A healthy diet shouldn’t be complicated or feel like a challenge. The best kind of diet should leave you feeling great, bursting with energy and ready to hit the gym.
If the word ‘diet’ makes you think of restrictions, denying yourself, and feeling hungry, maybe you’re approaching dieting in the wrong way. Technically, everything we ingest is our ‘diet’ whether it’s good for us or not. Looking at it that way, we are always on a diet. If you want your diet to bring vibrant, long-lasting health, you better make sure you’ve chosen one you can maintain long-term.
Fad diets: Not a great strategy for long-term health
We all know those diets that make extraordinary claims about life-changing or super-fast results. Often, these quick-fix diets come at the cost of good health as they involve removing one or more major food group. Everyone is different, and there are those who will find they are more healthy when cutting out a food group, but this is something to work out with the help of a medical professional.
If your body is deprived of one particular food group that it requires daily, you may lose the weight, but this may not necessarily be a sign of good health, instead a sign of malnutrition.
The best type of diet shouldn’t be a fad, a fast or some miraculous promise endorsed by a celebrity. It should be a way of life. And ideally, a way of life that involves a variety of good food, regular exercise and healthy habits.
Why choose healthy eating over dieting?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to look after yourself. The recent Global Burdon of Diseases study published by The Lancet revealed some startling figures on our wellbeing and longevity. In New Zealand, 86 per cent of premature deaths in 2019 were caused by non-communicable diseases; with the most common being lifestyle-related issues like heart disease, stroke, dementia and lung cancer.
Eighty per cent of these deaths were preventable as we know heart disease and stroke are impacted by good lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet and being physically active.
What diet should I trust?
There is no shortage of advice from professionals, experts and the not-so-expert when it comes to diet. If you see diets that promise rapid weight loss or unbelievable before and after photos, you may be best to steer clear. It takes time for your body to adjust to any change in diet or exercise routine and rapid weight loss isn’t healthy or sustainable. You should also steer clear of diets requiring a big outlay for books, courses or supplements. While some of these diets may work for some people, ffor most, the best strategy is a healthy, balanced way of eating.
Here are a few simple ways to introduce good diet into your everyday
- Eat plant-based foods more often and stay away from highly processed foods.
- Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables as they are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre and are a good way to help maintain a healthy weight because they keep you feeling full for longer.
- Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal.
- Eat a range of colourful foods, with plenty of orange and dark green vegetables and fresh herbs.
- If you’re eating grains, stick to foods that include the whole grain, like whole grain bread, brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal or hulled barley.
- Eat protein every day. The good news is protein comes in many forms, including legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meats, wild game, milk and cheeses
- Try exercising for 60 minutes a day, ideally every day of the week.
How to stick to healthy eating
We get it. A busy schedule often means the best intentions for eating well and exercising stay exactly that, intentions! To make sure you can implement your healthy diet, it’s worth getting organised and avoiding falling into a state of ‘hangryness’.
Here are a few tips on how you can stick to a healthy diet.
- Create a weekly meal plan and do a shop for everything you need at the start of the week. This is a top tip for avoiding that 6pm dash through the supermarket to grab a quick and easy (think highly processed) ready-made meal.
- Eat smaller meals more often. Stash some small healthy snacks in your car, bag or office so you have something to keep the hunger away. If you wait too long between meals you may make unhealthy choices.
- Remember to keep things balanced and go easy on yourself. If you want to enjoy a treat every now, do it. Just make sure it’s balanced with healthy food and physical exercise.
- Avoid sugary drinks and stick to water. This is a no-brainer, but if you’re finding it hard, keep a reusable water bottle with you so it’s easy to fill up when you’re in need of a thirst quencher.
- Get moving more. Take the stairs, walk instead of drive, run around with the kids instead of watching TV. Get that gym membership you’ve been talking about.
Keeping healthy over Christmas
The Christmas and New Year’s break is the time of year when we are most likely to fall off the wagon when it comes to diet. And if you’re on a highly restrictive diet, it can feel impossible to maintain. Who can resist the cheese, the chocolate, the drinks?
This is why a balanced approach to diet works so well when there is temptation. If you’re eating well and exercising regularly you can say yes to the occasional treat, and because you feel so good about your health, you’re not likely to overdo it.
The cornerstone of a healthy diet as opposed to a fad diet is keeping things simple. Remove processed food, eat real food whenever possible and get regular exercise. With a good diet comes good mindset, and with that, you’ll find it easy to say no to the treat, get yourself moving and feel good about it.
Need a little help to kickstart your healthy diet or to stay motivated through the Christmas period? Grab our 500-week celebration deal. Sign up with a friend and you’ll get 13 months gym membership for $500 + membership fee. Find out more here.