I can hear you murmuring through the Internet already, even though you’ve read only the title of this piece. “The best laid plans…” you’re murmuring to yourself. Or perhaps you’re thinking, “There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ diet plan!” But some of you are saying to yourself, “Really? There’s something that can work for most everyone?”
I understand that usually the very idea of fully committing to a diet plan is enough to stop readers in their tracks, especially since we know that over the long haul few people manage to stick to prescribed nutrition regimens. But this inability to persevere and find success can be due to many factors—including flawed diet plans and a lack of motivation. But at this beginning of a new year—when many people have resolved to be more healthy—perhaps you’re ready to change your perspective and begin thinking about establishing a new relationship with food rather than focusing on a diet that requires you to focus on minute details that niggle at your mind all the live-long day. An approach in this vein will lead you to a “diet” that supports the results you desire while embracing proper motivation.
Designing a Flawless Diet Plan
Diet plans that are flawless are those that encourage people to consume foods in moderation with a balanced diet. That said, I want at this point to cease using the word “diet” and instead use the word “fuel” to describe the foods and drinks we consume. This is because when we eat and drink we are, in essence, fueling our bodies with the energy, fats, sugars, and other nutrients they need that enable us to think more clearly and move more easily.
A healthy fuel plan should, above all, provide your body with sufficient nutrition. Although vegetarian and vegan lifestyles that include only fruits, juices, and raw green veggie fuels may sound great initially, the nutrients provided by a fuel plan characterized in this way are generally ineffective in providing balanced meals. Rather, a balanced fuel plan gives your body a plethora of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients—including carbohydrates, fats, fiber and proteins in necessary amounts.
A balanced fuel plan should also include variety. I like to say that if a lack of nutrition doesn’t kill you, then a lifetime of boredom of eating the same foods surely will. By that I mean that your fuel plan must include many different kinds of foods. Who among us can withstand for an extended period of time the torture of your taste buds with repetitive food consumption that is boring and bland? Additionally, afford yourself opportunities to indulge in fuel that, while perhaps not of the best quality, does “feed” your body emotionally. Note that I’m not advocating “pigging out” on foods that are bad for you; rather, I’m talking about practicing indulging in moderation instead of overindulging regularly.
Next, your fuel plan should be practical. Sometimes you can create a fuel plan that looks great on paper, but in reality it is difficult in practical application. This is especially true if you have resigned yourself to eating the same particular items over and over again or if you focus only on items that take far too long to prepare.
Similarly, your fuel plan should not require you to go long periods without eating or skip meals. A hallmark of a fuel plan that is destined to fail is one that denies your body necessary and vital nutrition for an extended period of time. Ideally, most women should consume 1200 to 1500 calories per day, while most men should consume 1500 to 1800 calories in the same time period. To deny yourself those calories—which are, essentially, fuel—can be detrimental to your health.
Additionally, a fuel plan should establish practical meal times with which you can stick. Studies show that eating at or near the same time every day essentially “trains” your body to expect you to provide it with fuel at those times. This is a good thing in that it can help you control food cravings and hunger by addressing them regularly.
Perhaps most importantly, any fuel plan you devise should reflect your regular eating habits. Take note, however, that this doesn’t mean you should load up on junk food or eat fast food exclusively if that’s been your lifestyle/habit up to this point. Instead, it means that you should take advantage of the opportunity to substitute natural alternatives for the unhealthy foods you typically eat. That is, opt for fresh vegetables (ideally, organic) if you typically eat the canned variety. Similarly, replace beef with fish or chicken a few days a week if your typical fuel plan includes a lot of red meat. Making these minor changes will help you support your heart as well as reduce your waist line.
Should you feel that you absolutely must follow a “diet” or fuel plan created by someone else, then be sure to thoroughly investigate said plan to determine if it is safe and healthy. Research it yourself – whether at the library, on the Internet, or by asking friends—to determine if it has a high success rate. More importantly, examine it carefully to ensure that you can stick with it—especially if it has strict rules regarding what you can and cannot consume. Fuel plans that have high success rates ensure that you concentrate both on the changes you’re making in your lifestyle and that you are pepped up right from the start. They do not, however, require you to focus only on your success regarding weight loss; rather, they encourage you to embrace the changes you’re making in your lifestyle that are just as important regarding your long-term health.
Devising a healthy fuel plan will help to ward off ill health and boredom—factors that could keep you from sticking to a new “diet” regimen. That is, embracing such a plan will lead to bountiful rewards both physical and psychological. That, of course, is assuming that you remember to treat yourself with compassion. Human beings slip and slide in their pursuits, so if you find yourself moving away from your fuel plan you should release the negative feelings and guilt associated with your experiences so you can reset your focus and intention while adjusting your fuel plan to meet you where you currently are.
Until next time, embrace your inner wisdom.