Ditch the Diets: Here Are the 5 Best Ways to Eat to Build Healthy Habits in 2021
When was the last time you tried a new diet? Maybe you've tried them all: cutting out sugar, going keto, low-fat, calories restriction, and none of it was sustainable. Here is the problem: Diets don't work. What does? New strategies that help you change your mindset and your lifestyle, to build lasting, healthy habits that allow you to eat satisfying, nutritious meals, maintain your optimal weight, and prevent the onset of major lifestyle diseases.
Instead of dieting, start by making smarter, healthier changes to your lifestyle like eliminating meat and dairy from your plate, swapping simple carbs for complex ones (like whole grains), and eating strategically so your body has a chance to digest and reset. These are just a few of the most effective approaches that will help you reach your goals if you want to sleep better, increase your immunity, have more energy and focus, lose some unwanted weight, and live your healthiest. To find out which of these strategies works best for you, we rounded up the 5 best ways to eat healthily and feel better in 2021 and beyond.
Diets come, and diets go, a new survey finds. Instead, make eating healthy a lifestyle
For many of us, the start of a new year is a time to set new intentions and goals, yet, on average, New Year's resolutions die midway through the month, on or about January 15th, lasting an average of just two weeks.
In a new survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of MyNetDiary, Americans confessed they have been on four diets in the past five years and quit during half of them. The top factors that contributed to giving up: The undo amount of effort required (35%), the lack of support (28%), and a lack of time (27%). These diet problems seem to be the biggest bump in the road as nearly half of the participants said that "if they get off track once on a diet, they can never get back on track with it." Here are the best ways to ditch the diets and make lasting healthy habits.
Here are 5 ways to eat to feel your best and reach your goals. Just don't call it a diet
Not every style of eating works for everybody, so we rounded up 5 healthy, nutritionist-approved, achievable ways to eat to improve sleep, energy levels, immunity, performance, and more. Find out which strategy works best for you, then commit to yourself and make smarter decisions to reach your goals now and forever.
1. A whole-food plant-based approach to healthy eating
A whole-food plant-based approach consists of filling your plate and snacking on fruits, vegetables, legumes such as beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and tofu or other plant-based protein sources that are minimally processed. "These foods are rich in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats," says Natalie Rizzo, a registered dietitian based in New York City. "Eating these nutrients has been directly linked with lower risks of diseases," she adds. This also means cutting out packaged or junk foods that are high in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fat and preservatives, so you are bound to lose weight when you start eating this way.
A whole-food plant-based approach may help you lose weight but is also beneficial for lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), improving sleep and energy levels, and clearing up any minor health complaints like digestive issues or bloating. Studies have shown that a whole-food plant-based approach can lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and every other lifestyle-related ailment including high blood pressure, and more. Pair this approach with regular exercised to achieve your optimal weight and healthy living goals.
2. A low-carb, modified keto approach that is plant-based and healthy
The Keto diet is one of the most popular trending diets right now with 25.4 million searches this past year, or nearly 70,000 online searches per day, according to Google Search Volumes so we would be remiss if we didn't address the most popular approach to weight loss right now. However, you can achieve the same benefits without having to eat a diet of bacon and animal fat if you modify the keto approach and choose plant-based foods that are relatively low in carbs. The difference is that a traditional keto diet leads to weight loss by adding an abundance of calories from fat which is both heart-unhealthy and difficult to sustain, whereas a plant-based approach to low-carb eating (keeping net carbs to just 5 percent of your daily intake) means loading up on healthy whole foods like avocado, nuts, and seeds.
Dr. Andrew Freeman, the cardiologist at National Jewish Health in Denver says that a traditional keto diet can lead to heart disease as dieters rely on processed meats, putting their heart health at risk. The healthy approach to what we would call a plant-based Keto plan calls for eating mostly leafy green vegetables, sprouts, avocados, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds which when you calculate your fiber intake (subtracting that from total carbs) it's easy to bring your net carbohydrates in at under 5 grams daily. Just don't consider this a diet but a lifestyle approach to eating low-carb plant-based whole foods and you will be able to stick with it.
