Healthy Eating: Stick to the Basics


Many people fall into the traps of profit diets and diet foods to lose weight, however, sticking to the basics of nutrition is the most effective way to lose.

Cole Scanlon, Contributor

“No, I can’t eat that. I’m on a diet.” Sound familiar? Diets aren’t just adopted by many women and fitness-minded men in the pre-summer months because they suddenly want to be and look healthier. “Consumerist America” often fuels people’s mindset, actions, and spending patterns because Americans are conditioned to think bigger and more is often interpreted as better.

The diet industry is a billion-dollar industry filled with get-fit-quick diet schemes and special foods – often claimed to be found deep in the amazon – that drastically reduce one’s body fat. While the claims and results are ridiculously exaggerated, many discerning people lack reason when it comes to eating and, as a result, fall into the traps of profit diets and diet foods. Some of these diets include Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig.

Sticking to the basics of nutrition is the most important, yet most overlooked, aspect of healthy eating. After all, the complicated components like meal timing and frequency make up a very, very small portion of the big picture, which is living a satisfying and sustainable healthy lifestyle. The ultimate goal is not to survive a brutal diet and then regress to prior eating patterns. Habits should be adopted over time, allowing for your body and mind to adjust. Here are some of the simple and reasonable principles that are not only a great place to start, but effective when maintained:

  1. Many approaches work, but everyone is different so don’t feel hesitant to try out different approaches to find out which one works best for you. Some of the popular “eating routines” include paleo (consists mainly of fish, grass-fed meats, eggs, vegetables, and nuts), low-carb (program that restricts the carbohydrate consumption) and intermittent fasting (pattern of eating that alternates between period of fasting and non-fasting). People can claim only one “routine” is the works best, but the truth is eating is often a subjective thing, therefore, finding one that best works for you will help you stay consistent.

  2. Drink lots of water. Our bodies require water to function properly and, often, thirst can be confused with hunger.

  3. Calories in vs. calories out. If you eat more calories than you burn – including those you burn simply being alive – you will gain weight and, if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. However, there will be some degree of error between your anticipated and actual calories burned/consumed. Calorie counting tools such as the app “myfitnesspal” decrease the margin of error.

  1. Protein makes you feel fuller, longer. Like carbs and fat, protein plays an important role in the body. Protein builds and maintains muscle tissue. One characteristic is its “feel-full” qualities relative to the amount of calories it produces. Some good sources of protein are meat, chicken, eggs, fish, and protein powder.

  1. Fat is important. One misconception is that fat from food translates into body fat. This is not true! Fat is actually a slow burning energy source that is very important to the body since it increases the absorption of nutrients.

While you strive to be healthier, to live healthier, keep balance in mind. Successful lifestyle switches should become habits rather than being sudden and short-lived. Adopt and celebrate small “wins”: running a faster mile time, ordering fish at a restaurant instead of a burger, and having one spoonful of pie instead of two. You can even use incentives such as treating yourself to a pizza slice or a cookie maintain your healthy eating habits for an entire week. The habits will add up and the subsequent lifestyle shift will bring you closer being, and hopefully feeling, vitalized and, well, … healthy.