read Healthy Diet: Basic Steps To Get You Started

Healthy Diet: Basic Steps To Get You Started

Healthy Diet: Basic Steps To Get You Started

When we think of dieting, we imagine chewing through endless salads and turning a blind eye to all our favorite foods. But following a healthy diet shouldn’t feel like a punishment. You can take a wiser approach and set realistic goals to make the journey more fulfilling and sustainable. Here’s how. 

1. Motivation is key

The first step would be to ask yourself why you want to change your diet. It might be because you want to fit into a particular pair of jeans, or simply to eat better to avoid health issues. Whatever the inspiration might be, it comes with a feel-good factor, which can help you achieve your diet goals and enjoy making healthier choices. 

2. Set realistic goals and expectations

A lot of us start a health journey but set unrealistic expectations. When the results fail to materialize, we lose enthusiasm and abandon the project. And it’s hard to begin again if you stop once.  So, it’s important to plan it well. For instance, if you want to lose weight, split the plan into phases. Phase I can be just making healthier choices — a fruit over a bag of chips for snacking. Phase 2 can be achieving weight loss — say only 2kg a month

You will get to see how your body responds and accordingly, modify the plan. Similarly, if your goal is to gain muscle, don’t just go to a gym and lift the heaviest weight, and start a crash diet with only salads on the menu. You will end up hating the process and it might just backfire.

3. Make alternative choices

Research has found this to be one of the most effective ways to stay healthy. Start slow but be steady.

Try choosing fruits and vegetables over snacks like chips, biscuits, and packed processed foods

Most processed snacks are high in hidden sugars and bad fats, so go instead for homemade options such as roasted makhanas and chana and boiled sprouts chaat. You can also grab a handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, and peanuts) or roast black chana and seeds like flaxseed, chia seeds. Fruits are always great options — go for a wide variety like apples, oranges, strawberries, grapes, and bananas.  Choose lean cuts of meat, soup, lentils, and salads over fried foods.

Also read: Let’s Talk About Sugar: Is It Bad for You?

4. Know the science behind food 

Jumping into anything without adequate information is not particularly wise, and it holds true for dieting as well. Know the science behind your food and how carbohydrates, proteins, fats, sugar, and fiber work in the maintenance of your body. This will help you plan a healthy diet which align with your desired goals. 

5. Say no to starvation 

Have you ever wondered why you feel more hungry when you condition your mind for being “on a diet”? It’s because intentionally or unintentionally, you put your body on starvation mode, which is its natural response to long-term calorie restriction. There is an urge to binge on sugar-rich foods as the body’s blood sugar levels are low, and it also makes you feel lethargic. Starvation might eventually lead you to indulge in sweets or processed foods, which would be unhealthy as well as counterintuitive.

6. Vet your food cabinets

Cleanse your food storage cabinets and refrigerator of all processed and packaged foods. If you have junk food (biscuits, packaged snacks, and diet snacks, sweetened sodas, namkeens) at home, you are more likely to consume them when hungry. Vetting your supplies is a smart hack to change your dietary practices. 

7. Drink plenty of water

Research suggests that the first sign of hunger is thirst. Whenever you feel hungry, consume a glass of water first and then look for something to eat. You will notice your hunger pangs reduce. This will allow you to make healthier choices in food.

Making the transition to a healthier lifestyle is not easy. It’s a slow and steady process. However, these strategies can help you stick to your healthy diet plans and help achieve desired goals. 

1. Adolph EF, Barker JP, Hoy PA. Multiple factors in thirst. Am J Physiol 1954; 178: 538–62.
2. Dalle Grave R, Calugi S, Molinari E, et al. Weight loss expectations in obese patients and treatment attrition: an observational  multicenter study. Obes Res 2005; 13: 1961–9.
3. Mattes RD. Hunger and thirst: issues in measurement and prediction of eating and drinking. Physiol Behav 2010; 100: 22–32.
4. Tapsell LC. Dietary behaviour changes to improve nutritional quality and health outcomes. Chronic Dis Transl Med 2017; 3: 154–8.