In his guest post below, reader Jack Meyers shares how he stopped his years of “yo-yo dieting” and adapted a lifestyle change based on “clean eating” to maintain his weight and end his battle with binging once and for all! So what about you? Have you lost weight and kept it off by eating a real foods diet? What tips can you share with others who would like to do the same? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below….
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“Striking a Balance with Diet” (by Jack Meyers)
When I first started dieting and exercising six years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I did a little preliminary research, started working out five to six times per week, and restricted myself to 1,500 calories a day. I religiously counted calories, obsessed over the calorie burns on the exercise machines, and always ran into the same problem: inevitably, after a few weeks, I would throw my diet out the window and binge. Fast food, sodas, desserts… you name it, I demolished it during a one- to two-day binge fest before feeling guilty and hopping back on the diet and exercise bandwagon.
It took me a long time to figure out why this kept happening. I obviously didn’t completely lack self-control, because I had enough discipline to get myself to the gym every day and to make “smart” food choices during most weeks. What I lacked was knowledge. I fell victim to the same marketing ploys that many people fall victim to – I saw 100-calorie snacks and equated that with healthy. I saw “low-fat,” “reduced-fat,” and “fat-free” and assumed those were good for me. I completely deprived myself of anything I deemed a “bad” food until I inevitably lost all self-control. I got stuck in this vicious cycle of self-destruction until, one day, I woke up and decided things had to change. In order to maintain a clean diet most of the time without going on binges, I started following these principles:
- Start every day with a healthy, protein-packed breakfast. Cereal may be a typical breakfast food, but unless it’s balanced out with some protein, fresh produce and healthy fats, it’s not going to do much in the way of keeping you full for long; and the simple carbohydrates are going to have you craving more. Instead, I try to eat a balanced breakfast of a mix of eggs and egg whites with veggies, a serving of lean meat, and a side of fruit. The high protein content keeps me full for hours and sets a healthy tone for the day.
- Make it a point to fill half your plate with veggies. Veggies are like a free food as far as I’m concerned. They offer a variety of health benefits, they fill you up, you can prepare them a number of different ways, and they’re low calorie. When it comes to health foods, it doesn’t get much better than that! So every meal I try to stock up on veggies. Not only does it make you feel better, but it makes you want to continue to make good choices.
- Choose the right carbohydrates. When you think of carbs, what do you think of? I used to equate carbs with breads, pastas, and cereals – which are all foods that are packed with preservatives, weird ingredients, and a lot of empty calories that leave me craving more of the same type of carbs. These days, I try to get the majority of my carbs from a much healthier source: fruit. Fruits contain the kind of carbs your body needs, and help satisfy any sweet cravings you may have. The next time you find yourself craving carbs, grab some fresh berries or an apple with natural peanut butter instead.
- Allow a little bit of wiggle room. I typically try to let about 20% of my total diet be up for grabs. That means I try to derive about 80% of my calories from wholesome, real food choices, but I leave a little extra room for a glass of wine one night or a piece of chocolate the next. By allowing a small amount of indulgences into my diet, I’m much less likely to feel deprived and go on a binge.
Once you start eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible, you’ll start to notice a shift in how you feel. You’ll find yourself more energized, more focused, and more alert, and the cravings you have for unhealthy fare will start to diminish – at least it did for me. And by allowing a small amount of room in my diet for my favorite unhealthy foods, I find I’m able to stick to a mostly clean diet pretty easily.
Jack Meyers is a freelance writer and regular contributor at www.nannybackgroundcheck.com/. He has a passion for various subjects like education, career and technology, parenting etc. If you have any questions, email Jack at jackmeyers08 @ gmail.com