Diet does not mean a short-term crush course on weight loss. It’s about what you eat and drink every day. Diet is a very personal thing. No one can control your diet except yourself.
There are so many diets advocated by doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, fitness coach, or even your neighbor. Each of them claims that it can make you loss weight and reduce risk of diseases. It is very hard to decide which diet fits you. It is even harder to strictly follow a certain diet for a long time. I think the easier and more feasible way is to create your own healthy diet plan according to your taste and eating habit. Since you can still eat what you like, you will be more likely to keep up with it.
Here are a few principles that you should follow when making your own diet plan:
- Eat real food. Real food is food that grows from the soil and can be eaten in their original form. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. Try to make them the major part of your diet. For example, eat fruits and nuts for breakfast and snack, and replace the dessert with raisins or dates. If you can afford organic, keep to it. If not, just carefully wash the food before eating. Never refuse real food because of the fear of insecticide residual. The benefits you get from eating real food far exceed the potential harms.
- Eat in moderation. No matter how good the food is, do not eat too much. Stop eating when you are 70% to 80% full. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you are full. If you keep on eating till you receive the feedback from your brain on satiety, you have already over-eaten, at least 20% more than what you need. This is a major threat for your weight control.
- Avoid any refined, processed food and drink. This includes all the nice-looking packages that fill up 90% of the shelves in the supermarkets. If you want to control what goes into your body, avoid all these as much as possible: coca cola, packaged fruit juice, potato chips, cereals, ready-made microwave packages, and anything else with ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Milk, oil and cheese are also under this category. If it is not possible to avoid them completely, choose those less-processed such as extra virgin olive oil, fresh milk without added sugar. Replace white rice and bread with brown rice, whole grain bread, quinoa, beans can help lower blood sugar.
- Avoid trans-fat and added sugar/artificial sweetener, limit saturated fat and salt intake. If you can avoid processed food and drink, you have already get rid of trans-fat and added sugar from your diet. I put it as a separate point because it deserves all your attention. Anything with trans-fat (potato chips, nutela, fried chicken, french fries, coffee creamer. margarine, cakes/cookies made with vegetable oil) should be forbidden. Anything with added sugar/artificial sweetener (soft drinks, packaged fruit juice, candies, cookies, syrup) should not enter your house. If you crave for sweetness, bake your own cakes/cookies at home. Make your own fresh fruit juice from real fruits. Saturated fat and salt can be part of your diet but they should be taken in moderation. There are debates going on over their harms and benefits but you would not want to experiment with your own body I suppose. To play safe, limit their intake.
Try to make your own diet plan according to the 4 principles. You will find it easier to follow than the diet made by experts. Do not aim too high. Make the change gradually but steadily. Here are some tips to achieve your diet plan:
- Cook at home as often as possible. This is the best way to control what you eat. Buy real food, control the amount you eat, limit added sugar and salt, avoid processed food, all these can be easily achieved if you cook your own meal at home.
- Stay at the fresh product section in the supermarket. When you go to the supermarket, directly walk to the rear where the fresh products are. Fill up your shopping basket there and leave. Do not go to those rows of shelves in the middle with all the packages. You don’t need them.
- Drink water. Water is the cheapest and most effective pill for weight control. Do not buy any sugary drinks. Buy a water bottle and drink water.
- Eat slowly and do not eat alone. Take your time to eat. Eating is an enjoyable process. Relax and enjoy the taste of food. If possible, eat with friends and family whenever you can. Turn off the TV and put down your phone when you eat.
Be nice to yourself. Be kind to your body. Eat healthy food and enjoy the food.