How to Start a (Sensible) Healthy Eating Plan and Stick to It Past January
Registered dietician Brooke Alpert has been working with clients in private practice in New York City for 10 years, but when it came to losing baby weight after the birth of her second child, she got stuck. After considering the quick-fix cleanses that she steers clients away from, she realized that she had to create her own set of rules—not a diet, per se, but a way of living that was sustainable for the long haul.
The result is The Diet Detox: Why Your Diet Is Making You Fat and What To Do About It. In it, she outlines the pillars of a healthy diet. In doing so, she wants people to reconsider the word diet itself as that sustains us, fulfills us, and isn’t only embarked upon when our jeans get tight.
Here she shares five of her non-negotiable rules:
1. Eat protein and fiber at every meal.
“No matter what, the first directive for all my clients is to have P & F (protein and fiber) at each of their meals. I wanted to create a consistent objective that would help my clients determine if what they are eating is ‘correct.’ A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that if you eat more protein, then you end up eating less overall. And fiber is one of the three pillars that help slow down the absorption of sugar, along with protein and fat. That’s why eating a piece of fruit is so much smarter than drinking juice.”
2. Check your starches.
“The foods that I have categorized as starches get broken down quickly and absorbed by the body as sugar. Since starches are easy to overeat, we tend to consume too much of them and then our body is flooded with too much sugar. But when you ban an entire food group, from a behavioral standpoint you set people up to fail and rebound and yo-yo. That’s not long-term weight loss or maintenance. And that’s why watching your starch portions is a great way to lose weight and keep it off.
Have no more than two servings of starch a day, and make sure they are good-quality, whole-grain options or starchy vegetables. Try to save them for dinner whenever possible. It sets you up for a better night’s sleep because the carbohydrates can help you fall asleep more quickly, plus it’s a nice way to end the day.”
3. Clock your meals
“The long-term goal of any diet plan that will lead to long-term success is to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible. Nothing good happens when your blood sugar is on a roller coaster of highs and lows, and unpleasant feelings are created, as aptly described by my favorite word, hangry. Having a meal or snack every four hours allows your body to be fueled without creating the urge to overeat, which happens when you allow too much time to pass between meal. And leave at least 12 to 14 hours between your dinner and the following breakfast.”
4. Indulge intentionally.
“Many people have a misconception of what a diet really is and are used to incredible restrictions with no wiggle room. Are you actually dieting if you get to eat a cookie or a slice of pizza? That’s why the whole notion of a diet doesn’t make any sense, because you can’t avoid everything forever. What I’ve discovered in my practice is that feeling guilty about your food choices leads you to make additional poor food choices. So basically any restrictive diet is setting you up to fail. That’s the beauty of an intentional indulgence, or giving yourself permission to eat something off-label so to speak—it takes away the guilt.”
5. Get some sleep.
Alpert, the author of The Diet Detox
“I find it kind of hilarious that I can get clients to give up artificial sweeteners or even booze, but they are much more resistant if I ask them to go to bed a little earlier. Many scientific studies show a connection between sleep—or lack of sleep—and weight and health issues. Aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. Set yourself up for a good night of sleep by skipping the booze, eating dinner two to four hours before bedtime, being consistent with your sleep schedule, and avoiding too much blue light exposure from electronic devices."
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors