What I mean by that title is how to take steps towards being healthier with diet alone, not exercise. I want to sing praises to the person who asked this question because without meaning to it cuts out the first problem a lot of people experience when making health goals: trying to do too much at one time. It’s so much easier to focus on your diet than it is to focus on your diet AND exercise. Furthermore, it’s so much easier to focus on ONE part of your diet than multiple parts all at once. So where to begin?
First you need to know what you eat.
Take note of everything you eat and drink for three days. Try to include one weekend day in those three days because let’s be real, we all eat differently on weekends than weekdays. And don’t lie! This is to help you. Keep track of everything. Meals, snacks, nibbles, drinks (water and others). You can even keep track of portions but only if this doesn’t cause anxiety or stress.
Analyze the data.
This is where you should talk to a dietitian who has training in analyzing nutrition.
But what we look for is trends. Are you eating enough fruit and vegetables? That’s my first question because it’s about adding to your health not restricting. Remember what I always say, all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. So first, can we add nutritious foods?
When thinking about my diet previously I noticed I wasn’t eating much fruit. So I added a morning snack of fruit which actually makes me less hungry at lunch so I reach for salads more of the time. Two birds, one stone. I also noticed I was adding a lot of heavier dressings and cheeses to my meals. Now I let the food do the flavoring and some spices and oil if I’m sautéing. I still add cheese (because I can’t pass up blue cheese on the Thursday salad bar) but not as frequently. I save that for my pizza.
Consider foods you love but may not be as nutritious.
I love pizza. Do I eat it all the time? No. Do I eat it once a week? Most weeks...So how can I make healthier choices but still eat my beloved pizza? BECAUSE pizza is not the enemy. Pizza can be nutritious (because all food provides our body with nutrients after all). First off, how much pizza am I having? Two slices? Four? Can I save a few for leftovers? Can I have some vegetables (like a salad) on the side? Can I choose more nutritious toppings? Am I making it at home or buying it? Using whole wheat dough? SO MANY OPTIONS!
If anyone understands the struggle of striving to follow a nutritious diet (diet here means way of eating, not a restrictive “diet”) but also loves eating out, it’s me. And it’s something I continue to struggle with. Monday I went out for ramen. I tried (for like the first time) not getting an alcoholic drink because I didn’t necessarily want one and I knew if I didn’t want it that would just be unwanted calories. I found I actually savored the flavors of my meal more! And had a more pleasant experience because I got what I wanted and listened to my body. What I’m working on is listening to my hunger and stopping when I’m getting full. It’s a work in progress.
Stay tuned for my next post about perfectionism. Being healthy and eating more nutritious foods while still living your life is NOT about being perfect. You succeed when you find balance.