Over the past couple of weeks we broke down dieting and nutrition to its basic elements. We discussed how food is really fuel for your body and what you should aim to get out of the food you eat. We talked about identifying the premium fuel your body needs to run at tip top shape. Then we discussed how you can figure out exactly how much food your body needs to run and how to tweak it to make sure you aren’t eating too much or too little. Today’s blog is all about making sure your diet works for you.
When it comes to dieting, the biggest misconception is that it is black and white. There are right and wrong. Yes and no. In reality, this isn’t the case. Dieting is not meant to be black and white; there are a lot of grey areas. With grey area comes complication and I can already hear some of you saying to yourself it’s too hard. Here’s the thing: your “diet” isn’t a short term thing. Your diet is just your eating habits. If you go on a “diet” it just means you are changing your eating habits. So we are all dieting all of the time. Once you embrace this idea, then making your diet work for you is so much easier.
So let’s get into it. “How exactly am I supposed to make my diet work for me?” I can hear you wonder to yourself – great question! Let me answer. When it comes to being better with your diet, there are a few primary principals that we need to understand, and then after that it’s all about adjusting them for what’s most practical for you. Another way to think about it is not sweating the small stuff.
For example, some people don’t like black coffee, so they add sweetener. “But heavens to Betsy! That’s not Paleo!” Well, that’s alright, it’s pretty insignificant compared to your total daily consumption. Here’s the thing: Assuming you are eating THE RIGHT amount of calories, and getting proper amounts of macro and micronutrients, well then a little sweetener here and there isn’t going to kill you. In reality, what kills you is when you eat a 350 calorie coffee (smoothie) from Starbucks every morning or a 300 calorie candy bar at the office every afternoon.
That’s really the whole idea behind the “greyness” of dieting. I’ve already gone over the primary principles with you – eat whole foods with lots of micronutrients, and eat the right amount of macronutrients. Eat the RIGHT amount of calories to achieve your goals, not more and not less. If you are doing that, then you can be flexible. There is wiggle room for a little reward here and there and you don’t have to take the enjoyment out of eating to be successful.
The last point I want to drive home is this – your diet is a long term thing. It’s not something to be perfected overnight. It’s something that you should constantly evaluate, tweak, adjust and experiment with over time. See what works for you and what doesn’t. You might find something that works great for one person doesn’t work at all for you (Diary, anyone?). Enjoy your journey with your diet and don’t beat yourself up if you mess it up. If you find out you are doing something wrong, don’t sweat it – it can be corrected. Enjoy the journey and let your food work for you!