Haley Shaw is a wellness specialist and public speaker for her company, Amp Up Fitness.
When you hear the word “diet,” what do you think of? I am going to be honest, when I hear the word “diet” it just makes me cringe! As a health and fitness specialist, individuals will come up to me (out-of-the-blue) to inform me about their latest “dieting” endeavor. I have heard it all, and quite frankly I sit back, listen, and ask them if they actually know what the word “diet” means? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “diet” can be a noun, verb or adjective.
Definitions of a diet include:
Food and drink regularly provided or consumed (noun)//: a diet of fruits and vegetables
To cause to eat and drink sparingly or according to prescribed rules (verb)//: has been dieting for two months
Reduced in or free from calories (adjective)//: a diet soft drink
Per the definitions, a diet is a way of life. It is a type of eating we consume on a regular basis. For us Americans, we typically associate the word “diet” with a quick fix — instant results, with catchy phrases “lose 10 lbs. in 10 days.” If we reframe our way of thinking about “going on a diet” or “I need to diet” to state something like, “I am starting to make healthier choices in the food and drinks I consume,” our mind will start to create healthy habits for long-term success.
When we say we are going on a diet, what we are doing is simply changing one’s habits to align with our health and wellness goals.
Ditching the quick-fix diet thinking is cool. I promise. It’s time to focus on long-term goal-oriented solutions.
How to Transition from Restrictive Eating to More Flexible Eating
Define Your Goals
- Change is hard. Setting ourselves up for long-term success is key. Schedule out some time to sit down and define your health and wellness goals. Ask yourself: “Why do I want to change my eating habits? Why am I seeking assistance to live a healthier lifestyle?”
- Once you define your “why,” write out a few small, specific goals attached to due dates. For example, make protein-rich breakfast 3x this week, starting Monday. Or learn to make four new healthy dinners by one month from today. Put these goals somewhere you will see them often. Remind yourself “the why” behind these changes. Take the next step and inform someone to help hold you accountable (friend, family member, co-worker or trainer/coach).
Get in the Kitchen
- Learning how to cook can be one of the most beneficial (and cost-saving) habits you can start to implement today! If you’re new to cooking, start small and aim to prepare a few simple dinners at home over the next month. Discover new recipes online, ask your friends or family members what their favorite recipes are, and if they can share. You may be amazed on how easy some recipes can be to make. Soups and stir-fry meals are great for beginners. They’re almost impossible to mess up!
- Already kitchen-savvy? Awesome. Time to bump it up a notch. Challenge yourself to prepare more ingredients from scratch. For example, learn how to make your own dressing, rather than store-bought. The more meals you prepare yourself, the more control you have over what you eat.
Moderation Is Key
- We all have cravings for less-than-healthy foods from time to time. Think about your week at a glance. When’s the best time to splurge a bit and enjoy your favorite treat? If you are occasionally allowing yourself an extra treat, embrace it! However, if you find yourself indulging in dessert every night, think about its impact on your decision to eat healthier. Is this decision aligning with your health and wellness goals you set for yourself in step 1?
Think About Adding, Not Subtracting
- One of the reasons many people give up on new goals is because they try to make too big of a change too quick. When thinking about making healthier lifestyle choices, start small and think about adding new foods to your daily intake rather than taking familiar foods away. Crave something sweet in the morning? Try a smoothie with Dark Chocolate & Blackberry Collagen Peptides. Tend to overeat at dinnertime? Start off your meal with a colorful salad or a bowl of homemade vegetable soup and you’ll be able to increase your vegetable intake while cutting back on the main course.
- Small changes add up over time, so keep it simple and manageable.
Final remark, obsessing and beating yourself up over unhealthy eating is not going to inspire you to want to change – it’s going to make you feel guilty! No one likes to feel guilty and it’s certainly not fun to associate food with guilt. Be patient with yourself and know that nobody has a perfect diet. Small daily changes to make healthier choices add up to a healthier and happier lifestyle in the long run!