Healthy eating is about more than calories or following the latest dietary fad. Trends come and go. Healthy bodies have been around for thousands of years, before there were magic bullets for instant fat loss marketed on major television stations or promising easy weight loss in flashy colors on the pages of magazines. By embracing your individuality, and learning how to apply the five keys of healthy eating to your own lifestyle, you can transcend these temporary fads and ease into a lifelong habit of living lean.
1. Enjoy what you eat
Whether someone is following the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, the advice contained in Tom Venuto's e-Book, "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle" or even a program of their own design, success depends on enjoying what you eat. When you don't enjoy your food, you resist it. Resistance creates stress and stress is counter-productive to fat loss. It is important to look at eating as a part of your life, not a chore that interrupts your life.
The question ultimately becomes, "How do I learn to enjoy healthy foods?" Most people did not enjoy their first cup of coffee or can of beer. What happened is that in their environment, external pressures - stress, fatigue, peer pressure - created a desire to enjoy that steaming hot espresso or to be able to chug down a draught of beer with the best of their buddies. Eventually, a strange thing happened - when the coffee cup was repeatedly associated with more energy or productivity, or simply the pleasure of settling down to read something while draining the cup, or when the beer became associated with fun times and great parties, they "acquired a taste."
You can acquire a taste for healthy foods. It is important to understand how you operate, to determine if it makes sense to go "cold turkey" or transition. Many people cling to diets that allow "free days" or "gorge fests" because they never really learn to enjoy the healthy food - they need the psychological crutch of getting comfortable again (if comfortable means bloated and nauseous from overeating junk food) and live from "free day" to "free day." Is this you? If so, you might start transitioning and looking for an alternative. Instead of a free day, how about this: have a few free meals and then focus on enjoying the food that you consume throughout the week. Experiment with new recipes. Don't like raw vegetables? Try steamed. Don't like them plain? Spice them up. As you lose weight and gain energy, focus on the connection between your healthy foods and your new physique. Before long, you might even "acquire a taste" for healthy foods.
2. Believe in what you are doing
Belief is an important component of any lifestyle. If you don't believe what you are doing will work, why should you continue to do it? Often times, the lack of belief is not in the program you are following, but rather in yourself. Food is an addiction that is no different than addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, or illegal drugs. To overcome this addiction, the first place to look is within you. Without faith, you are going to allow fear to maneuver you into a position to binge, overeat, and sabotage yourself.
When you don't believe, you simply "do." It is a frustrating concept, especially for analytical people, because they want to have a simple set of rules. It is easy as an analytical person to get into your comfort zone. Find an equation that spits out a number of calories. Get a "ratio" of foods - 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat, right? Then you have that exact formula and you are ready to go. Unfortunately, if it were that simple, more people would be sharing their success story (and their formulas) with everyone else.
The fact is that it is not the calorie or the formula or the ratio that determines your success. It is you. Whether you are on a high protein, low fat, no-sugar, or other program, your success will be determined by the level of your belief. I have witnessed people achieve success using many different nutrition styles, and the common element that linked their success was belief. If you asked them, "Will you lose your weight," they would reply, "Absolutely." If you cannot state that without confidence, it is time to find something you can believe in ... and more often than not, it will not be a new program, but you. Believe in you.
We will cover the next three keys in part II