Dieting basics will get one started on the road to healthy eating. January has gone and my New Year’s resolution to become a healthier version of myself is right on track. Although setting New Year’s resolutions often don’t work, I did find that the process of setting a goal this year helped me imagine how I wanted to be in the near future. It’s never too late to set a goal for yourself, and you don’t need a new year to do so—especially if it helps you to achieve something beneficial and positive.
If losing weight in a healthy manner is a goal you would like to set for yourself this year, then how do you begin? After all, the “breaking news” in nutrition and dieting is always changing. But there are some basic principles that you can be aware of as you proceed on your journey.
1. Know where you are today. It’s always important to know where you are starting from so you have a baseline and a point of reference. Get yourself a notebook or journal and keep track of everything you eat for three days. You might be amazed at how much food you put in your mouth in an unconscious manner. What happens when you’re cooking a meal? Are you tasting and eating the food before you sit down to dinner? How do you deal with the free food samples at the supermarket? By the time I finish shopping at Costco I might have eaten a complete meals including dessert!
2. Be aware of your eating patterns. As you read over your journal become aware of your patterns and the foods that are problematic for you. For example, if you find that you are eating a lot of chocolate or candy daily, you might make a decision to limit yourself to one really excellent piece of chocolate a day.
3. Expend more calories than you eat. Losing weight is simply a matter of not eating more calories than you are expending. Start by reducing your calorie intake by 100 calories a day. That might mean eating a huge salad for lunch rather than a sandwich. In a month you will have lost a pound without much effort. That adds up to 12 pounds in a year!
4. Incorporate some type of exercise into your daily routine. Commit to a goal of walking outside and being in nature. It will become a routine that you won’t want to miss. Begin by walking 15 minutes daily.
5. Eat foods from the major food groups. Whenever I think about eating a healthy diet, I include foods from all of the major food groups. That means that every day your diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, nuts, seeds, and some healthy fat. Eat lots of whole foods.
6. Clean out your refrigerator. Remove and throw out any foods that are triggers for you. Read the labels and get rid of candy, chips and crackers.
Always check with your doctor or health professional before you start any weight lost program. Remember that you are your best advocate and you are in control of who you are and how you feel. Losing weight and getting healthy is a process and can become part of your life. Everyone can get there.