As the new year approaches, talk of dieting is on the rise. Whether it is keto, counting macros, vegan, raw, plant-based, Atkins, low-carb, low-fat, fasting, blood-type diet, etc., many Americans will begin their "new year, new me" in just a couple of days. Now, I have already written a post on why I don't believe in diets (which you can read here), but I wanted to offer you three tips for making healthy choices, without restriction, deprivation, or stress...which brings me to the three P's: permission, pause, and plate.
Permission. I recommend giving yourself permission to eat all foods all of the time. Yes, all foods, including treats. Many people who start a new diet, will overindulge in "forbidden" foods before starting a new diet and may binge on them when they "fall off the wagon". Don't give yourself a wagon to fall off of. Allow yourself to have that after dinner cookie, that cake at a birthday party, and that glass of wine during girl's night. Nothing worse goes with food than guilt, so savor your food, enjoy it, and make it an experience. Sit down when eating. Eat without being on a screen. Don't see food as good or bad - food is just food, and will be used for fuel regardless if its a salad, sandwich, or cupcake.
Pause. When eating food, take a second to check in with yourself and pause to ask: "Am I hungry?", "Does this taste good or do I want something else?", "How will I feel after I eat this?", "Do I actually like this?". It does not have to be obvious, but giving yourself that quick pause brings mind and body into the eating experience. It is so common that we eat what other people are eating and in the amount they are eating because we are relying on external cues to tell us what we should have and/or if we have had enough. Make overeating a conscious decision. Take that power back and be in charge of your own eating. Easier said than done, but start small. Consider choosing one meal a day when you pause and check in, and gradually add more meals as you continue to feel comfortable.
Plate. Use your plate as a tool for making pretty balanced meals. Strive for at least 3 food groups at meals (carbohydrates/starches, protein, fruits, vegetables, and dairy/non-dairy fortified alternatives). Starches include breads, grains, potatoes, cookies, cakes, and pastas. Proteins can be nuts, seeds, meats/meat alternatives, greek yogurt, beans, eggs, and legumes. Dairy can be cheese, yogurt, milk, and ice cream. If you're at a party and have a cookie, seek out some protein like mixed nuts or some meat, add veggies and dip, and bam you have a balanced meal. This visual can help balance out your plate, avoiding blood sugar from spiking, and making you feel fuller for longer.
Make 2020 the year you give up dieting once and for all and focus on life-long behaviors that will deliver life-long results. I hope you remember to allow yourself permission without guilt, pausing to check in with yourself at meals, and striving for a balanced plate to help you reach your nutrition and health goals.
Wishing you good health and happiness into the new year,