South Beach. Keto. Atkins. Paleo. The list of diet trends that have come and gone is endless, and there are no doubt many more to come. But the problem with these diets is that they are often temporary. They may help you to eat in a specific way and lose weight in the short term, but ultimately, these diets don’t set you up for long term success.
So why are these diets so popular? Likely, for a couple of reasons.
One, they provide structure -- most diets provide a clear framework that takes away any guessing. Two, when followed strictly, they can lead to quick weight loss results. Unfortunately, those results are usually short-lived. Eventually, the diet comes to an end and you are faced with the world of food you were previously trying to navigate, often none the wiser.
Rather than spend money on a short-term solution, strive to build something sustainable. Focus on building a lifestyle that supports your health goals and nourishes your body all while allowing you to enjoy food.
Whether you’re just beginning your health journey or you’ve been on it for many years, here are our top tips for finding a balanced lifestyle around food without being bound to the world of fad diets.
Listen To Your Body
Your body is great at talking to you, it lets you know when you’re sick, injured, tired, dehydrated and it definitely lets you know when it’s hungry. But sometimes you can lose touch with your body's signals, especially when life gets hectic.
Take a few moments to check in with yourself throughout the day. How do you feel after your breakfast? After your lunch? After your protein shake? Are you energized and focused or lethargic and still feeling hungry? Pausing to connect with yourself for a few seconds can be a great indicator of whether or not your food choices are conducive for your lifestyle.
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Understanding blood sugar and how to balance it is something we can all benefit from.
Essentially, blood sugar refers to sugar circulating in your bloodstream. When you eat, your blood sugar will rise. When you go a period without food, your blood sugar will go down. Many things can impact blood sugar, but one of the most impactful factors is what you eat.
Primarily consuming carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods will lead to steep increases in blood sugar and sudden crashes. This rollercoaster ride can leave us feeling tired, cranky and oftentimes hungry again shortly after eating.
To balance blood sugar, minimize foods high in sugar and incorporate more complex carbohydrates (i.e. brown rice, whole grains, sweet potatoes), healthy fats and lean proteins.
This might look something like a half-plate of roasted vegetables drizzled with olive oil, a palm-sized portion of chicken and fist-sized portion of brown rice. This is the perfect combo because it will take the body more time to break down resulting in a much more subtle and gradual rise in blood sugar and will keep you feeling full longer.
Food can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of life, it is often the center of social gatherings and it plays into our dopamine receptors (one of our feel-good hormones). But sometimes food can become more stressful than enjoyable.
If you start noticing food is something you’re spending more time worrying about than actually enjoying, take a step back and reflect on what it is about food that is making you feel stressed. Is it planning what to eat? Cooking? Do you dislike the actual foods you’re eating? Balance is the name of the game. And remember, having something just because it tastes good is absolutely fine sometimes.
So the next time you’re debating taking a leap into the realm of fad diets, pause. Rather than rely on short-term and often expensive solutions, create a lifestyle for yourself that supports your goals and allows you to still enjoy the foods you love. That lifestyle will be something you can carry with you for the rest of your life and modify as needed.