If there is anything I have learned in my life, it’s that diets do not work.
As a teenager I watched my mother try diet after diet. Whether it was the Carnation or the grapefruit diet, she always had the best of intentions, but whatever weight she lost always came back. If my mom had practiced moderation in her eating habits would she have been more successful at managing her weight? Good question—and I’ll try to give you some guidelines that have helped me to maintain a healthy weight throughout my adult life.
Something that has worked for me is to stop eating by 7 to 8 p.m. This gives your food time to digest before you turn in for the night. Eating right up until bedtime can disturb your sleep and make for a restless night. If you must have a snack, fruit is easily and quickly digested.
Don’t skip breakfast! This is the most important meal of the day. If you feel satisfied you will be less likely to pick up a fatty, high- calorie snack, and a healthy breakfast will fuel you for the rest of the day. Eating a combination of protein, fats and carbohydrates is optimal. If you like waffles or pancakes, throw in some ground flax seed for its anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids, blackstrap molasses for iron, and whole grain flour for B vitamins. Spread a little bit of peanut or almond butter on waffles to give you protein and a little bit of fat. You can freeze the waffles for a quick and easy breakfast later in the week.
Read labels! Two of the killers in processed food are hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Ever wonder why you are always hungry? If you tend to snack on processed foods, then there is your answer. The combination of fat and sugar keeps you reaching your hand into the bag for just one more bite.
Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and good for your body. Aim to have fruit and/or vegetables at every meal. If you like salads, try adding chopped apples and cranberries for some extra flavor. Spinach or broccoli added to an omelet will get you a couple of servings of antioxidants. If you love fried foods, try roasting or baking your favorite dishes. You will still enjoy the flavor of these foods while reducing the calories and trans fats.
Next time you think about jumping on the diet bandwagon, instead of going cold turkey and cutting out everything you love, give moderation a try. You may be surprised at the results, your body will feel more satisfied, and you won’t feel deprived.
Ginger Lambert is a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Check out her website, for information on fitness boot camp classes for any level.