When it comes to health and weight loss the “diet” part can seem like a war. However, it does not have to be all in or all out. Focus on the ‘big picture items’, these are things that make up the bulk of what you eat and have the largest impact on your health and waistline. When those are mastered, you can pay more attention to the ‘small details’ and do some fine tuning to help with those last pesky pounds. With that being said you should always keep in mind that it’s more about give and take than take away all of your favourite foods.
Everyone has certain foods or habits that they will never be able to fully eliminate from their diet, and that is ok! When it comes to the larger picture of your health and body composition, the little things you enjoy are not going to be as big of a factor as you may think.
In fact, as long as you focus most of your energy on ensuring the ‘big picture items’ are taken care of, you can be more lenient with the rest of your diet (exercise also contributes to how lenient you can be with your diet – but more on this another day, another blog). This is not to tell you that if you eat a salad with some chicken for lunch that you can eat junk food for the rest of the day, this is to tell you that you can feel good about the good choices you do make, without beating yourself up for not being perfect.
Now, before I get too deep into this post you are probably wondering what are the ‘big picture items’ ? I will give you some examples below. Basically they are the BIG NUTRITION DO’s that every healthy diet should include.
Examples of big keys:
* Drinking an adequate amount of water (2-3L)
* Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits (try to get one or the other in every meal/ snack)
* Eating a serving of protein at every meal
And ‘small details’ are things that are still important, but if you currently have not mastered the big picture items, then there is no use worrying about them.
Examples of small details:
* Drinking diet pop
* Eating white bread or pasta instead of whole wheat everything
* Using cream in your coffee
* Having a glass of wine at dinner every now and then
Furthermore, remember that everything must be within reason, you can’t tell me one of your “small details” is that you eat a tub of Ben & Jerry’s every night before bed, and then wonder why your pants aren’t getting any looser. It’s about making overall healthier choices, minimizing the unhealthy choices and not about giving up everything all at once.
Now, I want you to look at your nutrition habits – which “big picture items” need a little bit more work? Are you getting in 5 or more servings of vegetables everyday? Do you need to add a little protein to your breakfast? Etc.. Focus on one at a time, this way you can make sure that each items gets properly integrated into your lifestyle and you will have more success.
Ok, now you have some big goals; great! I totally believe that you can add in these new healthy choices to your lifestyle without much trouble. It may take a bit of working reminders at first – but soon they will become second nature!
So, let’s say it’s been a few months and you have started drinking an average of 3L of water a day, you get protein in at every meal and are eating 6+ servings of veggies a day, you’ve lost a fair amount of weight and most importantly feel amazing… But now you’ve plateaued, this is when you want to be a bit more strict with your small details and start to either slowly limit them or pick and choose which ones you can live without (everyone now and then) first.
So where to start? Think about the habits that you currently have that you could adjust… Ok, so you can’t give up the cream and sugar in your coffee, but maybe you could cut back to half the amount? You absolutely need to have a snack before bed – no problem, just swap out the tub of ice cream for some yogurt and berries!
Whatever the habit is, I guarantee you that there is a healthier option – you may just need to get creative!
Just make sure when you start hammering down on of those small details , you also keep focused on the big picture items or else those little details won’t be very effective!
Lastly, the whole goal with eating healthy (even if your main goal is to look better) is to feel better. So don’t beat yourself up for those little habits that you can’t seem to shake yet, and be proud of yourself for all of the larger picture items that you are implementing.
Trust me, you don’t need to give up your favourite foods to live a healthier life and achieve your goals!