Does one diet work for everyone? Is there one best way of eating? Is one diet better than all the others? The answer to all these questions is no. There are clear healthy eating habits everyone should follow. This includes avoiding processed foods, eating real/whole foods, avoiding sugar, and avoiding processed oils. The exact composition of a healthy diet can vary depending on one’s age, metabolism, and genetics. Most children are highly sensitive to insulin. This means they can eat carbs all day long and still remain thin. Furthermore, most children have a good metabolism. Unfortunately, as we get older things change. Most people, as they age, become less sensitive to insulin. This means that excess sugar is not burned by the body’s cells, but instead gets stored as fat. Insulin sensitivity varies from person to person. Some people can cut their carbs to 100grams a day and can lose weight and remain thin. Other people need to lower their carbs to under 25grams a day to lose weight. If you are on a low carb diet and not losing weight, you may need to cut your carb intake even more. Remember that everyone’s metabolism is different. Some people can eat a large amount of food and remain thin. Others are not as lucky. As we get older and lose muscle mass our metabolism slows down. We burn less calories at rest compared to when we were younger. A good way to naturally increase your metabolism is to increase muscle mass by lifting weights. More muscle mass leads to a higher metabolism and more calories burned at rest. The take home message is that everyone is different. Do not believe anyone who claims their diet is the best for everyone. What works for others, may not work for you. The key is to experiment and find what does work for you. Again, you can never go wrong avoiding processed food and sugar in your diet. A good rule of thumb that everyone can follow includes a diet of unprocessed, whole foods that your body recognizes as food. For most people, including a good amount of protein in every meal can help with weight loss. As noted above, cutting back on carbs is also important in losing weight. However, the exact amount will vary from person to person. Therefore, experiment a little with your diet if you are not having success. Keep a food diary if needed. Find what works specifically for you. One size does not fit all.
Planning ahead is critical to avoid wrecking your healthy lifestyle by sudden moments of temptation. If you get hungry at home and a big jar of candy or cookies is steering you in the face, keeping to your diet becomes quite difficult. If you get hungry and are at the mall, you may be tempted to eat one of those gooey chocolate chip cookies which you can seem to smell throughout the entire mall. Those large soft pretzels always seem to be calling my name! Furthermore, if you are on a road trip and get hungry you may be tempted by a snack at a convenience store such as chips or candy. The key is to plan ahead. At home, make sure you have healthy low calorie snacks ready to eat. Have fruit and vegetables cut up and ready to eat. Get rid of all junk food snacks. Do not even have them in your house, or you will be tempted! If you are going to be out, make sure you have snacks with you. Apples, oranges, bananas, and carrots are easy to carry along. Bring a small bag of nuts to munch on. You do not want to be in a situation where you are famished and then make bad food choices that you later regret. It can get difficult on the road when you are traveling. It is possible to eat healthy on the road, but it make take some extra time and effort. Look for grocery stores or markets that carry healthier choices. With computers and cell phones, it is now easy to find healthier options that are convenient. Look for restaurants that have healthier choices. Avoid fast food restaurants. When traveling, pack snacks to bring along with you. Long car trips can make you hungry – avoid mindlessly eating processed carbs such as chips, pretzels and cookies. Traveling through airports can also be difficult, especially when you are short on time and there are so many convenient fast food restaurants on the way to your gate. Again, plan ahead. Either bring food with you or look for healthy alternatives. Look for maps of the terminals to help find healthier options. Do not give in to temptation. Going out to the mall or traveling do not have to result in poor dietary choices. Plan ahead. Eat ahead of time. If your stomach is already filled, you will be less likely to make bad choices. Do not wreck all your hard work by a quick momentary lapse of discretion. The calories in those gooey cookies and large soft pretzels add up quickly!