Even though the literal meaning of the word diet is “way of eating or lifestyle,” it is now generally associated with something extreme that includes both a starting and a stopping point. Getting back to thinking of a diet as a “way of eating” is not only more accurate but more helpful and sustainable.
The following tips are designed to help you stay positive and make progress in your “way of eating.”
Enhance your desire for healthy food.
Begin with foods you like that you know are healthy and then start seeking out similar healthy foods to try. Avoid forcing yourself to eat food you intensely dislike just because it is good for you. At the same time, reduce your exposure to over-sweetened, over-salted, and over-processed foods that train your taste buds to think healthy food is boring.
Make it harder to make unhealthy choices and easier to make healthy ones
Snacks are often appealing, not so much for their taste, but because they are available, and they are easy. And while it’s far easier to eat candy than peel an orange, the point is moot if the candy is not easily available. Keep it out of the house or put it in an inconvenient location in your kitchen, pantry, or some other far away part of your home. Improve your odds of eating healthfully by making healthy choices easier and unhealthy ones harder.
Exercise is not punishment for the sins of eating
Exercise and healthy eating are not moral choices—they are simply healthful ones. Your eating habits and your exercise behaviors are meant to point you in the same direction rather than work against each other. The power of both physical activity and good nutrition together is greater than either one alone.
Enjoy the meal and the people with whom you eat
A Mediterranean-Style dietary pattern is frequently recommended due to its focus on whole foods, but one part of it that is rarely mentioned is the Mediterranean approach to the experience of eating. It is focused on communing with others and enjoying food through all of the senses—the aromas, tastes, textures and appearance. Regardless of what we eat, there is much to be learned from this long-standing tradition of valuing the experience of eating and doing so with others.
Disrupt old habits and replace them with new ones
Shortcuts develop around any behavior you repeat often. If you always have a bowl of ice cream while watching television at night, simply sitting down to watch a show at night can create the craving. Disrupt the habit by replacing it with healthier behavior.