What diet really will make a difference? What are three actions that will help make any sane diet work better?
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
How did something that seems so simple, the act of choosing which foods to eat, become so complex?
Nutrition is a science that seems to be ever changing. The only constant seems to be the mantra of “Eat a balanced diet.” But the definition of a balanced diet varies depending on who’s giving the advice. Ask a Paleo enthusiast and they’ll encourage you to eat lots of meat. A raw diet vegan will tell you to load up on fruit and veggies (and to never heat anything about 115° Fahrenheit.) Ask someone from an Asian culture and they might tell you to avoid too many “hot” or “cold” foods.
In this age of the Internet, choosing which nutrition advice you should follow is complicated. You’re certain to come across a few modern-day diet gurus. A blog, complete with inspiring photos, will promise that you’ll find success to if you follow their rules. And the rules, quite frankly, might sound crazy. Perhaps it’ll be an “all-green, no white” diet, or a regimen of daily juicing and coffee enemas. (If it seems totally crazy, it probably is.)
Most diets fail. Yes, people do change their habits and lose weight, but they rarely (almost never, despite what ads for trendy diets will tell you) accomplish this by adhering to a strict diet. Long-term changes come from sustainable practices and changes of habit.
Diets fail, but we’re still fruitlessly searching for the “perfect” diet. The best recommendation (right now) is to decrease your meat, sugar, and simple carbohydrate intake. Increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and legumes you’re eating. Have some healthy fats. Drink more water. Move more. Make a conscious decision to change your eating habits.
For people that want to diet, why not try a reboot? A short burst of change can recalibrate our habits or make us feel better after a period of slacking off health-wise. Here are three “diets” you can follow for a week to recalibrate your habits.
The Vegetarian, Briefly Diet
• Steer clear of meat for seven days. Animal products, like eggs, yogurt and cheese are okay.
• Replace the meat in your diet with fiber-rich vegetables and legumes. Try a black bean burger or a hearty serving of black eyed peas. Eat a giant salad for lunch with apples, blue cheese crumbles, and lots of walnuts.
• Don’t fall back on simple carbs when you crave meat. Drink plenty of water and keep carrots, celery, and hummus around as a quick snack source.
The Sugar Be Damned Diet
• Become a sugar hawk. Try to cut down on your processed food intake. Always read the nutrition label on packaged goods.
• Skip sweets. See a cake in the office? Walk to the other room, grab the apples and peanut butter you brought from home, and wish Kevin a “Happy Birthday” while you snack on that.
• Go through your pantry. Sodas, sugary drinks, “fruit” snacks… it’s all full of sugar you don’t need.
The Grain Brain Diet
• Simple carbs are not an ideal food source. Our bodies need food with a little more substance than bagels, pasta, white rice, and store-bought bread can provide. Replace the simple carbs in your life with complex carbs for a week!
• Complex carbs come from, you guessed it, plant based foods. Stock up on non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, spinach, and mushrooms. Tomatoes, in season and delicious, are a great source of a complex carb.
All three diets have three other components: hydration, exercise, and sleep. Drink more water to aid digestion and overall function. Go for a swim, hit the gym, take a walk, or check out a yoga class. Get moving!
End the day with a “winding down” routine at a reasonable hour. Turn off the TV and the electronics. Grab a book, settle in the bed, and get 7 or 8 hours of sleep. We’re just beginning to crack the ways sleep is essential for every part of our health. Get your rest. Without the healthy sleep, other changes you make won’t have as much of an impact. If you’re having trouble with sleep, talk to your doctor about it and figure out why. It is that important to your health, and the success of your diet.