It is the time we once again all think about New Year’s Resolutions. But this year I want to challenge you to do something a little different. Instead of thinking about general New Year’s Resolutions, what if you honed in to focus on “Diet Resolutions?” How are you going to improve your diet throughout this year? In this blog post, I’m going to share four diet resolutions and the strategy within each resolution that you can use to help shed weight this year and see success. I’m even going to show you my progress that I made in one year incorporating these diet hacks.
Resolution #1: Understand the Difference between Primary and Secondary Food
Holistic health is all about the overall picture. The food on the plate isn’t the only food you consume. Did you know that? Holistic health is all about how we feed ourselves in four categories:
If these four categories are out of line, then most likely it won’t matter what your diet looks like. For example, even if you have a great diet, yet you never go to the gym, is your body going to see as great of improvements as if you went? If you aren’t physically active, is your diet really all that good? In an article dealing with social health I posted last year, I looked at how obesity is contagious. I looked at how the people we hang out with can influence us to make bad or healthy choices when it comes to lifestyle.
So, this year, I want you to consider improving your primary food as part of a healthy diet resolution. Make sure you are taking care of yourself socially, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I touch on this slightly in my this blog post about holistic health, but I plan on making a more in-depth post later.
Resolution #2: Make a Mindset Shift
Once you understand primary foods and how much they affect us, it is time to make one more mindset shift that is going to set us up for success. This next tip may get some pushback, but I want you to be open to it.
The only thing that matters are calories.
I’ll repeat that.
The only thing that matters are calories.
Hear me out and let me explain.
The best diet is the one that you can sustain for the rest of your life. If that is Keto for you, fantastic. I love my carbs too much to do Keto forever. If it is Intermittent Fasting, great, then only eat in your specified time window. Whatever it is that is easy for you to maintain with your lifestyle, do it. Just understand this that calories are the only thing that really matters.
In any of these diets, when they equate calories with someone who eats continually throughout the day (like myself) there is no substantial weight loss difference. Intermittent Fasting works because by restricting your time window, you are restricting your caloric intake. Keto works because by cutting out carbs from your diet, you are restricting the food options you have available to you, and this most likely results in a caloric deficit. By themselves, though, they are nothing special. And there is no data to prove this. (If there is link it below in the comments). After all, even if you only ate during an eight-hour window but you ate McDonalds the whole time, you would still gain weight.
By understanding this concept, that calories are the only thing that matters, it will help you to lead a less restrictive lifestyle. Overall, it will help you with your weight-loss goals and your diet resolutions. For me, the idea has been liberating and has been one of the reasons my diet has worked for me this past year and why I have the results that I have had. I will get to my results in a little, but once we understand this concept about CICO (calories in versus calories out) it is now time we can focus on that food on our plate.
Resolution #3: Make Smarter Choices
This seems rather self-explanatory, and for the most part, it is, but sometimes we just need a healthy reminder of the little things we can do day-to-day to really make an impact on our overall health. Part of my success over the last year has been due to the fact that I have made smarter choices with my diet. For example, instead of using full-fat cream cheese, I use light-fat cream cheese. Instead of using peanut butter, I use powdered peanut butter.
Again, some of these suggestions that I am going to mention may receive pushback but hear me out. Then see my results and tell me if it has worked or not worked.
Tip 1: Don’t be afraid of artificial sweeteners
Growing up, I had the mindset that diet soda is actually worse for me than regular soda because it can lead to brain cancer. However, since the 90s, that claim has been completely debunked. Artificial sweeteners are not going to give you cancer.
This means nothing to you, I’m sure, so let’s break this down even more. There are many types of artificial sweeteners, but for the example I am going to use below, we are focusing on aspartame.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the acceptable daily amount for artificial sweetener like aspartame is set “at 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg; 1 kg=2.2 lb) of body weight per day.”1 What does this mean? Let’s put this into perspective for you. “For a 150-pound person, 3,409 milligrams a day would be safe…. A 12-ounce can of diet soda contains around 200 milligrams of aspartame.”2
This means that a 150-pound individual could have 17 diet sodas every day! How many people are drinking that many diet sodas daily? Do you realize how crazy that is?
Instead of blaming artificial sweeteners and thinking they are the enemy, start learning to love them because they will help dramatically in weight-loss. Diet sodas have next-to-nothing calories. They taste good. And because they are carbonated, they make us feel full and satisfied with our feel, and when we are satisfied, we are less likely to binge and eat junk food.
Just making this shift alone in your diet will result in crazy amounts of weight-loss. I guarantee it. Some easy shifts you can make regarding this are:
- Regular coke for diet coke
- Sugar for zero-calorie sugar
- Oil for Pam Non-stick zero-calorie spray
- Regular syrup for Sugar-free syrup
- Walden Farms or GHughes products if in the U.S.
