Considerations When Choosing an Eating Plan for Fitness

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This is the most common time of the year for Americans to begin diets, supporting a $66 billion weight loss market. Writers of diet books and blogs make claims about their methods that seem logical and may be quite convincing.

Before investing money and emotional energy on any diet, consider if it’s is a way of eating that you will be able to sustain. How will you handle social occasions? Food is the cornerstone of most gatherings, and “special” food might not be part of the spread. Gathering around food provides an essential connection to others.

Will you feel deprived on the diet? Deprivation may eventually lead to overindulgence, resulting in weight cycling. “Yo-yo dieting” can make you feel like a failure, and is lousy for your physical health. Diets that leave out total food groups, or consider certain foods off limits are hard to stick with, and are usually lacking in nutrients your body needs for healthy functioning. Creating fear of specific foods may lead to psychological distress.

Also, consider seeking professional support. It’s one thing to know what you should ideally eat for fitness, but another to consistently do so. What we eat is very much tied to our emotional history with food and how we feel at the moment. For example, if you were given candy or other such treats on a regular basis as a reward, you may continue to reward yourself in this familiar way. Consulting a health care team is invaluable. A counselor may be beneficial in helping you consider your relationship with food. A registered dietitian is trained to assist you with individualized suggestions, and an exercise physiologist or trainer can create a plan based on your current health and goals. Your physician may provide advice on health considerations.

One of my favorite guidance tools that could benefit most people derived from the traditional way of eating in the Mediterranean region. It doesn’t totally eliminate any foods and is delicious and satisfying. Scientific studies have shown this way of eating decreases the risk of some forms of cancer, is more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet, protects against cognitive decline, decreases the risk of developing type two diabetes, can help manage blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The website has more information as well as recipes.

Here are 7 simple steps to get you started:

  1. Consider your protein seafood

Replace some of the meat in your diet with plant proteins such as beans, nuts, and seeds often.

Eat fish and seafood at least two to three times per week. Include fatty fish, such as mackerel or salmon at least once a week. Eat fried fish only occasionally. Limit red meat and/or choose lean red meat. Greatly limit or eliminate processed meats.

  1. Swap your fats

Replace solid fats such as butter or margarine with olive oil or canola oil. Use olive oil or canola oil for cooking, in dressings, and marinades.

  1. Eat plenty of vegetables

Get at least three cups of vegetables per day. Choose a variety of colors.

Eat more dark green leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, spinach, chard, and turnip greens.

  1. Eat plenty of fruitblueberries

Get at least two cups of fruits per day. Choose a variety of colors. Include berries often.

  1. Snack on nuts and seeds

Choose at least three small handfuls of nuts and seeds per week.

  1. Make your grains whole

Choose whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and popcorn. Look for “whole” in the first ingredient on the ingredient list (e.g., “whole wheat”) when choosing bread, pasta, and other grain-based foods.

  1. Rethink your sweets

Limit your sugar intake.

Nourishing your body should be one of the great joys in life. For 2019, consider cooking more flavorful meals to share, based on the Mediterranean way of eating.