As we all know, clean eating is a major component of a healthy lifestyle, and that it goes hand in hand with a consistent workout plan. The edicts of the billion-dollar diet industry—what we should eat and what we should avoid—can be hard to follow, however. It seems that the recommendations from health magazines and similar sources change with the wind, which can make sticking to a diet even more challenging and confusing. So, when in doubt, we tend to rely on what we consider “conventional wisdom.” Avoid fat, cut out desserts, don’t snack; these are some of the traditional diet rules that seem to have been around the longest. So while health magazines are debating whether eggs or apples or cashews are the new superfood or should be avoided at all costs, we tend to cling the gospel of the classic restrictive diet and hope for the best.
However, while traditional diet advice has some truth to it, there’s fine print that goes along with it, which we tend not to realize. There are qualifiers that pair with these classic, common-knowledge diet rules that make them a little more realistic and a lot more effective. So here are our favorite pearls of wisdom to tack onto popular diet advice.
The rule: Never indulge; you should cut out desserts and other unhealthy foods immediately.
The fine print: Although a healthy lifestyle calls for a minimal amount of processed, excessively sugary foods, cutting them out cold turkey is a method that almost never works with 100% success. If you’re trying to cut out sugar, try replacing the cookies or cake with something healthier that still gives you your sweet fix—like homemade protein bites, an all-natural granola bar or an especially juicy peach.
Remember also that deprivation is a harsh learning method that’s rarely effective. Allowing yourself a reasonable amount of your favorite indulgence now and then might be a good idea, as it may help you avoid binging after a long period of deprivation. Eating an entire tub of ice cream in one sitting causes more damage than a few spoonfuls once in a while.
The rule: Avoid carbs at all costs.
The fine print: The qualifier here is: What kind of carbs are we talking about? If they’re simple carbs, like white bread, white flour or rice, for example, then yes, that’s correct. It’s better to limit your consumption of simple carbs like these because they’ll burn up quickly, spike your blood sugar, and make you feel hungry again too soon. In short, they don’t give your body much benefit. If they’re complex carbs, however, like quinoa, almonds or bananas—it’s a different story! Foods like those all have a place in a balanced, healthy diet, because they’re carbs of a higher quality. They’re full of nutrients and will keep you full and fueled longer.
The rule: Fat is the enemy.
The fine print: Again, it’s important to differentiate between high and low quality. Low-quality fats should be avoided, such as those found in cookies, french fries and cake. Their nutritional value is very low, and they won’t provide much fuel for your body. Good fats, however, should be welcomed with open arms! Avocados, almond butter and walnuts, for example, contain the high-quality fats that our bodies need.
The rule: No snacking in between meals!
The fine print: It’s similar to the “never indulge” rule; deprivation often only makes us want something more. If you don’t allow yourself to snack when you feel hungry, you’re likely to overeat at your next meal.
The key here is to set yourself up for success with your snacking; make sure you have reasonable portions of high-quality snacks available in your pantry and your desk. Cucumbers and hummus, some almonds and cheese, or apples and a bit of nut butter are all great snacks to have on hand; they’ll give your body the fuel it’s asking for when you get hungry throughout the day without derailing your clean-eating plans. Plus, by the time your next full meal rolls around, your appetite will be at the right level so you’re at lesser risk for overindulgence.
A solid diet, though important, is only part of the equation that adds up to a healthy lifestyle. The other piece of the puzzle? Exercise, of course! When it comes to navigating the fitness world, Bootique in San Diego is here to help. We offer everything from personal training and outdoor boot camp sessions to upbeat cardio Dance Fitness classes, and our experienced trainers can help with questions related to any facet of a healthy lifestyle! Interested in getting on track with Bootique? Contact us to arrange your trial class today!