Although it can be dangerous to think of “bad foods” and “good foods” (because the guilt around “bad” food creates its own problems), today we’ll discuss some minor food changes as well as dietary habits for the long term.
Don’t try to lose weight too quickly
The mistake most of us make when trying to impact our diet, is that we often try to change too much. The word diet itself is a problem – whether it’s the cabbage soup diet or some other fad, what will impact your life isn’t what you do in the next week or month, but for the rest of your life. And by defining an end point when you can go back to normal, you are setting yourself up for the weight yo yo and inevitable disappointment.
Habits can change in 21 days
So rather than trying to change everything, what if we simply made one minor change every few weeks that slightly improved our diet until each one became a habit? I’m talking a 10 calorie impact per change, like eating one tablespoon less of your soup at night or putting something lighter in your coffee.
You only need to cut 10 calories per day to stop that 1 pound per year weight gain
Because as it turns out, you don’t have to change much to make a huge long term impact on your weight and health. If, like me, you’ve been gaining one pound per year, to stop that you only need to reduce your intake by 10 calories per day. (Well, this 10 calorie concept is a bit controversial. It might in fact be thirty calories. But the point is, small changes add up over time). What you do for 350 days per year matters a lot more than your two week wonder diet plan.
Here are two great habits to get you started
If you’re thinking about making dietary changes, here are two that I find work the best.
- Go to bed a little bit hungry most nights. The best time to be hungry is when you are asleep! And, as an added bonus, you can go to bed hungry and wake up not hungry. I discussed this in my very first newsletter, and it’s still the single best diet management tool I know of. Simple, clear, and non-disruptive.
- Eat more foods associated with weight loss, and less of foods associated with weight gain according to this awesome Harvard study. Weight LOSS foods include: vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt. Weight GAIN foods include potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats.
- (runner up). Avoid sugar. It tricks your brain into wanting more calories than you actually need.