Whether we like it or not, we live in a world of social media. It exposes us to new trends and fads on a daily basis. This exposure affects the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the things we say, and of course, what we eat. While you're scrolling though Facebook you see you friend is now following an "organic raw vegan diet" claiming he is the healthiest he has ever been. You may now think this is what you need to do to be healthy. The only problem is you like meat, dairy, and cooked food! More and more people are becoming concerned about what they put in their bodies and want to make the right choices. With the internet and seemingly endless sources for information who do you believe, what diet should you follow?
Well, I can start by saying you don't have to follow an organic raw vegan lifestyle, go paleo, or crazy for keto to be healthy. Not only is it torture to cut carbs from your diet and avoid all processed foods, these diets are also hard to follow and have so many restrictions it will make your head spin! In fact, a lot of these diets actually make it easier to deprive your body of essential nutrients, especially if you are not properly educated. So kick those kale smoothies that you hate to the curb and follow these few simple guidelines. I can guarantee you will be well on the road to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Drink more water Sometimes when we feel hungry it is just our body telling us we are thirsty! So instead of grabbing that snack right away, try to drink a glass of water first and see if you change your mind. Want to cut some calories without eliminating any food from your diet? Switching that 20oz bottle of Pepsi with water will save you 250 calories a day! Aim for 64 oz of water per day.
Add more vegetables: Vegetables may not be your favorite, but including more in your diet will add fiber (your gut will thank you) and help fill you up without adding the calories. There are plenty of ways to add more veggies and even "mask" that veggie taste if you're not a fan. Try adding broccoli and tomatoes to your pasta dish or bell pepper and spinach to your omelet. You'll hardly even taste it and it will pack your meals with essential vitamins and minerals you may not regularly get in your diet
Exercise: Wait, before you stop reading this because you think I'm about to tell you to go hop on a treadmill and run 4 miles, just hear me out. People are often discouraged from exercising, believing there is not enough time in their busy schedules. Try some of these simple ways to increase your activity and burn more calories without ever stepping on a dreaded treadmill: Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park in the back of the parking lot, take the "long way" walking to your destination, get off the bus or subway one stop early, or replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. These choices may not seem significant but they add up quickly!
Make balanced meals: Remember that food pyramid you learned in Junior High health class? It has now been replaced with a new and improved model called "myplate" (picture below). This diagram demonstrates the perfect set up for your meals and includes each of the 5 food groups. Including all of these group are important when trying to live a healthy lifestyle and provide our body with the nutrients it needs.
Eat what you love: If you completely deprive yourself of your favorite foods you are setting yourself up for failure. No one can stick to a diet where they eliminate all the things they enjoy. Have that slice of cake you've been craving, but instead of eating the whole slice, cut it in half and serve with some strawberries.
See, aren't these guidelines a lot easier to follow? Making these changes set you on the path to a healthy lifestyle. Make goals you can easily accomplish and go from there, instead of ones that seem out of reach. Try one new vegetable each week, drink 4 more oz of water each day, walk a little further than you did yesterday, include one more food group at dinner. I'm not saying kale smoothies aren't healthy, but wouldn't like to have to your cake, and eat it too?
Taylor Carey, BS-DTR
Morrison Healthcare Dietetic Intern