In case you missed it - check out my guest post from last week over at Healthy Tipping Point about femininity & athleticism. First, a quick note, when I say “diet” I don’t mean a fad, crash diet – I mean what you eat day in and day out.
The first weekday after any holiday always prompts several promises of “I’m cleaning up my diet”, “My diet starts on Monday”, and “This week, I’m really going to change”. Cut to later in the week and those same people are irritable, hungry, and fighting a losing battle with their willpower. A few may even make it for a couple weeks – major kudos to them for having more willpower than I will ever have.
A typical dinner: protein + lots of veggies
For many people, dietary changes are in pursuit of a goal like losing weight, getting healthier, or just trying to eat a little cleaner. For some people, it’s a requirement. A prime example of this is going gluten-free due to severe intolerance or Celiac. I’ve fallen squarely into both camps – I’ve tried several different ways of eating and had to go gluten-free as a medical requirement. Which type of change is easier is up for debate but regardless, changing your diet is hard. Period. There is no “secret”, no “key”, and it takes hard work and dedication. I’ve gone from eating okay to a very clean, mostly vegetarian diet to a gluten-free diet that was semi-clean to where I am now which is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb paleo-esque diet (no grains, no sugar, no legumes, no dairy, no soy) and each time, it was tough.
Since Labor Day is the last real hoorah of the summer, school is starting, and several people are looking to change it up, I figured now was a good a time as ever to offer up some tips about changing your diet. I feel like I could write a book on the topic but really, I think it all boils down to 3 simple things:
Typical lunch: protein, greens, green beans, & avocado.
- Willpower is exhaustible: Remember this! You DO NOT have an infinite amount of willpower. Going at something for a long period of time with sheer willpower alone will only result in some serious crankiness and ultimately, failure. Everyday won’t be perfect and that’s okay. Unless you’re training or prepping for something specific (i.e. figure show, competition, etc.), you don’t need to be spot on every single day. If it works for you, allow yourself a little wiggle room whether it’s a “cheat meal”, a “cheat day”, or just having a small “pre-cheat” treat every day. P.S. I dislike the term “cheat”. Indulging in a meal or small treat that is off your usual plan is extremely helpful both mentally and physically – it’s part of the process
- Start (and keep it) small: Some people do really well with “challenge” type diet start-ups and I think these can be great jumping off points for people who are looking to make a change. But what happens when the challenge ends? Do you go right back to eating the same way you were before? If you haven’t made sustainable, small changes along the way then it’s likely you will revert back. Try changing one or two small habits every week. Then the next week, focus on changing two more while still practicing the initial changes. This helps you keep your sanity and helps you make changes that extend past a 30-day challenge.
- Enjoy the changes: If you hate eating raw salads, then you can’t expect to love eating a salad for lunch everyday. So if you continuously try to shove lettuce down your throat, chances are you are going to ditch that change quickly. Make swaps and changes that you enjoy. If you can’t stomach raw salads, try roasting veggies instead. Can’t stand the thought of eating solid food for breakfast? Whip up a protein shake to take to the office. If you enjoy what you’re eating, you’re more likely to keep it up.
Tell me: 1. What are your top tips for making dietary changes? 2. Have you had to change your diet recently?
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, trainer, or medical professional of any kind. I’m just offering up what has worked for me. Please consult your doctor or specialist about making drastic changes to your diet.