If you’re on a road trip, maybe your only option is a gas station sandwich and a can of energy drink, when a kale and avocado salad and mint tea just aren’t available or going to satisfy. So when it comes to a healthy eating plan, it’s good to think over the course of a week, allowing yourself the freedom to be flexible, even to “sin,” a few times within that week. It feels more natural, less arduous, more humane, but it’s still better than not watching your diet at all. So how can you approach such a plan?
There are many schools of thought, but we might break them down as follows. One option is to limit portion size. You don’t want to feel hungry, as that will quickly put you off dieting altogether, but if you eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day, that’s a good approach. That doesn’t mean snacking—that’s an important distinction—but proper meal food (that means about half of your meal should be vegetable, a quarter protein and a quarter starch).
Another way is to completely cut out the foods that are bad for you. We know what they are, and doctors agree: processed foods, white foods (with white flour), sugary foods, very fatty foods. The problem is, we like those foods. No, we love them. So this approach requires a good deal of self-control. If you cut these foods out of your diet, you will certainly be healthier, but not everyone has the grit to truly do so.
In recent years, it has become a la mode to try a fasting diet. When our body is “starving” (which I mean in the gentlest way, having missed a meal or having eaten a good deal less than your body is used to), the brain tells the body to start using the stored fat, resulting in our losing weight. But it has a surprising secondary benefit of our bodies starting to heal themselves, as well, as the body morphs into “survival’ mode. But you have to be careful and do this sort of fasting diet with a doctor’s supervision, as you must strike a balance between what’s good for you and what can be potentially too much. A happy medium version of the “fast diet” sees eating around 1000 calories a day (a good deal less than what you would normally consume) for two days, then eating whatever you like for one day (and we mean whatever you like, and as much as you like, including bacon cheeseburgers with a side of fries covered in cheese sauce), then one fasting day, then one more anything-you-like day. And then repeat. Your body uses up stored fat and provokes the good health benefits on the fasting days, and the anything-you-like days don’t seem to mess up the routine, so you can still indulge. Psychologically, too, it feels easier to eat light for two days if you know you can eat what you like on the third.