- Powdered peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter
- Zucchini noodles or moyu noodles instead of pasta
- Light cheeses / no-fat cheeses instead of other options
- Lowest-calorie options on ANYTHING
Tip 2: Eat more fruits and vegetables
This one isn’t going to stir up as much controversy as the first tip because it’s all something that we know we should do. We are taught to do this from a young age, but why? Is it because there is some sort of magic properties in these? Well, yes, actually; the micronutrients we get from fruits and vegetables are so important for us to maintain our physical health. But there is an even bigger reason I mention it here. These items are low in calories, meaning that you can have a bunch of them for hardly any calories.
Consider this example with two of the most popular, and calorically dense, carbs: rice and pasta. Most likely, we use spaghetti noodles for pasta. We use rice for stir fries. Both options, though are high in calories. They are calorically dense. Take a look at the pictures below to see the comparison.
This means that you could have 6 times the amount of zucchini noodles to equal the same amount of calories in regular pasta. Six times the amount people! You are going to get full well before approaching that number, and so that is why this diet tip is so important. By having more fruits and vegetables in our diet, we keep the calories lower and we are more satiated and feel fuller because of the volume of food in our stomach. This idea is known as “volumetrics.” It was coined by Barbara Rolds, Professor at Penn State and Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior.
Tip 3: Eat More Protein
Like eating more fruits and vegetables, the magic thing about protein is that, out of all the macronutrients, protein is the most satiating. In the hierarchy of things, it goes like this:
Tip 2 already talked about eating more fruits and vegetables so that will help us with our fiber requirements, but this tip is going to help take care of our protein needs because when we increase our protein, we increase our satiety. If we feel full, we feel we don’t need to eat, and thus we lose weight.
Not only that, though, but protein also has a higher thermogenic effect on food than carbs and fat. This means that two individuals on the same amount of calories per day but person A consumes more protein than person B, person A is going to burn more calories. It isn’t a mind-blowing amount, but studies have shown that we do burn more calories by ingesting protein and that is because our body has to work harder to break it down in. To learn more about this visit this blog that has a great breakdown of the thermic effect of food.
Resolution #4: Get into the kitchen more!
I have found my passion for cooking over this past year, and I have gotten so good at cooking that I hardly feel the need to eat out anymore. Not only is eating out more expensive, but it is much harder to control and calculate how many calories we are eating when we go out. And, as I mentioned earlier, calories are the only thing that matters.
By cooking at home, I can weigh out everything and thus know pretty accurately how many calories I am putting into my body. It also means I can control the flavor and adjust it to my taste palettes. It makes me feel more accomplished and gives me a sense of confidence. This, in turn, improves my social and mental health as I invite others to try my recipes and trying out new things in the kitchen really stimulates my creativity. Take a look at some of these photos below. I have made cheesecake in my kitchen, donuts, fake peanut butter, which I call bean-nut butter, pizza quesadillas, hamburgers, and the list goes on.
The important thing here is that I don’t limit myself at all. I just make healthier choices (as discussed in our last tip). I take back my power and have made a whole cookbook around the stupid simple recipes that I’ve made. They taste delicious and do wonders for the physique (which I’ll get to in a little; I swear).
In getting creative in the kitchen, I’ve learned to make many of these typically “sinful” delights, like cheesecake healthier, by using artificial sweeteners and protein powder. By making the dishes higher in protein, they keep me full and are way healthier than the counterparts served to you at your local restaurant, which are made in a way to make you want more (meaning it incorporates a lot of fat and sugar).
If you want to get your hands on this cookbook, then make sure you sign up to my newsletter! You’ll be the first to find out when it is finally available. Right now, it is currently getting designed.
To conclude, I want to show you my results this past year. To recap, when thinking about diet resolutions for the year, make sure you:
- Understand your primary food as much as your secondary food
- Understand that calories in versus calories out is the only thing that really matters
- Make smarter choices in the kitchen. This includes:
- Not being afraid of artificial sweeteners, they ain’t going to kill you anyway, folks.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Prioritize protein.
- Get your butt in the kitchen and cook!
Doing all of these things, and I am positive that you will see results. Maybe not as drastic as mine, as I do also work out five days a week, but I guarantee the results will come. You just have to want it enough, and by following those four diet guidelines above, I believe you have it in you.
Over the last year, I lost 10 kg. This is my transformation.
Which of these resolutions are you going to try and incorporate into your diet this year? What else are you going to do to improve your diet this year? Let me know in the comments below!