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SALT LAKE CITY — It's February now, 30-plus days into 2016. How are you doing on your New Year's resolutions or your health and fitness goals?
Are you enjoying the changes you've made? Are you enjoying the benefits you're getting from exercising and/or eating better? Or have you quit because your diet isn't working for you? Or even worse, do you find yourself in the midst of a plan that makes you hate life?
Resolutions aside, diets don't work. The diet and nutritional supplement industry is a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about two-thirds of the adult population is overweight and one-third is obese.
These stats tell me all these diets and nutritional supplements don't help a majority of people lose weight — and keep it off. And, I'm happy to report that it's not you, it's the diet. A majority of the popular diets now are diets focusing on restriction and deprivation, neither of which set us up for long-term success or adherence. We've been conditioned to believe that there ain't no gain without a lot of pain.
Again, that's just not true. Realistically, how likely are you to follow a plan long term that you hate? I wouldn't last long.
This is where my favorite Tim Gunn quote comes in. As a longtime "Project Runway" viewer, I've seen Gunn tell many a contestant to "make it work." They are asked to use their creative juices and voices to create something spectacular. This is what you should do. Use your lifestyle and food preferences to find ways to eat healthier. No gimmicks; no major deprivation; just making more beneficial food choices. Current dieting trends would tell us that this is just too simplistic a view, but again, are those trends helping Americans get healthier? They're helping some people, but not too many, so maybe simple is better.
Try these simple tips to start out:
1. Follow the plate method
Fill half of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables. That's right, tater tots and sweet potatoes aren't considered nonstarchy vegetables. Follow this method at least for lunch and dinner. Kudos to you if you add veggies to your breakfast.
2. Eat those vegetables first
Think about it, vegetables give you that volume without a lot of calories. Stock up on these fiber filled gems before you move on to the more calorie dense foods.
3. Choose whole grains over refined grains
Whole grains are better sources of fiber, protein and healthier fats. All of these components help fill us up. If you eat mindfully, you can cut down on your portion, yet still feel satisfied because of all that fiber, protein and fat.
4. Eat mindfully. Pay attention to your food
The psychology of eating tells us that we're way more prone to overeat when we aren't paying attention to what or how much we're eating. Try to make eating the focus of your mealtimes. Put down the remote, phone or work for mealtimes. Eating mindfully looks like you're enjoying your food; you're paying attention to your food; you're savoring each bite; and eating slower. Eating mindfully helps you eat less, yet still feel satisfied afterward. Isn't that what everyone wants? Besides, eating mindfully takes out the deprivation piece. If you eat what you want, and just enough to be satisfied, you'll likely be consuming fewer calories.
5. Try new foods and new preparation methods
Just like kids, we need to be exposed to foods a number of times before we develop preferences for them. Having a palate for a variety of foods makes eating healthy easier because there are more options. Say you tried steamed Brussels sprouts years ago and they were gross. Try roasting them. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Long story short, don't make eating healthy so complicated or so restrictive. Just start out by eating those nonstarchy vegetables, try new foods and work toward eating more mindfully. I promise that you will enjoy your food more, and actually feel satisfied after a meal, a meal that will probably be smaller than normal.
Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian. She blogs over at betrulynourished.com, works at the University of Utah at a health and fitness testing facility, as a clinical inpatient hospital dietician, and is currently pursuing a Master's degree.