I confess, I’m kind of allergic to diets. I mean I’m not sneezing or skin itching or whatever else, it’s my mind that is allergic.
And why shouldn’ t it be. Is any diet logic or scientific backed?
Ok, maybe some of them, if you accept the idea that the results of a study involving, let’s say 100.000, people from the rich USA are also suitable for all people in all countries and are suitable for you, with your particular and different genes, lifestyle, preferences a.s.o.
And talking about scientific research, how should I trust any study nowadays when after decades of “don’t eat eggs”, we learn that eggs are so good they shouldn’ t miss from our menus?
My brain starts itching as soon as I read I mustn’ t eat whole milk products though scientific research nowadays says it’s ok to eat your whole milk yogurt or cheese, provided you’re moderate.
Or that I should avoid the so called “nightshades” though other studies suggest there’s no healthier veggie than the humble tomato.
My brain starts sneezing a lot when I’m giving lists of foods to avoid, wonder foods that will cure any illness on earth and especially metabolic deseases and lists of “backed up by science tips to get slim”.
Yes, I’m allergic but there’s a cure to this: stop reading the diet nonsense.
I’m against diets, in general. If you’re young and don’t have to much weight in excess, just change your lifestyle. Move a lot more, eat a lot less, eat good food, not junk bla bla, bla…. By now, you should know the lesson well.
What if you’re a lot overweight? A human whale or elephant…
Then, it’s a different story. Obesity is a condition and should be treated likewise.
I’m not discussing the medical treatment options, I’ m taking a look at the lifestyle.
The first thing to do is to be more active, in all aspects: fight stress, groom yourself, buy nice clothes, learn something new, go out of your home, socialize, take long walks in fresh air and, especially, declutter your home and your life. Make things simpler, make room to change your life.
And, of course, you need a diet.
In many conditions, diets are a must, only a diet for obesity is not a list of dos and don’ts.
You have to build your own diet, make it viable.
A good start would be to adhere to one of existing healthy diets like the Mediterranean Diet or Dash Diet. Avoid diets promising wonders, this is a long, long path to go.
South Beach Diet was a very good starting point, unfortunately it’s been “killed”. There are some promises of revival. The old South Beachers maintain support groups on Facebook.
Although it has some flaws, Montignac Diet, from which South Beach Diet emerged is an interesting one and has some scientific backup. It also has Mediterranean recipes included.
You don’t necessarily need to adhere 100% to a diet, it’s almost impossible to do so.
It may not suit your preferences or lifestyle. 75% would be a good percentage to start with. That’s what I did when I adopted South Beach Diet. For example, I almost don’t eat in the evening, Lunch is my main meal and I had to adapt the diet menus.
Also, I didn’t understand why bananas and potatoes were not recommended and kept eating them. And, surprise, after one year, the official diet put back bananas.
Potatoes are, to this day, not accepted in many diets but this is really wrong. They’re very healthy, only quantities are unhealthy and the cooking methods. Potatoes are still on my menus, with no damage to my weight.
Once you’ve mastered one of the diets, keep a journal, keep track of your weight, waist length, health parameters.
If, over a couple of months you don’t see improvements, start making some changes.
Don’t forget that your diet must be viable (capable of working successfully or feasible) on a long term. A lifelong term, that is, you’ll live with this diet.
Make small changes, don’t rush. See if your changes are doing any good, not immediately but in 2-3 weeks.
Expect that, even successfully, after six months or so, you may hit a plateau. That is, your scale seems to freeze. Don’t panic, just keep on going. Time to review your diet and, maybe, make adjustments and exercise more.
Your diet has to be personalized and maintained to be viable, that’s the whole idea.
One parameter missing from most obesity studies seems to be the stress level. You see age, sex, some health parameters, how many of this or that one eats but nothing to describe the stress level, not even a personal evaluation. Oh, wait, maybe how many hours of sleep you’ve had. Not so relevant, in my opinion.
Yet, one of the major causes of obesity is stress and not necessarily because when you’re stressed , you tend to binge. Stress does something to your body, I’ve learned.
A diet adds to stress a lot. So much that maybe it’s better not to diet at all.
