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'Stop trying to lose weight.' The only 5 tips you need for being healthy in 2020.

You had that stent of doing the cleanse, and that helped you lose weight.

But then you gained it back.

You did the healthy rite of passage by planning your new year’s resolution to make a “new year, new you”. And just as you were supposed to, you gave up on that resolution at the start of February.

It was kind of easy because all of your co-workers were talking about how quickly they failed, and at least you lasted longer than them.

So if resolutions don’t work, and diets don’t last then what exactly am I supposed to do to be healthy?

We’re all begging for those ‘5 tips to enjoy your food and enjoy your health’ – but do you really want to know?

Yes!

FIRST, a little more realistic sarcasm.

You restrict.

You’re so good.

You don’t eat unhealthy foods… until you do.

And then… you do.

You restrict until your physiological need to eat overpowers your mental capacity to starve yourself. And that’s when you binge.

You clean out the cabinets, you order the Uber Eats, or you head to your local grocer and you get whatever you want!

Then you think, “why can’t I eat whatever I want and be thin?! Aimee does!”

You believe you’ve been cursed by the body gods, and you’re trapped in this physical misrepresentation of who you really are.

I mean, for real.

You love bread, just like Oprah and you don’t even eat carbs.

I mean, you only eat good carbs — the beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables.

You don’t even eat after 6pm.

You tried being vegan after watching that documentary and it worked! I mean, it worked for a week, until you got tired of eating broccoli and spaghetti with marinara sauce.

But after a week you got tired of it because you ran out of other good ideas of foods to eat that don’t have meat. And you were SO good, I mean, you didn’t even use that old bottle of Parmesan cheese you have sitting in your fridge during that week.

You were SO good!

But it didn’t stick. So what are you supposed to do?

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You always hear that being overweight is supposed to increase your risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer and any other type of illness you could ever dream up.

But if you’re not supposed to diet, what are you supposed to do?!

First —

Recognise that the research actually says that if you do healthy things, you’re healthy.

More than your weight, your behaviours influence your health.

Your insulin sensitivity (measure for diabetes), your cholesterol and triglyceride levels (measures for hypertension and heart disease), and the list goes on. They all improve when you do healthy things.

When you eat fruits and vegetables, you’re healthier.

When you exercise your health improves, and I don’t just mean crossfit, running marathons, or cycling.

I mean, if you kayak, if you garden, if you do tai chi, karate, Zumba, spinning classes, if you walk, if you play volleyball, or tennis, your health improves.

But before I get the response, “Yeah, but…”.

No.

It improves your health.

Second —

Stop.

Stop dieting.

Stop trying to lose weight.

Stop shopping in the aisle of brown and green organic packaged foods thinking: “I wish I could be healthy but I don’t have the money.”

Stop paying attention to your social media account of people doing things you wish you could but ‘you don’t have the body to’.

When I say this, some people think I should lose my dietitian credibility card. They think I’m promoting obesity.

But hold your horses.

You have to remember that behind all of that weight you stigmatise, is a person.

A real person.

The fat-shaming and guilt-tripping does nothing.

So when we realise that we are all people and we are struggling with different issues, you may behave a little different.

LISTEN: Celebrity Diets and other truly terrible ideas. Post continues below.

Besides, when you focus on weight you are missing the point. Healthy people do healthy things. Not all healthy people are the same size. If you eat mainly a plant-based diet and you’re not thin, you are not failing.

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If you exercise and you don’t have a six-pack, you are not failing.

Being healthy does not promise you a certain size.

When you trade your healthy behaviours for the quest of an ever-illusive ideal body weight, you start to forget the purpose of being healthy. That purpose is health.

Now that we got that out of the way, if you’re trying to be healthy then start being healthy.

Stop chasing miracle cures.

Stop with the unsustainable behaviours and start with realising you want to be healthy for the long run, not to be a number for the short run.

This may require you to reevaluate how you define health. Health is a sum of our behaviours, not a number on a scale.

Third —

Start with more plants. Specifically, more vegetables, more fruit, more legumes, nuts, and seeds.

And I don’t mean smoothies and juices.

I mean food. Like, eating.

Part of this is to start where you are currently and make little changes that you enjoy and can sustain. Add tomatoes and onions to your morning eggs. Make a sandwich a wrap or a wrap a salad.

A good salad, not just lettuce and dressing.

Put cheese, nuts, seeds, beans, fruit, and so on in your salads. Try eating different nuts for snacks. These are simple things that you can experiment with until you determine if you like it.

Be curious with trying new foods. Find healthy foods that you enjoy. I guarantee you have not tried every single fruit/vegetable out there, prepared in every possible way.

Don’t force yourself to eat food you don’t like. Instead, try to find healthy food you enjoy.

It doesn’t matter how good kale is for you if you think it takes like bug spray. There are plenty of other fruits and vegetables you can try that you will think taste better than kale.

Truth nugget for you, if you don’t like the way something tastes, you won’t eat it. On the flip-side, if you like it, you’ll eat it. There are enough healthy options out there that you will find something you like.

Fourth —

Don’t be so scared of being hungry.

It is normal to be hungry. You don’t have to search the internet for appetite suppressant supplements or chug water all day to prevent the hunger monster rearing its ugly, overpowering, all-consuming bobble head. Instead, start finding ways to be confident in your food choices.

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Recognise when you are starting to get hungry and not just waiting until you are starving.

Waiting to make food decisions until you’re starving is setting yourself up for failure every time.

Fifth —

Save your money.

Stay away from buzzwords like “clean”, “keto”, “paleo”, and when you’re starting out trying to be healthy, I’d even say save your money and don’t buy organic until you know you like the food and really believe that the organic label is that important to you.

Keto-water is just water, but it’s expensive water.

Learn to cook new foods. When you see how much butter, salt, or sugar is going into dishes it makes you take a step back and think, “does it need all of that?” Then the next time you make that dish you can try it with a little less, or with other spices.

When you cook, you regain the power over your food because you are making it.

Finally, remember that you have built your life and your behaviours over the past twenty, forty, or sixty years. So be kind with yourself when making these changes, and recognise that you’re learning, growing and evolving.

So 5 tips to enjoy your food and enjoy your health are as follows:

1. Understand your definition of health.

2. Stop dieting, chasing miracles cures, 10 day fixes, detoxes and cleanse, instead play the long game.

3. Find simple ways to add more plants to your diet

4. Understand that it’s normal to be hungry and develop your confidence around hunger by thinking about what you’re going to eat before you get to the “hangry” stage.

5. Save your money by recognising fads for fads. Realise that paying for the trendy health food of the year will cost you more, and that thought perpetuates the thought that being healthy is expensive.

Bon Appetite!

Zach Cordell is a registered dietitian nutritionist with experience in one-on-one nutrition counselling, presenting for employee wellness efforts, as a podcast host, and teaching at University.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. For more from Zach, you can visit his website, or follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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