So, you want to go on a diet? You decide that eating better is in your forecast for next Monday. It’s Saturday, so you’re giving yourself one last weekend of your usual indulgence of coffee, double-cream, double-sugar with a donut in the morning. Cheeseburgers aren’t on the horizon for the big day that starts the diet so you gulp down one of the double-bacon variety from your favorite burger joint. Dinner is chased by a few beers (another item that you are giving up on Monday). The dawn of the new week means sunny skies, salads, whole grains, turkey burgers (no bun), rice cakes, protein shakes, and hummus.
If cheeseburgers, pizza, soda, beer, processed food, desserts, and (insert other common not-so-good for you American food here) are a part of your current regular diet, than you might want to re-think the typical “Give it all up, cold turkey” approach to dieting.
Granted, there might be a certain percentage of people that decide one day that they are eating like crap and decide to flip a magic switch that leads them to a life of better eating. This is much like smokers that quit “cold turkey”. It can be done, but will it work long-term?
Instead of trying to “give up” all toxic food in some reward/punishment eating style that leaves you feeling deprived of certain foods you have grown very fond of; let’s look at a different way to “go on a diet.” Heck, let’s even look at a way you can (gulp) stay on a diet. I know you’re excited, so read on my friends.
Instead of the cold turkey method of getting rid of unhealthy foods, try doing a little at a time. Like one or two per week. Let’s say alcohol, high-calorie coffee, donuts, fast food, fried chicken, and soda are all a part of your diet (note: all of these items are some of the most consumed items in America today). Instead of giving it all up at once, try this:
Week 1: No donuts or soda
Week 2: No fast food or fried chicken
Week 3: No alcohol
Week 4: No coffee (or switch to coffee without added sugar)
Now you have eliminated the junk from your diet, good job!
Try to stay that way for another 30 days or so. If you can’t give up any of the above items (or other food items that you just know are unhealthy), then you qualify as addicted. What? “I’m not addicted to food!” you say. Fine. Call your habitual and compulsive behavior to eat things your body was not designed for whatever you would like to call it.
Stay with me here.
The good news about sweets, beer, the occasional dessert disguised as coffee, and what-have-you is that most of us can consume these things in moderation and still live a pretty darn healthy lifestyle. So when you eliminate these things, you can add a little back in if you choose to. Just don’t binge out and lose the results you worked so hard for with your diet. Set realistic limits. After you have given up sweets for a few weeks, I would rather see you have the occasional piece of pie once in a while than see you feel so deprived of sweets that you go as long as you can without them to the point that you binge on an entire apple pie a la mode and lick the tin clean, and ultimately return to eating like crap again.
Think long-term with diet. Eat clean foods 80-90 percent of the time. Occasionally challenge yourself to go for a 100 percent clean; no alcohol, no processed food, no soda, no sweets. Lose the reward/punishment/deprivation system of dieting that most of us are used to and have fun with your life while creating habits of eating food that is good for you for the rest of your life.