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I am frequently asked by my clients and audiences what my favorite diet plan is. While it’s a really good question, the answer is not so simple.
I don’t believe in diets. I think they scream deprivation, misery and “temporariness,” if that is a word. Have you ever seen someone thrilled to be “dieting,” excited to be counting calories and starving themselves? I haven’t…
I believe an eating style is likely to be healthier and easier to stick to than a diet. The eating style that is the closest to how I eat and to how I encourage my clients to eat is the Mediterranean eating style. When you eat in this way, you are focusing your food intake on fresh fruits and vegetables, small amounts of protein and whole grains. Absent from the picture are processed and fast foods. No doughnuts in sight, and as I write this on June 1, I am acutely aware today is National Doughnut Day.
I used to love doughnuts. I still do, but they do not love me back. Highly processed ingredients, sugar and trans fats make them a really bad choice for all of us, and believe me, it does come down to choice.
Before you get too hard on yourself that you have no self- control and you make poor food choices that may have packed on extra pounds and may be pushing you on the fast track to diabetes and heart disease, lighten up on yourself and allow me to share with you that processed foods are designed to be hard to resist; in fact, they’re designed to be addictive.
They are not created by accident. They are produced in laboratories and taste tested by humans, including children to find out how much sugar, for instance, we can tolerate in a food before it becomes too sweet and no longer tastes good to us.
This process is diabolical and perhaps some details will be helpful here. In the case of children, they test pudding, for example, with ever increasing amounts of sugar to find out where the sugar amount is perfect. That exact amount of sugar in the food product is called the “bliss point” and that’s exactly what it creates for us. Sugar makes us feel good; it lights up the pleasure centers in our brains. The processed food companies know this, and they tailor their food to us this way. Once they hit that “sweet spot”… gottcha! We love it, and we just have to have more.
Now that you have perhaps a better understanding of why we are where we are with our SAD, or Standard American Diet, I want to circle back to the Mediterranean style of eating which promotes consuming whole, unprocessed foods; foods that do not come in a box and do not contain preservatives few of us non-scientists can pronounce that make their frankenfood last for several years on a shelf in the store or in your pantry.
Another way there is a sharp difference between the SAD diet and the Mediterranean eating style is in the oils that are used. Processed food companies use partially hydrogenated oil because they are cheap and because the process they go through to create them means they have a longer shelf life. Can you see this is all about their profit as opposed to being about your health?
The Mediterranean style of eating uses healthy oils like olive oil, avocados and coconut oil. The fact is we need healthy fats to keep our brains healthy. Did you know your brain is more than 60 percent fat? It’s true. We did ourselves and our brains some serious damage during the no fat, low fat craze of a few years ago. It’s important to include healthy fats in our daily food intake to maintain healthy brains, good memory and good cognitive function.
When I plan a meal, I like to remember Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s mantra that “the salad is the main dish.” This helps keep front and center in your mind what should make up most of your meal. Vegetables are always a great choice, and don’t forget to be creative with your salads. They are not just lettuce, tomato and cucumbers anymore. You can add fruits and melon, cooked wild or black rice, carrots, nuts, seeds, beets, olives…use your imagination, and make it a feast for the eyes with beautiful colors as well as different flavors and textures.
Visualization is important when you’re goal is a healthy eating style. Observation is important as well. Become aware of the fast food restaurants advertising on television. I have one particular one in mind. The woman is lovely and friendly in her invitation to eat her food and in her description of how delicious it is. The visual aspect of the meal is beige…just beige…with nothing green or of any other color at all on the plate. The meat is fried in a beige batter, the biscuits and gravy are also beige. I can’t remember if there’s anything else included, but I can guarantee that if there is, it is beige.
The next time you make a meal, be acutely aware of the colors on your plate. Be aware if the salad or the vegetable portion of the meal fills the main portion of your plate. If you see colors and you can say “yes” to the largest portion of the meal being salad or veggies, you are on your way to the easy way of eating to be healthy. If you follow this simple advice and practice portion control — that is, you don’t eat until you’re stuffed –you will be well on your way to helping your body to find its perfect weight and to give your body the tools (read that as whole, healthy food) it needs to heal itself.
Now you know what my favorite diet plan is. Our bodies are designed to heal and to save us. Just focus on giving your wonderful machine the fuel it needs to properly do its job. Following a Mediterranean style of eating is a great step in the right direction.
This article was originally published on my site at http://thinstronghealthy.com/my-favorite-diet-plan/
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show, Thin Strong Healthy, airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com Cheryl offers ongoing information and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor. She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.
Questions? Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line. Your question and its answer will be included in a future article
P.S. Check out all the free recipes for great tasting healthy eating in the Recipe Section at http://ThinStrongHealthy.com