Your diet sucks.
How do I know?
Well you’re reading this for starters.
But mainly because you’re always wondering what the hell to eat, what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’, why you keep ending up eating the same things over and over again, and why you can’t seem to lose fat from your supposedly ‘healthy diet’.
Fear not, the ‘Fix Your Crappy Diet’ Manual is here:
The handbook - that’s really just a blog post - that’ll tell you where you’re going wrong and how to fix it.
Problem #1 – You Don’t Know What To Eat
Boy do all those Instagram #foodporn photos look great; such a plethora of healthy, well-filtered, brightly-coloured meals with a bazillion likes spamming your timeline.
Why, when you take photos of your meals then, do they look something taken out of your Grandma’s ‘100 Recipes With Spam’ cookbook? Why can you never think of what to have? Why do you always resort to grabbing the chicken nuggets and chips and just sticking them in the oven?
Well you just don’t have a clue what to eat; and here’s how we’re going to fix it:
Hey, I know your mum always said if it’s too good to be true it probably is, but in this instance, it really is. In order, simply select one item from each list, cook it and stick it on your plate.
It really is that simple.
Stop stressing over cooking techniques, what flavours go with what, when to have certain meals and why everyone else’s dinner looks like it deserves a Michelin star. It really is as straightforward as selecting one protein source, vegetable, carbohydrate source, fat, and flavour at every opportunity. It works every time.
Problem #2 – You Hate Kale
The potato diet sounded like a great idea. So did smothering everything you ate in coconut oil. Oh and stirring clay into a glass of water and drinking it to clear your gut of toxins was a right blast wasn’t it.
The only problem was you ended up hating life. Which is why that particular diet lasted all of about five minutes.
When trying to reshape your diet it’s important you take into consideration things like your taste preferences, whether you end up keeling over in anaphylactic shock because your body doesn’t take too kindly to ginger wasabi peanuts, and whether you can see yourself eating these foods for years to come.
STOP EATING SHIT YOU DON’T LIKE.
Just because The Mail Online said it was some crazy superfood all the celebrities were eating, or an Instagram model posted a picture of all that lovely chicken liver she was consuming, doesn’t mean you have to as well.
Seriously, if the taste of kale makes you want to throw up your insides, don’t eat it. Forcing down foods because you feel the need to, in order to try and become ‘healthy’, is actually doing nothing but achieving the complete opposite.
Create a plan that focuses on foods you DO like. This will ensure you’ll a) enjoy what you’re eating and b) stick to something longer than five minutes.
Problem #3 – Your Tummy Be Rumbling All The Time
You’re already sniffing out the coffee and biscuits at 11am, you’re always on the hunt for the crisps at 4pm to, you know, ‘keep you going’, and come 10pm you deserve a little pre-bed snack right? You’re just always damn hungry.
Well here’s why: a bowl of cereal, piece of toast and cup of tea for breakfast; a sandwich, packet of crisps and fizzy drink from Pret at lunch; and some chicken nuggets, oven chips and token lettuce leaves for dinner just isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid.
This archetypal way of eating (which, I'm sorry, but your 12-year-old cousin would be proud of) isn’t doing you any favours. While hunger is an inevitable part of the fat loss process, minimising those relentless hunger pangs are key to avoiding persistent overeating.
The main problem is that the modern-day diet is filled with hyper-palatable foods. Foods, which as well as being easily accessible in today’s society, are essentially designed to drive you to want more. Overconsumption of these freakin’ awesome foods will override satiety and fullness signals in the brain, meaning you still end up feeling hungry five minutes after you’ve put down your knife and fork.
First things first, you’re going to try and remove as many of those hyper-palatable foods from your diet as possible and replace them with as many highly-satiating items as you can.
You’re going to have to minimise the amount of cereals, crisps, pizzas, chocolates, chips, cakes, and chicken nuggets you’re having. That’s not to say you can never have these items; just know the more regularly you consume them, the more likely you are to overindulge later on.
The highly-satiating items we’re going to be replacing them with are going to be high in protein, high in fibre, high in volume and have a low calorie density.
Things like eggs, oats, Greek yoghurt, vegetables, legumes, white potatoes, whey protein, meats and fish for example.
Always centering your meals around these items will ensure you’ll end up feeling fuller after a meal and not end up devouring a whole pack of Oreo Thins post dinner.
Problem #4 – Planning and Preparing Isn’t In Your Dictionary
I know the feeling. You come home from a long stressful day at work, the dog’s only gone and crapped on the floor again and the last thing you want to do is cook another healthy meal with all those complex ingredients and weird looking kitchen utensils. Even if it will get you ‘lean in fifteen’.
That pizza you can just stick in the oven along with a nice refreshing alcoholic beverage seems like a much simpler idea. It’s just a shame you didn’t plan and prepare ahead so this all-too-familiar circumstance doesn’t keep happening.
You see, the trick lies somewhere in between the two extremities of the ‘flexible’ and ‘meal plan’ spectrum. Through having pre-prepared meals, that you want to eat, all set to go, you won’t be inclined to fall into the ‘screw it I can’t be bothered tonight’ trap.
Meal plans, on the whole, suck. Too much rigidity and restriction, as well as the fact that you won’t stick to it any longer than two weeks, means you’re more than likely to – technical term - ‘sack it off’.
