“If you think the pursuit of good health is expensive and time-consuming, try illness.” – Lee Swanson
A healthy lifestyle and weight loss are not so difficult to achieve, as any health enthusiast will tell you. My own experience in this journey has taught me that once you take charge of your eating habits, you will find the rest falling into place. A healthy diet is the first step towards a fit and toned body. Any amount of exercise will not compensate for a bad diet. As they say, fitness starts at the kitchen.
Breaking the rules
Keeping meals simple and fuss-free is a fool-proof way to stick to healthy diet plans. I’m not too stringent on the rules. No counting calories, no sweating over superfoods, no guilt, I just limit the portion size. If I feel like going out with friends for a pizza or an ice cream, I go ahead and don’t feel guilty about it, because for the next few weeks I ensure my meals are healthy. If one meal is loaded with carbs, the next two meals will be carb-free. My mantra is “don’t deprive yourself, just moderate”.
The starting point is always groceries. You eat what you buy. One look at your refrigerator will tell you if you’re eating right. For instance, while planning to include soups, salads and whole grains in my diet plan, I ensure that there’s enough stock of vegetables, egg, meat and fish, nuts and seeds, beans and whole grains, flavouring and seasoning ingredients. I try to refrain from processed food as much as possible, except for whole grain bread and digestives for those sudden hunger pangs. Cakes, doughnuts, chocolates, fries and the like are for parties and occasions.
Changing the recipes, not the cuisine
Any change in habit is difficult, especially when it involves food since we always associate food with comfort, feelings and emotions. I followed the advice of a nutritionist: “Don’t try to shift entirely from what you’ve been eating all your life”. If you’ve been used to Indian food, you need not shift to a Mediterranean diet or any other cuisine. I just tweak my recipes to make them healthier. This way it’s easier and you’re more likely to stick to the diet plan. Check this out: 10 best healthy food substitutes.
Taking baby steps to good health
I made small changes, one at a time. To start with, I reduced processed food the first month, reduced sugar and carbs the next, used more of whole grains, nuts and seeds, increased vegetable intake, made healthier breakfast, lunch and dinner options one by one. This helped me develop a pattern in my eating habits that has stayed with me until today. The rule of thumb is to make some healthy change the first day of the month and stick to it (forever!)
Eating a king’s breakfast, prince’s lunch and pauper’s dinner
Eating breakfast with whole grains and vegetables/egg/meat keeps you full longer. Same goes for lunch. Switching to soups for dinner especially has been quite effective for me in many ways – better health, weight loss and more energy. Though it was not easy initially (I used to get hunger pangs in the middle of the night), I got used to the habit eventually. An added benefit of following a healthy diet is that you will suddenly realise you don’t crave for that unhealthy stuff anymore.
Do you have any tips that worked for you? I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments section.