When I think about diets, I think of deprivation. Kick fried foods to the curb, don’t buy a delicious treat from the bakery, and nix the cheese sauce for broccoli. Pass up the bread basket or chips at your favorite restaurant, and don’t you dare order a milkshake.
My new favorite perspective is balancing. I have often heard of this being called the 80/20 diet. You eat healthy foods 80% of the time, and you can balance some treats into the other 20%.
Just reading that list of no-no’s makes me uneasy, and you really don’t have to go off the deep end. Small changes can yield big results. Add in some exercise and you’re good to go.
Here are five small steps to balance your diet:
Lighten Up Your Coffee
The days when you drank coffee at home are long gone, and ordering a large latte with sugary syrup can really make the calories add up. Try drinking a cup of black coffee or coffee with just cream or sugar, but not both. Better yet switch to green tea. According to a study by the American Physiological Society, green tea drinkers have lower BMIs and less body fat.
Drink Lemon Water
You should be drinking water throughout the day, and each time you fill your glass, squeeze some lemon in. Citrus acts as a diuretic, and going to the bathroom more often, means you’re not as bloated. As an added bonus, you may experience a brief spike in your metabolic rate.
When you have a busy day, it’s tempting to just gulp down your food as quickly as possible, but your brain needs time to process that full feeling, and you end up overeating. Chew each bite 25 times, and note how your food tastes. Another good trick is to put your fork down between bites.
Keep Gym Clothes in the Car
How many times have you wanted to hit the gym after work, but forgot your gym clothes? So instead of getting in that good workout, you go home and beach on the couch eating chips.
Stash sneakers and leggings in the trunk before work, so you’re all set at the end of the work day.
Grocery Shop after a Meal
When I go down the store aisles, I feel like I can inhale 1000 calories just perusing the bakery aisle. I end up buying a treat more times than I care to count. Eat your meal or snack first and then shop. One other tip is to make an exact list and stick to it. Resist the urge to buy the 2-for-1 cookies or chips, and pass up the free samples.
Don’t try to make big changes all at once. Start out small and when you’re ready, add healthier foods to your diet.