Too much flexibility however, can also be damaging. Eating ‘whatever you want’ seldom works. No-one got six-pack ready from eating solely foods that seemed to ‘fit their macros’; there needs to be a balance.
So the answer is this: Plan and pre-prepare your meals for the week in advance, with 80% of your foods coming from nutrient rich foods and 20% coming from foods you really want to eat.
Prioritise the high protein, high fibre, high volume and lower calorie dense foods we discussed earlier, but allow yourself the freedom of fitting in the occasional food item you really must have.
Having something to adhere to, as well as minimising the amount of ‘flexibility’ you’re allowed, will ensure you’ll stick to your diet more often than not – yes, even when the dog’s crapped on the floor.
Problem #5 – Complex Is In Your Dictionary
Hey, carb cycling, ketogenic, intermittent fasting, and other weird and wonderful dieting strategies have a time and a place.
But for you? You don’t need to be anywhere near them.
Complexity sells dreams. Unfortunately those dreams ultimately end up with failure. Trying something outlandish or different provides you with a sense of false control – ‘YES, THIS IS GOING TO BE THE DIET THAT'S GOING TO WORK!’ you tell yourself. (It’s not).
All it does, is add confusion, constant worry, needless emphasis on the irrelevant minutiae of your diet, and a strong desire to give it all up as quickly as possible.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Like really simple.
Work out your required calorie target that will put you in a gradual deficit, prioritise protein and vegetables, don’t get bogged down with the semantics of dieting and follow that closely for seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
You’ll soon find focusing on the ‘big rocks’ of fat loss will lead you down the path to success.
Problem #6 – Your Environment Sucks
The majority of the eating decisions you make have more to do with predetermined habits, physical cues and what’s going on around you. So while you may think you’re making your own choices, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not; which means you’re often setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even started.
Things like the home, the workplace, restaurants, and supermarkets are all set up to lead us down the path of the inevitable diet collapse.
And yeah, it’s the reason you can’t stop your hand creeping into the biscuit tin or you stopping off at the fish and chip shop on the way home from work.
First things first: DON’T BUY IT.
Read that again. And do it.
If it’s not in the house you can’t easily head to the cupboard or fridge and sneak in another biscuit or glass. The more you keep these food items in the house the more likely you are to overeat on them.
If they ain’t there, you ain’t eating them.
Secondly: put all those temptations away in harder places to access. The more we have to search for something, or effort we have to put in to get something to eat, the less we consume. Equally, the less effortful something is to eat, the easier it is to forget how much you actually consume.
Lastly: distractions when we eat are bad news. The TV, radio and even reading can all cause us to eat more. Try dishing out a portion of your chosen snack before you sit down, rather than continuously eating from the tub or packet.
Problem #7 – You’re Scared Of Your Diet
You’re scared. Not in the ‘being scared of the monsters in Monsters Inc’ type of scared (just me? OK then), but scared of screwing up. You’re on constant tenterhooks, wondering whether something ‘bad’ is going to pass your lips and how severely you’re going to end up on another one of those epic bingefests.
This is wrong.
Constantly worrying over whether you’re going to screw up is setting you up for failure. You need to be at ease with what you’re eating and not stressing over whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you.
From a moral standpoint, food is inherently neutral. Seriously, no one got fat from eating one cookie every once in a while. Stop thinking foods you actually enjoy having are ‘bad’ and if you consume them you’re automatically a ‘bad’ person.
You’re not. Unless you steal. That’s bad.
Be comfortable knowing that the decisions you make are ones you’ve thought through intently. I like my clients to always take a moment to ask themselves:
‘If I have this, which I’m completely allowed to, will I end up closer to my goal or further away from it?’
Taking that extra second to just revaluate a particular food choice, and take it for what it is, means you won’t end up being fearful of stepping off track and ‘ruining’ all the progress you’ve made.
It’s incredibly easy to fall into the modern-day diet trap.
Luckily for you there are ways to climb out of it.
It’s important you take some time untangling the mess you’ve got yourself into, making sense of where you’re going wrong and employing some of the strategies explained above to make small and manageable changes to your diet.
It will take time, but it is possible.
THIS ARTICLE WAS TOO LONG AND I DIDN'T READ IT - CAN YOU SUMMARISE IT PLEASE
- Stop worrying about what to eat and whether it looks nice. Simply choose one protein source, vegetable, carbohydrate source, fat, and flavour at every opportunity.
- Stop eating stuff you don’t like. Create a plan that focuses on foods you DO like. This will ensure you’ll a) enjoy what you’re eating and b) stick to something longer than two weeks.
- Stop eating foods that leave you hungry the whole time. Try and remove as many of those hyper-palatable foods from your diet as possible and replace them with as many highly-satiating items as you can.
- Plan and prepare out your meals for the week in advance, whilst still fitting in foods you enjoy. Having something to adhere to, as well as minimising the amount of ‘flexibility’ you’re allowed, will ensure you’ll stick to your diet more often than not.
- Stop making things too complex. Focus on the ‘big rocks’ of fat loss.
- Change your environment. Don’t buy foods to keep in your home, and if you do leave them in places that are harder to access.
- Constantly worrying whether you’re going to screw up is setting you up for failure. Be comfortable knowing that the decisions you make are one’s you’ve thought through intently.