From Deprivation Dieting to Enjoying a Healthier Lifestyle

Strict diet rules are hard to follow for long periods of time. Examples may include banning all carbs from your diet or never allowing yourself to enjoy treat-type foods ever again.

Because losing weight and getting healthier are really important to you, you may challenge yourself to follow these rules in hopes that this time will be different and help you achieve your goals.

But a limited eating plan, especially one that leaves you feeling deprived, can only be followed for so long before life gets in the way.

Instead, there is a better way to eat healthier and live better.

Healthy eating and living are all about finding foods and activities you enjoy and without feeling deprived.

Here are 5 ways to start giving to yourself, instead of depriving yourself:

1 – Add More Good-for-You Foods to Your Daily Diet

  • Eat more plant-based foods (e.g. vegetables, salads, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds)
  • Choose higher fiber and better-quality whole grains (e.g. oatmeal, whole wheat cereal, bread or tortillas; brown or wild rice) instead of refined, white grains (e.g. white rice, pasta, breads, crackers, buns, rolls)
  • Select leaner protein sources (e.g. eggs, chicken, fish, turkey, pork loin, lean beef, tofu) and lower-fat dairy products (fat free or lower fat milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese)
  • Incorporate a moderate amount of healthy fats into your diet (e.g. fatty fish such as salmon or albacore tuna; avocados, walnuts, olive oil, peanut butter, nut butters)

The goal is as you incorporate more of these foods into your daily diet, you displace your intake of less healthful foods like fried foods, foods with saturated fats like fatty meats, butter and cream sauces and high-sugar, highly processed foods like cakes, cookies, brownies, candies.

2 – Treat Yourself

Life is too short to not be able to treat yourself now and then. Treats can be a part of a healthy eating program when you plan for them.

Rather than ban all treat type foods from your eating plan, find some calorie-controlled options that you enjoy. Options may include:

  • Cup of raspberries with whipped cream
  • 1-ounce chocolate square and mint tea
  • No- bake energy bites (find recipe online if you don’t already have one)

3 – Find Activities You Enjoy

Studies show that when you find an activity that elicits positive emotions, you’ll be more likely to adhere to it. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Pair working out with a new music playlist, podcast or audiobook
  • Put exercise equipment in a room with a TV and pair your workouts with your top, exercise-only shows
  • Buddy up with a family member, friend, colleague or your dog to engage in a regular walking program
  • Try a new activity that sounds fun like ballroom or zumba dancing, pickleball, paddleball, tennis, biking or swimming

4 – De-Stress Regularly

Stress is a part of life. But if it’s not controlled it can lead you to seek unhealthy behaviors like drinking too much alcohol, choosing unhealthy foods or overeating.

The following de-stressing activities can help:

  • Use a meditation app regularly on your smart phone
  • Talk it out with the supportive people in your life
  • Get moving by taking brisk walks
  • Get enough hours of restful sleep

5 – Practice Self-Compassion

New research on self-compassion shows that self-compassionate individuals experience less anxiety, less depression, more happiness and greater satisfaction in life.

Treating yourself better and not judging yourself will help you better reach your weight loss goals.

This is easier to do when you don’t deprive yourself and give to yourself.

Enjoy your health!


Robert Kushner, MD


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