Have you ever gone on a diet, only to quickly become so hungry and miserable, you give it up almost immediately?
If you’re like most people, your answer is most definitely yes. Because there’s no doubt about it: the vast majority of people think that in order to eat healthy, they have to be miserable.
They just assume they have to give up all the foods they love and eat nothing but kale and boiled chicken for the rest of their lives… and never feel full again.
Heck, before I knew any better, I thought the exact same thing.
During one particular diet I tried out in high school, I immediately became cranky and lethargic, my brain started to feel fuzzy, and I felt like crap. After the second day, no one wanted to be near me and I just wanted to sleep to pass the time away.
Luckily, on the third day, I snapped out of it and realized that dieting (or in my case, not eating anything but carrots and yogurt), wasn’t doing me any good, and soon after decided to learn about what it really means to eat healthy on a day-to-day basis.
Because here’s the truth: diets just don’t work.
So how can you eat healthy—without dieting—and like it?
The key is to find a balance. Here’s how to start:
Change your mindset about food
If you want to start eating healthier without becoming completely miserable and hating your life, the first step is to completely change your mindset about food.
You have to start looking at eating as part of a healthy lifestyle… something that you do along with exercising, sleeping, and relaxing.
You need to remember that food is fuel and nourishment, something that powers you through your workouts and your daily life.
And you have to stop viewing food as the enemy.
In short, you have to stop dieting.
Treat yourself often
As soon as you remove all your favorite foods from your diet, not only will you crave them constantly and be bitter that you can’t have them, you’ll be much more likely to go on a binge of those very same foods when your willpower is at a low.
Because of this, part of a healthy eating lifestyle is to include plenty of treats in your diet.
These can be actual not-so-good-for-you treats (like chocolate chip cookies), eaten sparingly, or they can be something that’s actually not all that unhealthy (like frozen yogurt)—but that makes you incredibly happy.
For example, one of the things that makes me really happy is getting a latte on an almost daily basis.
My typical coffee drink isn’t all that bad for me (a 12 ounce, lowfat latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cocoa powder is my usual), but the act of getting it, whether while on a walk with my dog or while sitting and working on my laptop at a coffee shop, brings a smile to my face every time. I feel like I’m indulging, and it makes it that much easier to eat healthy the rest of the day.
However you choose to do it—by giving yourself a daily latte or by telling yourself you can have a chocolate chip cookie on Friday afternoons—make sure and give yourself rewards on a regular basis.
Because while incorporating treats in your diet may seem counterintuitive, but it’ll make you much happier and much more likely to keep eating healthy in the long term.
View each meal as starting over
For some reason, when most people eat something considering a dieting no-no, they give up on eating well completely for the rest of the day, maybe even the rest of the week.
But rather than throwing up your hands in failure and telling yourself you’ll be good again starting next Monday, there’s an easier, more effective way to stay on track.
Treat each meal as a new start. It’s that easy.
So next time you have an indulgent breakfast, or eat a few too many pieces of chocolate, don’t get upset. Just make sure your next snack or meal is lighter and fits with your healthy goals.
Trust me, this way of eating will stop you from feeling deprived, and one bad meal here or there isn’t going to tip the scale.
Plus, once you start making a habit of this, your body will start craving more of the good stuff like fruits, veggies and healthy protein. And though you’ll still enjoy a cheat meal now and again, you’ll soon find yourself not wanting to eat that way all the time because you just won’t feel as good when you do.
Give it a try
You can learn to enjoy eating healthy. It’s all about establishing a healthy lifestyle… not trying to follow a strict diet that you’ll give up in under a month.
For more on how to eat healthy as part of a healthy lifestyle, check out the 12 Minute Athlete food philosophy.
Now go eat something healthy!
Image credit: Stockfreeimages