There is so much information out there in the world today about what foods we should be eating and what foods we should avoid. Added to this there are thousands of different diets that make the promise that if we eat the way they tell us to, we will lose weight. After a while all of this information can really start to make us feel a little overwhelmed and in my personal experience, it left me wondering what on earth I was really supposed to be eating in order to be healthy.
This week Nutrition Australia released a revised version of their Healthy Eating Food Pyramid for the first time in 15 years. The most noticeable changes are that they are now advising people to get the majority of their diet from vegetables, legumes and small amounts of fruit, they have reduced the suggested daily requirement of grains and say we should limit our intake of added sugar rather than recommending it be consumed in small amounts. These are excellent changes that are extremely important in today’s increasingly unhealthy society.
If you are confused about how much or what kind of food you should be eating everyday then this new pyramid can offer you an excellent place to start.
Increase your vegetable intake, get your serve of grains from sources like quinoa, brown rice and oats rather than processed white flour products, eat some healthy fat everyday like olive oil and nuts and drink more water. Aside from this, the next best thing you can do for your long-term health and weight loss goal is to never go on a diet ever again!
While there are many people who have followed diets like Atkins, The South Beach diet or even Vegetarianism and have successfully lost the weight they wanted to lose, more often than not, once they have reached their goal weight they start factoring back in the foods that were restricted or forbidden while following their chosen diet and slowly but surely the weight starts coming back.
Rather than going on some type of diet, start thinking about what you eat and about being healthy as a positive lifestyle change.
By doing this you are much more likely to be successful because you are looking at these things for the long term or as a lifetime goal and not as something you will do until you look or feel a certain way. Before you start thinking that to do this you have to eat salad all day everyday for the rest of your life, relax! That's not it at all. What you want to aim for is 80/20 or if you really have the willpower and drive you can do 90/10. So what does that mean?
It means making healthy choices 80% of the time and 20% of the time eating foods that make you feel good without feeling guilty. When we start denying ourselves food groups or things we love to eat we start to form feelings of guilt and shame when we break our diet and have a sneaky piece of chocolate or worse, a sneaky whole block of chocolate! We then beat ourselves up for not being strong, for letting ourselves down and for failing at our chosen diet. When we allow ourselves to have some time each week where we can enjoy a slice of cheesecake, have a pizza for dinner or woof down a nice juicy hamburger, without the feelings of guilt and shame, it helps us to create much more balance in our lives and in our eating habits. What tends to happen is we find ourselves making better choices for our guilt free meal because we start to notice how much better our bodies feel when we eat nourishing food. Chocolate then starts to seem too sugary and the juicy, cheesy hamburger is just not as appealing anymore. When having your guilt free meal it is helpful to keep in mind your bigger goals for your health or weight loss and not to spend the entire day chowing down on cake. Choose one meal of the day each week and have whatever you want and allow yourself to enjoy it, guilt free.
The above guide is a really great place to start when looking at making changes to the way you eat. Simply begin with increasing your daily intake of veggies and legumes (beans and lentils) and drink plenty of water. These 2 simple steps can make a huge difference in how you look and feel.
As with any changes you make in your life, break them up into small steps and implement one thing at a time. For example, this week try to drink 2 litres of water almost everyday. Then, try to choose a salad for lunch a couple times the following week and so on.