"I'm going to start eating healthy" is a promise that thousands of people make every day on a quest to lose weight and improve their health and fitness. A phrase and commitment that has sent a lot of people forward on a journey for success but more often than not is the cause of a vicious cycle and inevitable #DietFail.
So what's wrong with the mentality that you wake up vowing to 'eat healthily'!? Why can it lead to failure? And what are the alternative solutions? This is the topic that we'll cover today as we show you another reason why the stereotypical 'diet cycle' and diet industry are letting you down.
What do some people typically try and do when ‘trying to eat healthily’?
- They’ll cut out anything processed
- They reduce or cut carbs
- They’ll avoid dairy
- They’ll avoid gluten
- They’ll stick to only wholefoods
- They will not drink alcohol or dine out
Our Equalution client down a total of 19kgs! This was achieved through a flexible diet approach allowing him to enjoy his favourite treats and travel overseas while still achieving this fat loss results.
Starting to eat healthy... What could possibly be wrong with this
1. It implies that you've stopped:
If you're going to 'start' then you've previously stopped, derailed or been deterred from beginning in the first place. This says a lot about your method in that if something isn't sustainable, or a practice that you can keep up for an extended period of time you will be doomed to fail from the get-go.
2. It categorises food:
A ‘Is it healthy or not healthy’ approach and categorising food in such a way not only neglects the foundational science of transforming your body but also leads to an unhealthy relationship with food which ultimately causes inconsistencies in your nutrition. When you start a diet what do you think when you first look at food? Are you tossing up whether it's seen as healthy or not healthy? Or whether it's good or bad? Whether it can be done or saved for a cheat day? If so, this method of dieting is failing to properly educate you on the science of the body in that it doesn't recognise food as good or bad but rather for its protein, fat and carb component.
It makes perfect sense though even outside a scientific context. Think of your skinny friend.. why can your skinny friend eat ANYTHING they want, are forever eating take out and foods you wouldn't be caught dead consuming and they STILL remain slim? Their bodies don't simply store fat because of their choice of food, as whether you gain weight or lose weight amounts to how many calories you’re inputting vs outputting on a periodic basis. Ideally, your diet should be numerically controlled not categorically controlled.
3. It fails to reflect a science-based strategy:
Continued from above, looking at food as healthy or unhealthy as to whether or not it can be consumed neglects the foundational science of nutrition and isn’t consistent with how your body recognises food. When consumed the body sees food for its protein, carb and fat intake.
4. You might not see results:
There a number of reasons that can cause idle results largely related to not having a diet comprised of the right intake requirements for you - that is eating the correct overall calories for your body in light of your goals - and macronutrients for body composition and general health-related reasons. Whether too high or too low, no matter how much you’re busting your gut trying to lose weight and restricting what you eat to just wholefoods or ‘healthy’; if your intake requirements for your goals aren’t being met then you simply aren’t going to attain results.
5. You're flying blind:
What is healthy? It’s a difficult question to answer and leaves the onus on the individual to contemplate the grey area before making decisions on what to eat. You really have no guidance or guidelines and are basing food choices off an undefined concept which often leads to confusion and frustration.
6. It's a short term solution:
When most people embark on a quest to eat healthy this usually will entail a periodic ‘strict’ period followed by a cheat meal, cheat day or blow out. Because let’s face it, restrictive eating will come to a head somewhere along the line where you will need to cave for mental sanity and satisfaction. This sort of on-off dieting is not only scientifically ineffective in that you may not be adequately achieving a calorie deficit and therefore not losing weight, but the approach itself is unsustainable. It doesn’t consider the long term, and can only be kept up for a very short period of time.
7. There's a derail waiting to happen:
As mentioned above, it is human nature with a restrictive diet to cave to a craving or have a lifestyle event throw you out of your rigid regime. This is why eating healthy by way of restricting food groups or foods is unsustainable and a short-lived practice that is essentially just a ticking time bomb.
"I'm going to start eating healthy" is usually the beginning of the vicious diet cycle:
Instead, what should you do?
1. Get familiar with your intake needs:
Energy balance - not the food source itself determines weight changes therefore examining the calorie content of meals and foods in and out of the context of the diet itself is vital. Remember: All food has calories so know and understand what your body burns calorically daily. Generic online calculators and activity wearables are often not accurate or far from it so the best method of understanding your metabolic capacity is spending some time working with a professional who can strategise your intake needs.
2. Start to recognise calories and macros:
Start looking at food in the context of its overall caloric value, protein, fat and carb intake. This will allow you to make better choices and begin recognising food as the body does - for its numeric intake.
3. Be conscious of protein:
A good start with giving your body what it needs is sufficient protein. Protein is important for body composition in that it allows you to sufficiently maintain muscle mass while in a calorie deficit, it will also help keep you fuller for longer. This doesn’t mean cut carbs or neglect fat but just meet the protein recommendations which is 0.8-1.15g/per pound of body weight.
4. Get enough water:
Drinking more water generally has a 'feel-good' effect as well as its many other health benefits. Often dehydration can be mistaken for hunger so it can prevent overeating or eating unnecessarily as well as aiding in reducing water retention, bloating and cramping. The rule of thumb is 1L per 23kgs of bodyweight so drink up!
5. Make light switches:
Weight loss comes down to the fundamental principle of calories in vs. calories out, so instead of cutting and eliminating food and food groups make small changes to burn more calories and consume fewer of them - without your stomach or taste buds noticing! Simple switches to e.g. skim milk from full cream, low-fat dairy from full fat, lower-calorie wraps or bread etc can help with reducing your overall calorie intake.
6. Minimise or reduce binges and blowouts:
If you have a bad relationship with food and find yourself constantly having blowouts and binges, aim to not eliminate these completely overnight because that won’t happen, instead focus on reducing the frequency and severity and learning to control the urges as they arise. If you’re a regular severe binge eater and have been for some time this will progressively reduce your calorie intake over time too so you may see some progress from just making this first step!
7. Be flexible, be consistent:
We always advise an 80/20 approach when it comes to balance in your diet. Flexible dieting in its optimum practice follows an 80/20 rule; 80% wholesome and nutritious food and 20% fun and flexibility. Of course, its human nature that naturally some days will be better than others but the underlying gain of following an 80/20 approach is that for the most part you will be satisfying your body with its requirements for optimum functionality as well as satisfying your mind with food for your soul that will allow for long term sustainability and a healthy relationship with food. Know your intake needs and be flexible in how you meet these. In practising a sustainable method of dieting you will be able to stick to it and maintain consistency over a period of time which is the crux of how to achieve results. In this comes the reduction of blowout days, write-offs etc. which can hinder the progress you make.
If you’re sick and tired of the same old vicious cycle, not seeing results, want to eat what you want sustainably, AND don’t know where to start in eating according to your goal intake requirements… Take the first step in seeking professional assistance and we can show you the ways of dieting to your body’s needs in an approach that best suits you and your lifestyle. Contact us today!
Yours in Health & Fitness,
The Equalution Team