Whenever I am asked my opinions on My Fitness Pal type tracking apps, counting calories, using Weight Watchers and using a food scale to measure each gram of what you’re eating each day, my response is always the same. Do you want to be putting effort into those things for the rest of your life? Because that is the habit you build by engaging in those behaviors.
For example, if you are logging all of your calories into my fitness pal or a similar app, you haven’t learned how to choose healthful and nutrient dense food. You haven’t learned how to pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. And you haven’t learned how to build balanced meals that regulate your appetite and blood sugar. You’ve taught yourself to search for foods you’ve eaten in an app and then either keep yourself from eating more when you are hungry or overeating at the end of the day if the program estimates that you have “calories leftover”.
I’ve been there and logged that. And it taught me nothing. Now, having practiced as a dietitian for over seven years, I see it teaches most of my clients nothing, too. If you log your food for a couple of days while you’re making efforts to improve your diet to be sure you’re getting enough protein or iron, for example, that’s fine. But put your daily stress and efforts towards things that become effortless!
There are a long list of reasons not to go on a diet this week or any week. In addition to not teaching you how to build healthy habits, “diets” also promote a disordered eating mentality, increase stress levels and promote feelings of failure and negative self-talk.
A diet is just a pattern of eating.
We are all technically “on a diet”, but need to find the pattern that works best for us. Another thing many people have heard me say at seminars, during webinars, in counseling sessions, and in the classroom, is that there’s no one diet for everyone. Start working on finding that pattern that is best for you.
Success in improving health and in weight loss comes with sustainable habit changes. With putting effort into things that don’t stress you out too much and that you can do forever. Small daily steps result in big changes in the long run.
There are a myriad of reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables. They are the most nutrient dense foods available to us and should be the foundation of any diet, no matter what you find your best pattern to be.
- The antioxidant content of fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of all age related diseases including cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes and dementia.
- The phytochemicals in produce reduce inflammation which can mean better recovery for athletes and a healthier immune system.
- Fruits and vegetables provide you with fiber, which is essential to a healthy digestive tract, your immune health, appetite control and your metabolism.
- Fruits and veggies are rich in water and increase your daily fluid intake.
- Fruits and vegetables are proven to decrease stress and make you happier! Studies show more benefits with more servings, all the way up to 8 servings per day!
Starting tomorrow, Monday, January 2,
join me for a week long fruit and veggie challenge.
My hopes are that after a week you’ll notice improvements in mood, energy levels, and appetite control and that you’ll see how easy it is to fit these nutrient powerhouses into each meal and snack. Some days throughout the year you may not meet your mark… that is OKAY! But if you build a habit that allows you to include more fruits and veggies most of the time, your body and mind will thank you!
Based on the dietary guidelines that show adults should consume at least 5 servings per day plus the research mentioned above and the guidelines of the DASH diet recommending 8, set a goal for yourself in that range. If you consistently only eat 2 total fruits and veggies per day (the American average), don’t aim for 8 but for 5. If you already eat 5 a day most days but are having problems with appetite control or are just looking to further improve your health, aim for 6, 7, or 8.
A serving is usually one cup raw, half a cup cooked, and 1/4 cup of dried or dehydrated.
Eat your fruits and veggies, don’t drink them – smoothies can be made healthfully but often drinking calories does not provide the same level of satisfaction from food as chewing it would. Pay attention to this to decide whether smoothies are okay for you. Skip the juice, though. It does not contain the super-nutrient fiber.
Fitting more in won’t be as hard as you think!
Add veggies to omelets, cook them ahead to easily add to dinner or to dip in hummus as a snack, and add them to easy weeknight dishes. Keep frozen fruits and veggies handy so you don’t have to run to the store multiple times per week. Frozen blueberries can easily be added to oatmeal or thawed to top a salad.
I’ll be back next weekend with another small change for January
to help you find which changes are best for you!
Comment below with your favorite fruit, veggie
or favorite preparation of either!
I love fresh berries in the summer but bananas are my year round go-to. For veggies, Brussels sprouts are phenomenal but I would say I crave roasted broccoli the most.
Once again, Happy New Year!
Still overwhelmed and need more personalized help in the New Year? Email me at Kelly.JonesRD@gmail.com for in person counseling in the greater Philadelphia area or virtual counseling from anywhere in the world.