No, no, you didn’t misread that. Since the word “diet” is synonymous with some form of food denial, it may seem counterintuitive that you can actually get healthier and improve weight loss by eating more. Immediate disclaimer, these are some useful tips for how to improve your overall diet and eating habits, if you’re after some formal advice based on your needs, please consult your GP or a nutritionist.
The important bit to note with this kind of approach to eating is that we don’t eat more of what you already eat – which let’s face it, is probably not always 100% healthy – but to expand your culinary repertoire and compensate for the bad stuff you eat with something good. Whenever you consume something that isn’t great, supplement it with something that IS. This way, you’re ensuring that something healthy and beneficial is entering your system, even while you’re indulging. Furthermore, when you eat both of these things, you’ll fill up quicker and probably wind up eating less of the indulgent food, to begin with. Here are just a few ideas on how you can get some healthy habits going, while still enjoying all your guilty pleasures.
Carbs, fat and salt – aka the Good stuff
Warm mashed potatoes. Cheeky bag of crisps. A Gregg’s sausage roll. Nothing hits the spot quite like beige food, but alas, while our cravings are satiated, our bodies definitely aren’t thrilled with this sort of input. But there’s a way to make it up to ourselves! Whatever you feel like eating, eat it. Just put a bowl, right next to your curry or whatever it might be, of chopped carrots or cucumbers or steamed asparagus. Whatever is the least offensive to your palate. A few bites of your carbs, a few bites of your carrot.
Even if all you’re doing is netting off the bad nutrients against the good, maintaining equilibrium is certainly better than making it worse. Plus, even if it’s sad little carrots sticks, you’re still eating more than just your chosen meal, so should fill up faster – maybe even save some of that takeaway for tomorrow, instead of wolfing it all down in one go. The same approach can be applied to any heavy, bulky meal. Whatever you want to eat – prep a bowl full of green goodness to eat as aside.
Socialising can be one of the biggest challenges to maintaining a diet. It’s hard enough denying yourself the foods that bring you some semblance of joy in this dreary world, but harder still when you’re surrounded by size 10s and 8s, wolfing down that bread basket without a care in the world. Thankfully, time (and gravity) will have their last laugh no matter how lucky, or not, we got with our metabolism, but there are a few things you can do to ease the pain.
And again – by having more! You want that bread? Have the damn bread. Smear all the butter in the world onto it. But, review those starters and sides – there’s always some depressingly healthy option on there, which won’t break the bank. Side salad, bowl of olives, steamed veg. Order one as well and for every bite of bread, take a bite of green goo. We promise, the bread and butter will still taste just as glorious, but you’ll be getting a hit of vitamins and fibre along with it.
Drinks are also a tricky business. We often forget that wine and cocktails are full of calories, especially sweet mixers. Straight liquors are much more friendly to your love handles, so you can enjoy any of the usual suspects neat or on the rocks: whisky, rum, vodka, tequila, cognac. A G&T or vodka tonic are actually the diet drink of choice. Of course, if you don’t want to resemble a roaring 20s emotionally unstable artiste or if drinking those things straight is a bit brutal on your taste buds, never fear.
Apply the same principle – just with water. For every cocktail or glass of wine, request a glass of water. And make sure to drink it! Enjoy a glass of pinot, then wash it down with some still water. Yes, you’ll break the seal earlier, so to speak, but you’ll be keeping yourself hydrated! And hopefully, you won’t have as much time or bladder space to consume as many pints as you usually would, and by interspersing your drinks with water will likely reduce the hangover you try to hide at work the next day!
So, it’s really quite easy. You want a donut? Eat a portion of blueberries on the side. You want a cheeseburger? Scoff down on some spinach and avocado as well. Want to drown your sorrows in a bottle of merlot? Work your way through a bottle of water as well. Overall, you’ll wind up eating less of the crappy stuff because there just won’t be enough room in your tummy nor time in the day. And you haven’t even had to give anything up. But you know, if you feel like cutting down on some indulgences, more power to ya!
Whether it’s going cold turkey on white bread, fasting or reducing your overall intake of unhealthy foods, dieting is insanely difficult. Bad influences all around you or even one bad day at work can make you give up and slip back into your old habits. But with this approach, you’re not actually denying yourself anything, you’re adding – just add the good stuff! Even if you hate fruit and veg, surely eating some broccoli is worth the price to keep that pizza!