Let’s be honest: it can be exhausting trying to stick to a diet. And not just exhausting, no fun, either. Even if you’re not on an actual diet, it can frankly just be exhausting trying to be “good” with your eating habits!
The problem with being “good” all the time, is that, well, we weren’t made to be good all the time…so if you’re incredibly strict with yourself 100% of the time, chances are increased that when you splurge, you SPLURGE in a way that might actually be detrimental – rather than the more regular, planned splurge in moderation that leaves you happier anymore satisfied all the time.
The good news is, Fitness Magazine acknowledges this, and has done a little research to help us out. “A black-and-white ‘This is good, this is bad’ mentality sets you up for failure,” says Judith Beck, PhD, author of The Beck Diet Solution. “With one minor dietary infraction, the mind-set becomes ‘I’ve blown it, so I might as well keep going.'”
Rather than stick to a black and white, good and bad, yes-I-can-eat and no-I-can-never-touch-this-food, diet, it turns out it might actually help you in the long run to break some diet rules! Not only will it help your sanity, let’s be honest – it’s much more fun, and can help you reach your goals!
To sum up, Fitness Magazine has pulled together the:
8 Diet “Rules” That Were Made to be Broken!
1. Don’t eat red meat: Red meat gets a bad rap, and it’s no fair. All red meat tends to get lumped into the artery-clogging category, even though in general it’s just certain, fattier cuts that we should be avoiding (think “prime” cuts – high in saturated fat). Red meat, at the end of the day, is a protein – and so, like all proteins, takes longer to digest and so can actually keep us fuller longer, preventing additional eating. So it’s okay to splurge on a burger sometimes – or better yet, make red meat part of a weekly meal at home so you can really control it!
- eat lean cuts like “rounds” or “loins” (tenderloin, sirloin)
- eat ground beef with less than 5% fat, and check your source – look for organic, grass-fed, preferably local, meat
- keep your serving size to 5 ounces or less (about the size of a deck of cards)
2. Don’t eat after dinner: Again, there are some misconceptions at play here: there’s no magical metabolism slow-down that happens after dinner or after 9 PM. This rule gets assumed true because generally because by the time the end of dinner rolls around, most people have already met their necessary calorie intake for the day – and of course, anything above and beyond that is extra calories that, over time, equal extra pounds!
- think of lighter-calorie snacks you can have at night (like 3 cups of air-popped popcorn, or a 1/2 cup of nonfat greek yogurt with fruit) to avoid those typical late-night-bites that are so calorie-heavy that an indulgence will equal weight gain, like chips, ice cream, or a couple brownies…
- save some of your calories for the nighttime, if you know you love to snack then! maybe you have a smaller afternoon snack or smaller dinner, but thinking about reducing calories elsewhere not only helps you snack later at night and stay within your daily calorie goals – it also might prevent you from over-indulging, if you know you’ve only saved a small number of calories!
3. Hold your ground against cravings: In theory, yes, this is great. However, as most of us are familiar with human mentality – this could actually be detrimental in the long run, most likely in one of two ways.
First, if you are depriving yourself of what you really want, you might try to substitute your way out of eating it but actually consume more calories than if you had indulged in the first place: Fitness magazine tells us: “You can try to substitute your way out of a craving, first by noshing on an apple, then a couple of graham crackers, followed by a fat-free pudding. But you’ll probably end up consuming more calories than if you had simply enjoyed a few squares of chocolate or whatever it is you really want, says weight-loss expert Kara Mohr, PhD, owner of the fitness and nutrition company Mohr Results, Inc. “Psychologically, we’re tempted by what we can’t have, which is why deprivation makes us desire ‘forbidden’ foods more than usual,” she says.
Second, as we alluded to above, if you’re in the good/bad, black/white eating zone and you do finally indulge, research shows that you won’t just indulge – you’ll over-indulge. Fitness Magazine tells us “Researchers at the University of Toronto found that women who were deprived of chocolate for a week experienced more cravings and ate more of the sweet stuff than those who weren’t denied it. ”
- Indulge…in moderation. Don’t make chocolate, dessert or peanut butter a 100% no, never having food. Rather, think of a healthy or smaller-portioned way to include this in your diet in a way that doesn’t blow your calorie intake. You’ll mentally feel like you’re indulging and winning…and you will win in the long run, if it’s planned for!
