MOST OF US FALL INTO THE “LOATHE DIETING” BOX
Restrictions, kilojoule counting and insane hunger – we’re just not into it. We know the problem with most diets is that they o?? er short-term fi xes rather than long-term results, and we end up feeling even worse by the end of the diet than we did before embarking on it. Instead, award-winning food writer Bee Wilson says we’re better o?? taking a closer look at our attitude to food, and in her new book, This Is Not A Diet Book: A User’s Guide To Eating Well (HarperCollins, $22.99), she does the hard work for us.
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Wilson focuses on sustainable methods to eat well; methods that have successfully revolutionised her own life. After years of unsuccessful dieting experiences, a happier, more balanced way of eating crept up on her. She slowly began to recondition her responses to food, creating a structure around mealtimes and learning to love healthy food, and experienced weight loss. “I’m someone, in common with millions of other people, who used to be a yo-yo dieter. Apart from the havoc it wreaks on the body – there is evidence that ‘weight cycling’ up and down is damaging to cardiac health as well as actually making long-term weight loss harder – it’s such a miserable way to live,” explains Wilson. “I was looking back on my dieting days from the happier place that I’ve now reached with my eating and thinking about all the things I wished I’d known then.
The book is aimed at helping people who feel stuck in that endless cycle of diets that don’t work to fi nd some kind of escape route. I see it as a user’s guide to eating.” Wilson doesn’t promise a six-pack in seven days or the skin of a supermodel, but by making a few adjustments to your regular diet you can achieve a healthier approach to eating. “Many diet books are irresponsible in promising us instant change – which of course we all desperately want. When you start on a diet, you don’t want slow and steady change, you want to transform like a superhero,” she explains. “But a real change in your relationship with food is more of an act of faith. You have to accept that you may not lose massive amounts straight away, but long-term you end up in a much better place.” Wilson’s methods don’t involve ridiculous weightloss targets, just tweaks that work with your appetite rather than against it. Follow her top tips for side-stepping diet struggles…
1 FIND BALANCE A balanced diet doesn’t mean every meal has to be nutritionally on point, it means taking pleasure in many different foods. Try to think of food as something that gives you energy and strength, and don’t feel bad if you crave a little sweetness now and then. Implement structured mealtimes, and respond to your own internal hunger cues rather than being guided by portion size. And be open to trying lots of different foods. Imagine you’re feeding yourself the way a parent feeds a child: with love and variety, but with limits.
2 LEARN HOW TO EAT A healthy relationship with food starts with three structured meals along with intervals in between. By sticking to regular meals, you will probably find that your tastes change and the nutritional content of meals improves on its own accord. Turn mealtimes into a ritual: aim to eat at the same times each day and you’ll condition your body and brain to expect food at certain times and not at others. Also pay attention to the food on your plate, looking at colours and textures as well as flavours, and make sure you don’t mistake thirst for hunger. Carry a water bottle around with you and take regular sips so there’s no chance of confusing the two.
3 EAT AND DRINK SMART We’re told gluten is bad and green juice is good, but the fact of the matter is we all react to food in different ways. It doesn’t matter what route you choose, just be sure to opt for ingredients that satisfy you rather than the ones you think you should eat. In studies where salads were labelled as “healthy”, people actually found them less satisfying than when they were labelled as “hearty”. Just remember that there’s no one set rule for all and instead eat to suit your own needs and preferences. But as a general rule, try to wean yourself off processed foods, such as sweetened cereals, and your diet will naturally tip in a healthier direction simply by increasing the ratio of healthy food to junk food.
4 GET YOURSELF COOKING Meal preparation is the best way to take control of nutrition, so tempt yourself with new recipes. Don’t limit yourself only to diet dishes, simply learn to cook meals that focus on flavours and varied cooking methods and you’ll find yourself armed with recipes you can return to again and again. Invest in kitchen kit that makes it easy to cook from scratch – you’ll be surprised how handy a set of sharp knives or a salad spinner can be. And when it comes to ingredients, shun the latest superfoods in favour of thrifty veggiebased ingredients that make deliciously healthy meals, such as a spiced pilaf made from sweet root vegetables, fried rice made with quinoa and spring greens or veggie gratin from beetroot and potatoes.
3 Major Menu Mistakes Here’s Where You Might Be Going Wrong…
WANTING TOO MUCH TOO SOON This is partly because most diets start from a mindset of self-loathing. We set unrealistic weight-loss targets and then feel like a failure when we don’t achieve them. Being kinder to ourselves and more accepting of our bodies is a good place to start.
BELIEVING FOOD IS BAD We’d naturally eat better if we could just give ourselves permission to eat. Whatever our size, we all need and deserve food; all this labelling of “good” and “bad” or “clean” and “dirty” only encourages us to binge in secrecy and shame. Ditch the labels!
FORCING YOURSELF TO EAT “DIET FOOD” And then getting down because it’s not as tasty. It becomes easier if you can change your palate so you actually start to relish healthy foods as much as less healthy ones. When you crave broccoli more than chips, half the battle is won.
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