what. If you are still growing, or if you have a demanding schedule or a physical profession, that influences the way you eat. Most people benefit from a protein-heavy breakfast. A nice trick is to add straight egg whites to your breakfast to get that extra heft of protein.
If you have a blood-sugar issue, you may be someone who needs many modest meals throughout the day. Or you may be like me--I ignore the clock and social pressure altogether and try not to eat unless I'm genuinely hungry. (It's so hard to tell--what with the constant cues to eat eat eat!) My eating habits are driven by the demands of my day and the needs of my body. Period.
I also like to enjoy plenty of indulgences, (yeah, I have my vices.), so I have to kick-in some extra exercise to maintain my health.
How do I know if my diet is healthy? How does anyone know?
It doesn't much matter what people say about how they're eating; their bodies are nonstop confessors. Your body is constantly telling you how it's reacting to the food you're feeding it. Feeling and looking great? That's a pretty big hint you're on to something good. Maintaining a healthy weight and waistline? Your recent lab results from your blood panel are perfection? BP in the neighborhood of 115/76? More evidence you're eating right. How about mood, energy, concentration, libido, and no need for prescriptions..? Again, looks like you've found a "perfect" diet--for you.
Look for the foods you love that pack in loads of nourishment per calorie: Think Volumetrics. No matter who you are, you can't be healthy without daily exercise. So go for it..! And if you're looking to enjoy a little treat, just factor that into your workout.