If you’ve ever been on a diet (and seriously – who among us hasn’t?), you were undoubtedly given a laundry list of foods that you weren’t allowed to eat, period. You know, the stuff like alcohol and bread and cupcakes and chocolate.
These types of diets are simple to follow in the short term, like if you’re aiming to fit into your favourite clingy dress or pair of skinny jeans in time for your hot weekend date. But maintaining a restrictive diet in the long term is a whole other story – and depriving yourself of the foods you love will only compel you to binge later and completely derail your health and diet goals.
I’ve seen this time and time again with my clients, and that’s why I’ve developed a better way to eat – a method that will leave you feeling satisfied, yet still help you drop those unwanted pounds.
Here are some of my best strategies that can help you eat well and lose weight, too.
1. Plan Ahead.
If you’re heading out for an evening meal with friends or attending a Saturday night dinner party, you need to plan for more than what heels to wear with that skirt you just snagged on sale!!
Organize your meals and snacks for the day leading up to the dinner or event. Load up on good sources of protein like nuts, seeds, legumes, or lean meat and fish, healthy fats such as avocado, chia, olive oil or coconut oil, and lots and lots of veggies.
Don’t starve yourself in preparation for the evening ahead – this will only lead to trouble, like scarfing every single piece of bread in the basket. Eat two solid meals and a snack or two. This will keep your blood sugar balanced, which will keep cravings in check and allow you to make sensible choices at dinnertime.
2. Wine and Carbs: Choose one or the other, not both.
I believe that we can achieve balance by eating a wide variety of foods – but that doesn’t mean we should eat every single type of food at once!
Alcoholic choices like red wine can be part of a healthy lifestyle, believe it or not. Wine is packed with antioxidants, which help protect our bodies from damage and exert anti-aging effects. However, if you want to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, I recommend skipping the heavy carbs like bread or pasta. When we drink alcohol, our livers get to work on processing and detoxing the alcohol first – and this leaves the carbs languishing, which means they are more likely to be stored as fat.
Instead, choose lean proteins, vegetables and healthy fats as companions to your glass of wine.
3. Request Healthier Substitutions.
Healthy eating has grown in popularity, and that means many restaurants offer a myriad of nutritious alternatives. Skip the white rice and ask for brown rice or quinoa, swap the bread or corn tortillas for lettuce wraps, exchange cream sauce for tomato sauce, and substitute fries for salad. Ask for sauces or gravies on the side, so you can add less if you want to. We’re aiming for quality, not quantity, and that means consuming complex, nutrient-rich foods that will be nourishing and satisfying, instead of filling up on empty calories.
Just remember to ask nicely – servers will appreciate it, plus you’ll make things easier for the next person at your table who’s trying to eat out and be healthy at the same time!
4. Eat Mindfully.
What is the point in eating a delicious meal if you rush through it, or are plagued with guilt as you consume it?
It’s incredibly important to eat mindfully, which will lead to more enjoyment, self-confidence and satisfaction.
Eating mindfully means slowly taking in the entire experience of eating. Inhale the aroma of your food, notice how beautiful it looks on your plate, touch it to see how it feels (if appropriate, that is!) and even notice the sounds around you – sizzling, laughter, clinking glasses, etc. Chew your food slowly and methodically, roll it around on your tongue to get the full effect of its flavour and texture.
Eating in this way definitely takes practice, but it’s worth it – and I know you’ll see the results on the scale, too.
5. Remember to Exercise.
A night out doesn’t mean that you can forgo your regular exercise routine – but you also shouldn’t punish yourself for your fancy night out, either.
A regular exercise habit – whether it’s walking daily, hitting the gym, attending a yoga class or going dancing with your friends – can boost your metabolism and allow you to consume calories more effectively. That’s because muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells do – even when you aren’t exercising.
For more information about how to design the best workout for you, check out my personal training services.
6. Eat at Home Regularly.
A night on the town is important for your wellbeing, but eating out shouldn’t be your routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try to eat out a couple of times a week, and cook the remainder of your meals at home in your own kitchen. The 80/20 rule applies here: eat 80% of the time at home, and 20% away from home.
Plus, if you eat at restaurants less, dinners out will become much more special!
7. Enjoy Yourself and Have Fun.
Stress can be extremely disruptive to our health and weight loss goals, leading to hormone imbalances that can cause weight gain.
So have fun when you go out! Enjoy that glass of wine, savor your chocolate soufflé and delight in the company of those you love. Your waistline will thank you for it!