3. Intermittent fasting as a natural way to release toxins and boost immunity
There are many different ways to eat for health and to lose weight, but one of the oldest strategies known to human beings is intermittent fasting, which focuses on when to eat. Proponents of this approach believe intermittent fasting was how our bodies were built to be fed (back when our ancestors had to hunt or gather their next meal and it could take hours or even days between feeding ourselves, so our bodies adapted). By eating in short windows of time and then going for many hours between meals, it allows our cells to repair and actually rebuild our immunity by taking away the added job of metabolizing food and the toxins that come with it. This process is known as autophagy and it literally means to scrub or cleanse yourself which is essentially what the body does when it's left alone without the extra burden of dealing with an influx of calories for a period of time.
Fasting for a specific period of time, which can be anything from 12 hours to a full day, and then eating in the following window and choosing healthy foods when you do eat, leads to natural weight loss. It allows your body to use its stored energy as fuel, which means once it runs out of blood sugar and glycogen, it then has to mobilize fat to burn as fuel, which leads you to rapidly lose weight. Many doctors and nutritionists recommend this method to their clients who want to lose weight naturally and still eat what they like (so long as they don't overdo it). In addition, IF is proven to slow the aging process by allowing your body to release toxins and repair cells during the fastiing phase. It is also proven to help boost immunity for the same reason.
Registered dietician Alicia Galvin says, "when you intermittent fast, you are actually giving your body and your cells a chance to recover from stresses and toxins. Your cells' mitochondria get to repair, which leads to healthier cells and disease prevention. And letting your body repair itself is really great for brain health as well.".
4. Oil-free cooking and eating, known to prevent disease and weight gain
Granola bars, plant-based milk, and bread all are hidden sources of oil in your food. One of the biggest misconceptions about healthy eating is that some oils are less caloric than others. One tablespoon of vegetable oil contains 124 calories. So while you may be focusing on sugar the oil in packaged foods is hard to avoid because it's used to keep these items from spoiling and to bind the ingredients together. On average, Americans eat three tablespoons of vegetable oil per day whether they know it or not. That is equivalent to 372 calories.
For this reason, many nutritionists claim that the key to healthy and lasting weight loss is simply adopting an oil-free diet, to avoid all those "sneaky" extra calories. Chef AJ, a popular vegan chef who lost 100 pounds when she eliminated oil from her diet several years ago, has now become an outspoken advocate for reducing oil in our daily diets. She lost the weight by following a low-fat, high-carb, oil-free approach, which included dry baked potatoes and other starchy vegetables every day. She noticed a difference in her energy, sleep, and of course her waistline.
If one of your goals is to eat heart healthier and feel lighter, lose weight, and have more energy, try ditching oil from your meals for one week and see how you feel. It's not as hard as it may sound: Use vegetable stock instead of olive oil when cooking stir fry or sauteing vegetables, and stick to crushed fresh tomatoes on top of your pasta since many store-bought red sauces contain significant amounts of oil.
The 28 Day Plant-Based Meal Plan to feel your healthiest now and later
If you want to get healthy and feel your all-around best, the 28-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan is full of delicious plant-based recipes without any calorie restrictions, but that are high in fiber and antioxidants to fuel your healthy body. Instead of eating less food, you will eat more grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds with creative, delicious recipes. Follow this meal plan for one month and you'll notice a boost in energy, more restful sleep, and a cleaner, less-stressed body with less inflammation as a result of ditching all dairy and animal products. When you sign up, you will get more than 40 delicious plant-based recipes, 28 motivational tips, four weekly shopping lists, access to the supportive Facebook group, and daily emails that lay out the whole plan for you.
There are several health benefits when you eat a plant-based diet. Studies have shown that following a diet free of animal products (which cause inflammation) and full of fresh fruits and vegetables, high in antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamins, has been proven to lower your risk of all major lifestyle diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, as well as certain cancers. This approach also makes it easier for you to lose weight, and stick to a heart-healthy diet.