Diet. As a dietician, you may be surprised to hear that I detest this word.
Over the last ten years of consulting one-on-one with clients, you can imagine how many times I have been asked to give someone a diet. And with the launch of TasteBox, I have received a number of emails asking if TasteBox provides meals as part of a diet plan.
Here is another shocker for you: I rarely, if ever, talk to my clients about calorie counting. You may be thinking to yourself that must surely mean that I am a pretty shoddy dietician, but hear me out....
That old ode of calories in, calories out is deceiving: it lends the impression that one can eat what they want as long as they are burning off those calories through exercise and their daily living activities. It also insinuates that it doesn’t matter what foods or drinks those calories come from, as long as you are burning said calories off you are good to go. Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as that.
Instead of giving my clients a step by step detailed “diet plan” to follow (which in reality they may follow for 2 weeks and then get bored of) or suggesting a calorie tracker, I focus on the following areas:
- Eat foods your great-grandparents would recognize: vegetables, fruits, unrefined starches, healthy fats, good quality meat, dairy, and eggs. If it comes in a packet with a long list of unrecognizable ingredients, you should probably avoid it.
- Practice mindful eating. So many of us are guilty of quickly guzzling down a meal while busy with something else, whether it's driving, working on our computer, or sitting in front of the TV. Make a habit of trying to eat each meal sitting at a table, with no other distractions. This is such an important habit to practice for everyone, but especially those who have kids – kids that see their parents sitting down to a well-balanced meal are more likely to grow up eating a healthy, balanced diet.
- As far as possible, eat foods prepared or cooked at home. Cooking your own food means far fewer preservatives, trans fats, or other nasties we want to avoid. I encourage clients to prepare for their days by taking along a cooler box to the office or place of work with the foods and drinks they will need for the day, rather than buying something ready-made from a shop.
So, before you drive yourself crazy counting every single calorie you eat or sign up to another miserable month of eating nothing but cabbage, try simply adjusting your habits. Make a small amount of time each day to prepare your own food and be sure to practice mindful eating. It's a small change with big results. After all, eating is something we'll do for our entire lives, so what difference will a 2-week crash diet make in the grand scheme of things anyway?