Turning Typical Dieting Blunders Into Healthy Lifestyle Choices
With spring and summer peeking in just around the corner, the phrases ‘I’m on a diet’ or getting ‘bikini ready’ are being uttered more frequently. As dietitians we cringe at the word diet and the myth that skinny is healthy. So in an ode to promote healthier lifestyle choices instead of diets or detoxes, here are some ways to improve the nutritional quality of your daily habits.
Develop a solid eating routine. When trying to ‘prep’, ‘diet’, or ‘detox’ for the warmer seasons – a common road people take is to decrease the amount of calories/food that they eat. While it seems to make sense that eating less will make you lose more weight – often times we see the opposite effect or the ‘bottoming out’ effect – when we under-eat during the day and then end up over-eating in the evenings to make up for our lack of fuel during the day. Consistent eating patterns are key to maintaining healthy energy, weight, and blood sugar levels throughout the day. Aim to plan meals and/or snacks consistently throughout the day, about every 3-4 hours.
Choose high quality protein sources. Another common dieting mishap includes consuming insufficient amounts of quality protein sources. While it is wonderful to increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains into your daily routine – balancing these with high quality protein sources is equally as important. Aim to include a lean protein source with each of your meals and/or snacks. For example, add grilled chicken or hard boiled eggs to your salad, have peanut butter along with your apple snack, add beans/lentils/ground turkey to soups. By adding lean, high quality protein sources, you will feel fuller longer and protect/support lean muscle tissue.
Cardio is the glorified type of exercise for weight loss. What many people forget to include into their routine is regular resistance/strength training. Yes, cardio helps you burn calories – but doing that in combination with muscle strengthening activities only adds more health benefits including toning muscles, promoting a healthy weight, improving mood, stress-relief, and decreasing your risk of disease – to name a few.
So as the weather slowly starts to warm up (excluding this upcoming week – Chicago seasons are unpredictable) challenge yourself to not only make changes for the summer, but lifestyle changes that will last you year-round.