Ditch the diet

One of the most empowering things you can do for your personal well-being is to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Over the course of our lives, many of us have probably restricted caloric intake, avoided certain foods, weighed portions or experimented with other restrictive ways to lose unwanted weight.

But by some estimates, up to 80% of people who lose 10% of their body weight will eventually regain that weight and more.1 And while dieting isn’t the cause of eating disorders, 35% of dieters progress to pathological dieting, and 20-25% of those individuals develop eating disorders.2

Focusing on eating good, healthy food that fuels your body and mind is a more empowering (and delicious!) approach to eating. When you look at food as a tool that helps you move, think and live a healthy life, it’s easier to see it as a friend and not an enemy — and  easier to stay motivated to choose foods that are good for you.

May 6 is No Diet Day, so now is a great time to start rethinking your relationship with food, planning healthy and delicious meals and focusing on all the benefits of eating nutrition-packed foods.

What should I eat?

A healthy diet is one that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, which are packed with nutrients including antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; whole grains including whole grain bread, brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal and hulled barley; and protein including legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meats, and lower fat milk and yogurt.3 As far as hydration goes, water is always a better choice than sugary drinks.

Heart and Stroke Canada, American Heart Association and British Heart Foundation each have great information on healthy eating basics and the benefits of focusing on a healthier diet.

Strategies for healthy eating

  • Make sure you always have healthy options in your fridge and pantry. A container filled with cleaned and prepped veggies and a crisper drawer packed with apples, oranges, pears, and other fruit means you’ll always have something quick and healthy to grab for a snack.
  • Reframe your thinking so food isn’t the bad guy. Instead of saying things like, “I’ll never snack between meals,” say, “I will choose healthy snacks that fuel my body and keep me satisfied between meals.”
  • Savor your food. Instead of eating quickly and without paying attention, try to slow down and savor every bite. Increasing the enjoyment you get out of eating healthy food options can help motivate you to choose them more often.
  • Make your own food. Meals cooked from scratch are much better for you than takeout and processed foods such as frozen pizza, canned pasta and other ready-made options. As often as you can, make your meals from scratch with fresh, whole foods.
  • Make big batches of healthy food. Having leftovers you can put away for another day makes choosing a healthy meal on a busy day much easier.
  • Steer clear of “diet” foods. Foods billed as low-fat, fat-free and low-calorie usually have their fat content reduced. But to make the food more palatable, they are often loaded with sugar and other ingredients making these foods higher in calories than their full-fat counterparts.4

Show me some healthy recipes!

Visit Canada’s Food guide, Food Network Canada, Heart and Stroke Canada, American Heart Association, USDA and Food Network for some delicious and healthy recipes your family will love!

Remember, a healthy body doesn’t look a specific way or fit into a specific pant size. It’s one that moves regularly, is fueled by healthy food and visits the doctor for regular maintenance. Letting go of preconceived notions about what you think you should look like and focusing instead on the way your body feels will help you make healthy choices that simply make you feel good.

SOURCES

1 https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20161014/how-your-appetite-can-sabotage-weight-loss#1  

2 https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/special-issues/dieting

3 https://www.heartandstroke.ca/healthy-living/healthy-eating/healthy-eating-basics

4 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-eating-tips#TOC_TITLE_HDR_19

419841 CAN/US (05/21)