It's what you eat that counts
It’s been six weeks or so since the New Year, and I wonder what percentage of the population have given up their ridiculous diets. Last year, I fell into this category. Except my diet plan was a “non-diet” and despite being unable to stick it to it faithfully, those 6 weeks or so I did stay true to my non-diet left me with some lasting impressions… and, incredibly, results.
I’m not the first person to say it, nor am I even the most recent person to say it, but I can tell you it works: it has to do with the foods you eat, not how little or what time of day, etc. So, which are the good foods? It can be difficult to discern what is true with trends, fads, and quack crash diet gurus telling you which foods to eat for your skin, your hair, your waist, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. I can only tell you what worked for me.
My diet changed when I started tuning into what made me feel good after eating it (sautéed spinach, fresh apples), and admitting to what made feel bad/greasy/nauseous after eating it (McDonald’s, Sun Chips), and also being open to some new foods.
Here are some of the best foods you can eat: sweet potatoes, fat-free/skim milk and yogurt, broccoli, wild salmon, brown rice, citrus fruit, squash and gourds, spinach, tomatoes, beans, whole oats, green tea, dark berries, kale, and – double-plus bonus! – dark chocolate.
Now, does this mean you can grab a Dark Snickers and a bean burrito and feel some great health benefits? Puh-lease. It means reworking your diet to include these foods on a regular basis. I ditched my Whataburger breakfast for a packet of Quaker Multigrain Hot Cereal. I carry my Lean Cuisine meals faithfully to work everyday for lunch. In between, I lightly snack on cranberries, unsalted nuts, yogurt, apples, and the occasional SlimFast faux candy bar. Eating six or seven mini-meals a day is actually better for you than three larger ones – or in my case, the one huge one I was eating at the end of the day.
My dinners now are surprisingly filling – and tasty. I mix it up a bit, but my I’m-too-tired-to-cook standby is low-sodium butternut squash or roasted red pepper and tomato soup, a multigrain or whole-wheat roll, and steamed spinach with cracked pepper – yum! I say that not just because I’ve actually come to enjoy the taste of these things, but because I don’t feel weighed down after eating them. I actually feel better, energized, and satisfied. Before I hit the hay, I reward myself with a cranberry oatmeal cookie or a square of dark chocolate. That’s enough to satisfy the desire for a sweet little something for me.
Am I telling you to follow my diet? Absolutely not. That’s the problem with prefabricated diet plans in my book; they leave no room for the individual. I’ve found what works for me. Sometimes my love for hamburgers rears its ugly head and my black bean burger on whole wheat bun just ain’t gonna cut it. I don’t beat myself up, but I also don’t ignore the way my body feels afterward. That’s what keeps me coming back to my “superfoods” – they make me feel good.
I’ve had fun trying new foods and recipes in my new way of eating. I’ve discovering that I love squash and pumpkin and that it doesn’t have to taste either bland or like pumpkin pie. I’ve found out that steaming fresh veggies is as easy as tossing them in a partially-closed Ziploc with a tablespoon of water in the microwave for a minute, give or take. I’ve learned that I’m more energized at work post-lunch if I have some salmon in my lunch. And I’ve learned that meals can be whatever my body needs – even if it is a peanut butter and mixed berry smoothie with a whole-grain bagel and low-fat cream cheese.