Seek balance and variety for weight loss and good health. Many of us who try to lose weight think we need to restrict our diets severely and adopt rigid, even uncomfortable, eating habits to accomplish our goals. We don’t realize that the best strategy for losing weight is to gradually change our attitudes toward food, rather than bouncing from one “fad diet” to another.
It’s not necessary to limit our diet to only a few foods to lose weight. Of course, some foods are more healthful than others, and it is true that we won’t lose weight unless we take in fewer calories than we use. But we can maximize the nutritional value of the calories we do eat and feel comfortable while losing weight.
Here are some guidelines we recommend for your good health and weight loss:
- Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Be adventurous and try unfamiliar varieties. These foods are nutrient-dense and calorie-light, and should form the backbone of your eating plan. Include a salad as part of every dinner.
- Use whole grains, beans, nuts (in moderation), and seeds to provide healthy carbohydrates and fats. Beans and whole grains in combination are powerhouses of protein and dietary fiber and are less expensive than meat.
- Cut down on meats, especially fatty ones like ground beef and processed meats like sausage and cold cuts. These foods burden the body with metabolic waste products and are not needed as protein sources if you are eating beans and grains. If you choose to eat meat, use small amounts as a condiment to provide flavor. Avoid making meat the focus of your meals.
- Avoid processed foods of all kinds, including boxed mixes, and packaged pre-prepared food like TV dinners. These foods are often high in fat and salt, heavy in cheap refined carbohydrates, and don’t contain fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Learn to cook for yourself. Restaurant food, and especially fast food, is nearly always unhealthy. You can make simple stir-fry dishes that are fast and nutritious. Make large batches of time-consuming dishes and freeze some for later.
- Make the transition away from soft drinks and other high-sugar drinks. Drink plenty of water. Get a filter pitcher for your fridge or an under-sink filter if your tap water tastes of chlorine or other minerals. Remember that drinking water from plastic bottles may be good for your body, but it’s hard on the planet.
- Get out and get some fresh air and exercise. Walking is great for you and can be done almost anywhere.
- Enjoy your food! Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are satisfied, and cultivate an attitude of gratitude about food and the pleasures of mealtime.
The above tips are not a recipe for instant weight loss, but instead for the building of a healthy lifestyle. If you focus on health, weight issues will resolve themselves over time, and your life in general will become more joyful. Good luck!