When your body has a problem with fat, first of all stress has to be dealt with.
How one should do it? Besides taking a walk in the park or listen to some music, of course.
There’s a magic word “treat”.
Treat your body gently. Don’ t rush to adopt some extreme diet. Don’t become a hero of all sports overnight. Don’t look at yourself as to a fat monster.
Be moderate in what you eat, in how you exercise and in your lifestyle, but don’t go to extreme with moderation either.
Don’t let other treat you “differently” because you have this fat problem. Avoid negative people, those who stress you. Avoid nutritionists who are kind of “bully”and don’t seem to understand your problems.
Treat yourself from time to time, with moderation, to something good, nice, that will make you pleasure.
What about a sweet treat? That will add a pound or two, right? Nope, wrong.
Not if it’s not something you eat daily. You eat it occasionally, it’s a treat.
Relax, enjoy it! Have some pleasure in your life.
Once in a while, several times a year, I eat creme brulee, it’s my favorite treat.
I didn’ t notice any change in my weight, the scale is happy with that.
It’s what I’m doing daily that adds to my problems, including stress, not a treat now and then.
Try to create healthy treats for you and your family like a nice tempting tray with all kinds of fruit with a bit of cheese on the side or dark chocolate.
When it comes to diets, I’m having reservations.
Each diet promises you a Holly land. Do this and that and you will be blessed.
Actually it is hell on earth, anyone who has been through a diet knows this too well.
And it seems nowadays a lot of people have reservations when it comes to the super diets of the previous years, not only me. Simply, the current popular diets don’t work on a long term. I’m not so sure of personalized diets either.
The trend seems to be towards following a simpler healthier lifestyle, without thinking anymore “diet”.
A return to traditions, to healthier proper cooked food while moving a lot more and trying to reduce stress as much as possible.
I see this possible in Europe, though fast food has made it more difficult, especially when children are involved.
But honestly I’m reserved there are any success chances in USA.
First, there’s sugar. Anything has to have sugar, otherwise it has not a proper taste. Even the salad. Why should I add sugar to a salad? It’s not desert. It’s meant to be a bit sour. Just add less lemon or vinegar, don’t “improve” the sour taste by adding sugar!
Adding sugar to any sauce? Why? I don’t know, but when every recipe has some sugar and every item you buy has sugar, then sugar is a problem, not something to enjoy greatly from time to time.
Then, there’s “dip”. Whatever recipe I’ve tried to present to my American friends turned into “dip”, something in which you dip a lot of junk food or some fresh veggies to make them more edible.
Most dips are in Europe just a side dish or a meal in itself. Major advantage: you can have a control over portion size.
Then there’s stock. Ok, it’s nice to have some freshly made stock in your fridge and use it in a recipe. But… to pretend you cook a Mediterranean recipe and add stock bought from the supermarket it’s a bit weird. I’ve been shocked by some veggie soup recipes. You boil some fresh veggies and then add beef stock (!?) or stock not so fresh made with the same veggies! Why, I don’t know.
If you put in a pot fresh meats and/ or fresh veggies, there’s no need for stock.
On one condition, though. Better buy your ingredients fresh from a farm or buy organic.
If the veggies or meats taste like cardboard then, yes, you’ll need stock, condiments, sugar, salt and I don’t know what else to make your meal edible. Just don’t say it’s healthy.
Anyway, trust an American to change a nice healthy Mediterranean recipe in the most unhealthy meal possible, adding sugar, starch, salt, fats, stock whatever.
Whenever I stumble on a “healthy” recipe and see the author is American, I instantly become reserved.
Photo from Delphine Hourlay, via http://www.pexels.com
I presume you’re like me. I enjoy eating, I hate physical exercise and especially jogging, and have quite a lot of personal problems, who has not?
I’m writing this with the obvious objective to help myself but if it will help you too, my Karma will be happy.
So, it’s a decision point in your life. You have to do something about your weight because….bla, bla bla, writing down your reasons won’t help you too much. Of course, you have serious reasons and you’re not likely to forget them. Your bad health won’t let you forget.
Better make a list in your mind of what physical activities you can easily do, immediately. Activities that you’ll enjoy greatly and you can afford. Don’t think big, walking half an hour a day will do for a start.
