Diet change is always hard and has implications beyond just what you eat. It affects how you feed your family, and how you socialize. But remember: eating healthier makes you feel better, and that stays with you every minute of the day. It is worth it! Do your best and keep making good decisions to improve your diet!
Are you ready to make a healthy change but don’t know where to start? Here are four options.
1: Get Enough of What You Need. The “Good Enough” Diet.
The “Good Enough” diet is my favorite. It means you don’t focus on what you are cutting out; you focus on what you are eating. Your goal is to eat everything you need to make a healthy day. It means that your priority isn’t restricting things, it’s getting enough of the things you need. For this plan, you first identify how much protein, fat, carbs, water, and fiber you need. You make sure that you reach these targets every day. After that, you can eat and drink other things.
The beauty of this is that when you were getting enough healthy things, you don’t have as much room for splurges. You also won’t give in to hunger cravings and make bad decisions due to being ravenous (because you won’t be ravenous!). If you want to splurge, you can! You just won’t want or need to as often.
Another benefit of this approach is that you aren’t going to be deficient in vitamins or nutrients. You’ll be well hydrated, well functioning, and you won’t feel restricted. You’ll be taking in enough protein to build muscle (because you are working out, right?!).
This is the program I usually follow. I get enough of everything I need to nourish my body and grow from my workouts, and I don’t feel guilty if I throw Blue Bell in there.
This is good for it: holidays. A more relaxed time in life. Maintenance or strength phases, since it might be a caloric surplus.
2: Nail Down One Healthy Meal that becomes Easy and Habitual
With this approach, you pick one meal each day that you can commit to eating healthy. This will be the same meal every day. It gives you a foundation upon which to build healthy habits.
Breakfast is a great meal to make your healthy foundation. First, decide your goal for the meal. Let’s say it is 30 g of protein, 40 g of carbs, and 11 g of fat. Build a meal that satisfies those needs. This might be scrambled eggs, sautéed vegetables which you prepared the night before, a piece of toast and half an apple.
Make it simple, doable, and commit to having it every day. This meal serves as the basis for a healthy rest of the day. From there, try to make good choices at lunch and dinner, but if the wheels fall off later in the day, you know you got a healthy breakfast. Regardless of how you eat the rest of the day, when you get home, plan to make your healthy breakfast. That one staple meal is non-negotiable. Do not get lazy with this one.
Some people might want to make their staple meal dinner. If you prefer a light breakfast, and don’t have a problem eating a healthy lunch, dinner might be the better option.
If your office mates often go out to lunch, establishing lunch as your healthy staple meal might be the most beneficial option for you. In this case, you scope out the restaurants that you frequent, identify the healthiest meal on the menu, and pick that. That way you know you all your healthy options, and you choose them consistently.
This is good for: People who are busy. It takes a little bit of work on the front end, but from there is easy to maintain.
3: Don’t Eat The Things You Know You Shouldn’t: The Common Sense Diet.
Don’t eat the things you know you shouldn’t. This is called the common sense diet because it is common sense. You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that some foods don’t bring you closer to your goals.
This is a very hands off eating plan for people who generally have self control. It means you just don’t eat the things you know you shouldn’t eat. If your goal is weight loss, you know you shouldn’t eat donuts. It won’t bring you closer to your goal. So, choose not to. This requires some willpower, but is the simplest plan. If you have 100 pounds to lose, this plan is pretty simple, does not require counting calories or grams, and can help you progress. Be honest with yourself and make good decisions.
This is good for: people who are looking for simplicity, and people who don’t want to count numbers, but can commit to make themselves better.
4: Focus on Fixing Your One Worst Habit
Focus on fixing your one worst habit. This can be a game changer for people who have a really bad habit. The best example is drinking full sugar sodas or sweet teas. I’m a southern girl and I love my sweet tea, but I can’t have multiple glasses every day. (I could, easily. It’s delicious! But I choose not to).
Perhaps your worst habit is that pint of ice cream every night, or a whole pizza every night for dinner.
This is actually an ok problem to have, because this adds up so quickly, and eliminating or reducing it will add up quickly in your favor. This isn’t for everyone. If you are already eating pretty balanced and don’t have any excessive vices, this might not bring you a lot of results.
This is good for: people who have a bad habit that adds up quickly and are willing to eliminate or reduce it.
Will These Diets Work For You?
All of these approaches stop short of counting every calorie and every gram. They won’t be thorough enough for people who are looking to compete in bodybuilding or physique. Also, if you have so much weight to lose that your health needs to be your first priority, you will benefit from being stricter than any of these approaches. However, these are great places to start.
Need Ideas For Your Staple Meals?
Here are some of my favorites:
Do any of these resonate with you? Have you tried any of these? Let me know if you implement any of these and how they work for you!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.