YOUR PERFECT DIET IN 4 SIMPLE STEPS
In this post, I’m going to show you how to find the perfect diet for you – in 4 simple steps.
IS THERE A PERFECT DIET FOR YOU?
For the past 8-10 years I have really been pursuing health through my diet, through fitness and through my lifestyle. Of course my idea of “what is healthy” has changed many times during this period.
If I just take a look at my diet, I have tried many different diet plans that I once believed were “the healthiest”; and would try each one for a while until I decided it wasn’t as healthy as I’d once thought, so I would move onto something else.
For years I have been trying to discover what “the healthiest diet” is and now, for the first time, I feel like I am starting to understand what it is.
♥ A LITTLE BIT OF MY STORY
Along my journey to find health, I have gone from being terrified of carbohydrates to “carbo-loading” to being terrified of them again – so many times. I have had a similar relationship with protein rich foods. I have at times eaten a “high protein diet” and then at other times I have followed a “low protein diet”. I have been afraid of animal protein and turned vegan (a few times) and then eaten lots of animal protein while following the Paleo diet.
My relationship with fats has also been an interesting one; most of my life I was afraid of fats (I think that most people are afraid of fats) and then I started following a high fat diet where I consumed a large amount of healthy fats by eating oils, avocados, nuts and seeds. I then changed my mind about a “high fat diet” and started to count the calories I was consuming instead (to get a basic idea of how much I should be eating in a day). I still think that healthy fats are important BUT I recognise that protein is also important and so are carbohydrates – what I have come to realize is that they are all equally important. It is ALL ABOUT MODERATION and about finding a healthy balance. It has taken me 7 years of trial and error to figure this out.
Now, for the first time in my life I am pursuing a healthy and well balanced diet. The truth is that there will always be books about new diets coming out and these diets will promise great results for weight loss, improved energy and better health. When following one of these diets, you may find quick results with weight loss because what often happens is that when you cut a certain food group from your diet, your body uses up stored fuel (body fat) to get the lacking nutrients it needs but is not getting in your diet. You may also have an increase in energy because you are getting so much of one type of nutrient. But I do not believe that these results are sustainable. I think that over time the body usually starts to store fat again and energy levels can go from bad to worse because of the nutrients that are missing. You may also achieve great results when trying a new diet because along with the new eating plan, you are also cutting “junk food” (refined and processed foods) from your diet, which will naturally bring about weight loss and an increase in energy.
Here is what I am choosing to do: I am choosing to follow a diet that is well balanced (a good balance of carbs, protein and fats) and I am choosing to not be afraid of any food or any food group. I have realised that being afraid of a certain food or food group does more harm to the body and the mind than it does good.
I would rather eat something unhealthy and not be afraid of it (and what I think it will do to my body) than be afraid of it. Of course I am not perfect and so I am working on this every day. I find it difficult to consume “junk food” such as fast food, processed food and refined food. I don’t want to eat these foods because I know that they are bad for me, but I don’t want to be afraid of them anymore.
Fear is never good. Mentally, I want to be in a place where if I really wanted a bite of something unhealthy, I could eat it without fear and without guilt.
WE HAVE DIFFERENT “DIETS”
I have come to the conclusion that a healthy diet will look different to everyone because we all have different needs and different likes.
I have chosen to enjoy my food and not to eat things that I don’t like (no matter how healthy they supposedly are).
I don’t think it’s healthy or fun to “count every calorie” that you eat, but I do think it can be helpful to get a rough estimation of how much food you should be consuming in a day (especially for people wanting to lose weight or gain weight). I do not think that it is a good idea to count every calorie though, once you have a basic idea of how many calories your body needs you should just roughly estimate the calories that you consume. It is all about finding a healthy balance.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY DIET?
So what is a healthy diet? That is a good question and one that you should ask yourself.
For you it may be following a gluten-free diet if you find that you feel better when you don’t eat any gluten. I know that I feel terrible when I eat dairy, wheat or refined sugar and so I will continue to keep these out of my diet.
There are other things that I generally like to avoid because I don’t feel great after I have eaten them (like garlic and onions to name a few; but I will eat these every now and again) and then there are certain foods that I eat a lot of because I feel fantastic when I eat them (baby spinach, mangoes, blueberries, avocado).
HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT FOR YOU
1. Pay attention to how you feel after you have eaten.
What foods leave you feeling great with sustained energy? What foods leave you feeling bad with no energy, sinus, headaches, stomach issues, sore throat or any other negative symptoms? It is helpful to write down what you find so that you can remember.
2. Start eating the foods that leave you feeling good and avoid the foods that leave you feeling bad.
Keep in mind that how you prepare any food has a lot to do with its impact on your body and how you will feel.
3. Remember that carbohydrates, protein and fats are all equally important and that there healthy and unhealthy versions of each.
Avoid any food that is processed, refined, full of preservatives/ additives or artificial foods (colorants, flavouring and non-nutritive sweeteners). Choose whole, fresh and unprocessed foods. Eat unprocessed & unrefined flours and sugars, good quality animal protein, lots of fresh produce (leafy greens, vegetables and fruit) and cold-pressed oils. Find a balance between raw and cooked foods that works for you.
4. Love what you eat and fall in love with how great your body and mind feel when you eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Do not partner with guilt and shame when you eat unhealthy food, instead be free to make healthy choices and still love yourself when you make bad diet choices.
Eat foods that make you feel good, avoid foods that don’t make you feel good – and make an effort to incorporate healthy fats, good carbs and healthy protein into your diet. Remember to treat yourself with foods that you love too!
Liezl Jayne xo
Photographs by Ross Charnock for liezljayne.com – styled by Liezl Jayne