See my modest list, just as an example. But it’s not your list, you should have your own.
– Walking, half an hour a day, in fresh air.
– Swimming, once a week
– Tai-Chi, daily
Once you have your list, start immediately, don’t think twice, don’t delay.
Don’t give up. If you fell out of the wagon, get up, dust your feathers and go on!
Start keeping a journal. MyFitnessPal is excellent to this purpose, it’ll allow you to record rapidly, on your phone or tablet or computer, what you eat and all your activities.
And it’ll give you some hints on calories and nutritional value of what you eat.
It can connect automatically to some devices like a wi-fi smart scale or a tracker like Fitbit.
Keeping a journal is not so time consuming and it might have an interesting psychological effect. It’s like having kind of a personal Coach. Besides, it makes you aware of what and how much you’re eating. Just keeping this journal might help you eat less, exercise more.
It’s been helping me, why not you too?
What else can you do, in the very beginning, before adopting your own or some known diet?
Make a list of favorite foods and meals. Assign each food a category, like
– Healthy foods I like very much, I’d eat them almost daily
– Healthy foods I’d like to eat them from time to time
– Foods I like but I think they’re not so healthy for me
Be honest with yourself. Don’t add healthy foods you hate, just because you know they’re healthy (like broccoli). Don’t “decide” that a food is healthy just because you like it very much. Don’t either exclude a favorite food just because someone said it’s not healthy. Do your lessons well or you might be in danger o starving because of too much science. In fact this is your list, nobody has to see it.
If you can’t decide what’s healthy and what’s not, start reading. But a rule of thumb is this: the more processed is that food, the less healthy it is. Read labels. If you have more than 3 chemicals added or a lot of sugar or salt, maybe it’s not so healthy.
Pay attention to some ingredients like trans fats or hydrogenated oils. Better exclude these altogether. I also exclude palm oil but it’s up to you if you’ll reject it.
Add to the “Foods I think are not so healthy for me” list, foods you’re not supposed to eat because of a certain condition. Like, if you have diabetes, you should eat only foods permitted by your doctor.
I’ll give you my list but don’t forget that the list should contain your favorite foods, not mine. Besides these are foods common in my area, most of them can be found on the peasant market.
If you’re amazed of why I’ve included some foods on the healthy list, don’t forget, quantity counts. I won’t eat much of a very salty food but if it has vitamins and minerals and I like it, I’ll eat it. Also, cooking methods counts so a potato salad considered by some unhealthy, is very, very healthy in fact if you have the good recipe.
Healthy foods I like very much, I’d eat them almost daily
Tomatoes. Raw or stewed with a bit of olive oil. Tomato sauce like sofrito
Red peppers raw or barbecued
Cucumbers, raw or pickled
Whole grain bread, fresh or toast.
Eggs, boiled, poached, omelette, scrambled.
Cheese, any cheese
Beans, any beans (white beans, hummus, chickpeas, lentil, peas)
Fruit, any fruit
Veggie soup with rice, potatoes or pasta and tomatoes or yogurt
Steeled Oats with whole milk or kefir or yogurt
Zakouska (a preserve made with eggplant, red peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, spices, oil)
Lettuce, but only organic
Tuna fish or tinned sardines or pickled herring
Healthy foods I’d like to eat from time to time
Chicken in tomato sauce
Duck breast with quinces
Stuffed cabbage, stuffed bell peppers, stuffed tomatoes, stuffed vine leaves with yogurt
Chicken or pork liver, fried in olive oil with onion or barbecued
Baked fish with veggies and tomatoes
Chicken soup with home made noodles
Zucchini, summer squash
Onions, leek, garlic
Foods I like but I think they’re not so healthy for me
Pastry, not home made
You know what’s next. Eat foods from categories one or two, as you like it. Eat less of the foods in the last category, as less as possible, without ruining your social life.
At this point, don’t expect too much. If you’re lucky, these simple steps will already help you. But don’t get upset if the scale won’t smile to you.
There are still steps to take.
One more tip: Don’t tell anyone near you about your new lifestyle.
Shhht, it’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone until you see some results!