I notice a lot of “diets” focus on making a lot of drastic food changes all at once. Especially things like “cleanses” and “smoothie” related plans, that state you will lose too much weight too quickly in a very short amount of days. I am not saying there aren’t benefits to looking into such claimed weight loss options, and even trying the ones that are safe and healthy for you, but keep in mind that these kinds of plans don’t work for everyone. And even if they do happen to work, they tend to be more of a short term loss, rather than helping you get and stay healthy over the long term.
I personally hate the way we use the word diet. I think it’s often misused to describe something you do for a short period of time, usually involving drastic cutting out of anything and everything even remotely unhealthy, that is designed for most people not to want to stick to. If you want to go on “dieting” occasionally, with yo-yo-ing back and forth between a certain amount of pounds and not actually change your overall diet to be healthier in general, then by all means, it is definitely your choice. I realize it works for some people, but for me this journey is about #1 being healthier, #2 staying there when I reach a healthy weight, and then lastly #3 looking better.
I believe making many small changes, over time, is a great way to get on track to living a healthier life. These changes are going to be different for each person, as we all eat different things on a regular basis. So for one person to cut down on a certain food might really help them as they had been eating too much of it, but another person who barely touched that item, saying they are cutting down on it wouldn’t really be helpful for them. You have to pay attention to what and how you eat, and decide what things you can lose, cut out, cut down on, or increase depending what your goals are.
One of the first changes I made was adding one meal each day dedicated to a healthy breakfast. I realized that I was eating leftovers or another kind of “lunch” or “dinner” type meal for all of my meals, and rarely, if ever had a nice “real” breakfast. For me, making either oatmeal or another healthy cereal be one of the meals I ate, meant cutting out more calories from the other things I would have normally ate instead(which weren’t very healthy). If you already eat a good breakfast, look at if you can make it healthier. For example, if you use sugar in your coffee or tea, try switching to a natural sweetener like stevia(personal favorite), or just learn to drink it without sweetening it. If you normally have a couple pieces of toast, with something, maybe consider even just one piece, or substituting something else entirely that might be a little healthier. Again, small changes.
Another change I made that was a big deal for me, was cutting down considerably on my cheese intake. It sounds kind of funny to actually type it out here, but honestly, cheese has been pretty much an addiction for me for a long time. I REALLY love cheese. I will never not eat it at all, but have successfully learned how to ration it and eat it in more normal quantities. I never paid attention to exactly how much I was eating of it, I wouldn’t portion it, or even notice how many times per day I ate it. My husband and I used to eat 2-3 of the large 400g blocks of cheese per week. So if I say I ate approx. half of that, that’s about one and a half of those big cheese blocks a week – which means I was eating around 6 of them per month! 30-40 grams of cheese is considered a serving, so if I divide even 40 grams by the amount I ate per week, it would mean I ate approx. 15 servings of cheese per week, which is on average just over 2 servings per day. Now, I’m not sure what other people consume as far as cheese goes, but I know that I ate way too much of it. I now treat cheese as more of a “treat” food, rather than a daily thing. I am down to eating 2-3 servings a week now, in comparison to 15ish per week, that is a lot of calories/fat/salt that is not being consumed by me anymore! Plus I actually enjoy it more when I have it, since I don’t just take it for granted and eat it constantly, the flavor is even better now.
I also have stopped eating almost all processed sugar. I use stevia for most things, or I just don’t sweeten something if I can help it. I still get lots of sugar in fruits, and have actually noticed a lot of the time I even PREFER fruits over more processed sweets like I used to eat. I didn’t always go overboard with sweets like some do, but I had almost an addiction to buying the 50%-off-almost expired baked goods in the grocery store. Half of the time I didn’t even want to go to the rack filled with delicious cheap treats like cookies, muffins, cakes, etc. but I literally went over to look there every time I went in the store. I’d usually pick out one or two things, a couple of times per week, and eat at least something small most days. I wouldn’t sit down and eat a whole cake in a sitting or anything crazy like that, but even eating those things a couple of times per week added more fat and sugar than I needed. The change I made was forcing myself not to even look at the rack, and now if I do, I might pick up a loaf of healthy looking bread instead, but I avoid the cookies and other sweets. Instead I look for the 50%-off fruit when I’m craving a sweet. So far it’s really worked well, and aside from the occasional unhealthy sweet treat(once a week or less), fruit has been successful in keeping most of my cravings at bay!
Another change I made at first was actually portioning out my carbs like rice, pasta, bread, etc. more than previously. It was nothing for me to eat a large plate of pasta with little or not veggies on the side covered in a couple servings of melted cheese. Or eat multiple servings of rice without really looking at how many calories it was adding up to. Now I just pay attention to it. I don’t always measure it perfectly, but I try to have either a half cup or one cup of those things at a time, along with lots of veggies or healthy proteins. I started out with just cutting down carbs slowly though, I might have still had 2 cups for a meal but that was still a smaller amount that completely filling the plate in the past. I’ve worked down to where I now mainly eat veggies. Not because I force myself to, but because they actually tend to make me feel more satisfied now than before. The less carbs I’ve eaten, the less I crave them, and the easier I’ve found it’s been for me to just pick more veggies than any starchy carbs at all. I often have meals now that are just vegetables, different kinds, with a bit of some nice fish or meat. I won’t ever give up carbs entirely, as I have cereal each morning, plus a little at some other meal during the day usually, but I feel having cut them down considerably has helped me a lot.
These are just some examples of changes I’ve made overtime that have helped me get this far in my weight loss journey. But remember, not everyone is the same, so what works for me, might be impossible for you, or may not make much of a difference. For example if you don’t eat cheese, saying you are cutting down on it, won’t change anything for you. One of the main pieces of advice I can give at this point is just to make small changes at first, and work up to adding more to it. I found that once I started with one or two small steps, it motivated me to make more changes as I immediately started feeling healthier(less bloated and icky), and I felt more in control of what I was eating. Remember, you choose your food, it shouldn’t choose you. Just because you WANT to eat something, doesn’t mean you need to right then, you decide when and if you eat it. It’s not always easy, but if you can make small healthier choices, they will all add up in the end to a healthier and happier you!
❤ ~M xo