- Not keep your weak spots too close: if you know you just have a weakness for something, don’t always have them readily available! For instance, if peanut butter is your weak spot, just have the natural, single-portioned packets in your pantry rather than jars, or if it’s brownies, don’t always have the mix or ingredients available – make yourself have to go to the store for something. You might just decide it’s too much work and sub in a square of chocolate!
4. Bread is an enemy! Poor whole-grain, complex carbs – they, too, get a seriously bad rap these days and are portrayed as diet detrimental, when in reality, only their simple, refined carb cousins are no good (think white bread, crackers, pastries: they’re the kind of carbs that are digested easily and make you feel hungry again right away, and don’t give you much of the beneficial fiber!). Whole grain, complex carbs, on the other hand, take a long time to digest and are full of fiber: providing you with energy and feeling full longer – helping reduce your snacking later!
- eat whole-grain, complex carbs!
- try lower-calorie versions, if you’d like. Fitness magazine suggests Arnold 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins or Flatout Flatbread’s Healthy Grain Honey Wheat. “With about 100 calories and five or more grams of fiber and protein each, they really are the best things since sliced bread.”
5. Fat is evil, you should be very afraid: Wrong-o! We should know by now that not all fats are created equally, and the unsaturated fats in things like fish, nuts, even peanut butter (nuts, duh!) and olive oil are beneficial for us: they provide omega-3’s, and Fitness magazine tells us they “help your body break down and absorb nutrients like vitamins A and E and beta-carotene in fruits and vegetables.” What’s more – Fitness Magazine also tells us that “one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that you won’t reap the full nutritional rewards of salads and raw veggies without a little healthy fat thrown into the mix.”
That’s not to say fat is your friend. Fat will make you gain weight if you over-indulge – and remember that this is specifying only the healthy fats. There are those fats that are “evil”, like saturated and transfats – they clog arteries and increase risk for heart disease. These kinds are found in a lot of the “faker” foods we shouldn’t be eating too much of anyways like chips, fried foods and fatty meats.
- Eat healthy fats in moderation! And do NOT feel bad about it!
6. Avoid the drive-thru at all costs: True, most foods we could pick up at the drive thru are not so waistline-friendly, but keep in mind that a. there are healthy options there, if you choose wisely, and b. sometimes a real meal will benefit you much more than a “meal” of a smoothie or protein bar that leaves you hungry an hour later!
- Arm yourself with this strategy at the drive-thru, from Fitness Magazine: “‘Skip the cheese, mayo, and creamy sauces; ask for grilled, not fried, dishes; and order the smallest size available — a single hamburger, not a double, and nothing super sized,’ Mohr says. When you pull up to that window, request one of these three picks: a grilled chicken sandwich or a hamburger, either loaded with extra lettuce and tomato; or a salad with grilled chicken (get reduced-fat dressing and forgo croutons and cheese).”
7. Always choose light beer at happy hour: Turns out, the term “light” isn’t regulated – so for a beer to be called light, it only needs to be less in calories than another beer the brand makes. So for instance, a 12 ounce bottle of Bud Light has 110 calories and is only 35 calories less than a Budweiser! What is much more important is that we stop after one round! Fitness Magazine backs this up by telling us “Your system converts any alcohol, even the light stuff, into acetate. Once this substance hits your bloodstream, your body burns it instead of fat for energy, essentially slowing your metabolism and putting the brakes on your weight-loss efforts.”
- Choose what we want, whether it’s a regular beer or glass of wine, because it will satisfy us more!
8. One hundred calorie packs are the best snack: Most of what is turned into a 100-calorie snack pack are snack foods like cookies and crackers that aren’t very good for us. Just because something is only 100 calories doesn’t necessarily make it good for us! Most of these snacks are still packed with artificial sweeteners and transfats, so while it’s good that it is less of the bad things…it’s still not good!
And guess what? These “not good” things aren’t so great on the hunger-fighting front, either! Fitness magazine tells us “You’ll still feel hungry and unsatisfied after eating one of these bags, because it lacks important hunger fighters, like protein and fiber,” J.J. Virgin, a nutrition and fitness expert and author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy explains. So soon enough, you’ll be ready for snack #2!
- six wheat crackers spread with two teaspoons of peanut butter (sandwich them to prevent a mess)
- 15 almonds or 10 cashews
- three-quarters of a cup of blueberries
- 15 chocolate-covered raisins.
To see the full article on Fitness Magazine’s website, go here!