Simple Steps To Transition To Healthy Eating
One of your goals for 2020 may be to adopt more healthy eating.
But for many, it’s an area that they slip up on regularly.
Whether that’s the Saturday night wine, Chinese takeaway or raiding the chocolate aisles in the supermarket.
We all have the best of intentions for being healthy, but life gets in the way.
Stress accumulates, finances get us down, bad days come about or we just lose that bit of will power and indulge.
But, there’s good news.
We’re only human.
Mistakes and slip ups happen.
It’s a case of focusing on the long term progress rather than a single day or week.
Aim for progress over weeks and months.
And aim to avoid going from 0 to 100.
Instead, go from zero to 10, then 20, then 30.
Build up to ensure long-term success.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at ways to transition to healthy eating.
1. Cut Back On The Junk Food
I know, you’ve been told that a million times.
Yet, those KitKats seem to find their way out of the press at 9pm.
Or you eat really well for the week, then suddenly you’ve desert on Saturday evening and the guilt hits you.
“I’ve made a balls of it” you think and suddenly you’re swelled with Maltesers as you lie on the couch all because you convinced yourself you had ruined the diet.
However, if you look above, I say cut BACK on the junk food.
Not, cut OUT the junk food.
Unless your plan is to become stage-lean (ya know, like bodybuilders or bikini competitors) then you probably don’t need to go 100% into nothing but healthy foods.
80-90% of your weekly meals should be based on lean protein sources, various vegetables and then some fats and carbs.
The other 10% can then go towards having desert with the family on a Sunday or going a little off plan for a Saturday-night-in meal. (having breaded chicken rather than chicken fillets etc).
Being honest, allowing yourself to have that 10% of your weekly intake towards some indulgences will likely lead to improved adherence.
You spend less time hating your diet and gives you that mental satisfaction of having something sweet or savoury.
But, be sure to control your treats so it doesn’t turn into a binge.
Overall, cut back on the biscuits with cups of tea, the bar of chocolate and crisps from the petrol station or lobbing cake into you at Friday lunch.
And watch out for liquid calories too!
Which brings me to the next phase.
2. Track Your Calories For 1-2 Weeks
To get in super shape, you need to manipulate calories and macronutrients to alter your body composition.
But, if you’re more interested in getting away from the Stop/Start dieting, then you won’t need to go that deep into calorie tracking, yet.
Instead, tracking your food/calories for a period of 2 weeks is an excellent exercise to undertake.
Not only will it open your eyes as to how much you are eating, but it will also give you clarity of the calorie content of certain foods too.
And hopefully, you’ll immediately see areas where you can improve on so that you bring your calories to a range where you can lose weight consistently without dieting too hard. (hunger levels through the rood and looking forward to quitting the diet).
Use the MyFitnessPal app to log your food intake daily and you will then see your average intake once you’ve 7 to 14 days done.
If you’re losing weight now that you’ve cleaned up your diet a bit, great! Keep on going at that.
If you’re maintaining your weight, start with a 10 to 20% reduction in calories until you see a 1 – 2 lb weight loss per week.
Please bear in mind, you WILL have good weeks and bad weeks, so allow for fluctuations in weight due to fluid, time of the month etc.
Once you get a steady intake of calories that suits your goals, you can just replicate those days and weeks.
If you see a plateau of more than 2 weeks, you can simply track calories again to see if your portion sizes have creeped back up or if there’s unnecessary indulgences.
Improve Food Quality
By now, you’ll have tidied up your diet by cutting back on junk food AND you’ve brought your food intake down to suit your calorie requirements to see weight loss.
But, you can’t just eat all your calories in pizza and crisps.
While running a calorie deficit ensures weight loss, it doesn’t mean health.
So, now you should look at improving food quality to match your goal of healthy eating.
Swapping breaded chicken and fish for the unbreaded fillet is a good start.
Making sure you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day.
Plenty of water too, approximately 1 litre of fluids for every 23-25kg you weight. Coffee and tea will add towards this too!
Focus on keeping the core of your diet to a variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
That way, you’ll ensure you’re getting a good balance of vitamins and micronutrients along with your protein, fats and carbs.
Then, you can allow a small bit of pizza/wine or chocolate, once it’s a controlled manner and not a free-for-all.
Fine Tune Your Macronutrients
Okay, so this would be the final stage.
Being honest, by focusing on the first 3 things there will get many people to where they’d like to be – happy with what they see in the mirror.
But, for those looking to push on and unearth new levels of leanness, you can look at fine tuning your macronutrients.
By that, I mean focusing on a balance of Protein, Fat and Carbs.
For Protein, 1g per 1lb of body weight is a good rule of thumb for those lifting weights on a regular basis and playing sports.
Fat, you can start off with your intake at about 20-25% of your calories and aim to get it from real food sources.
For Carbs, take the remainder of your calories and use carb sources to fill those up.
Remember, Protein has 4kcals per gram, Carbs 4g per gram and Fat has 9kcals per gram.
Say you’re on a 2,000kcal diet and weigh 150lbs.
150lbs x 1 = 150g of Protein x 4kcals = 600kcals.
2,000 x 25% = 500kcals / 9kcals = 55g Fat.
That leaves 900kcals for Carbs / 4kcals = 225g Carbs per day.
That’s a simplistic approach there.
For those who would rather a slightly lower carb approach, transfer those calories to Fat.
Protein will always remain a constant in your diet, whereas you can manipulate your fat and carb intake.
Hope that helps on your pursuit of healthy eating.