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My diet is a lifestyle change

Is a Solution for:
Fitness & Weight Loss
October 24, 2011 Reviewed by Marta 6 Comments
The thing that most people don’t tell you about dieting is that it is really hard. There are no lose weight fast miracle diets (except, perhaps, dysentery) and I am convinced that even the concept of “going on a diet” is setting us up for failure. I realized that if wanted to lose weight and keep it off, I’d have to change the way that that I ate. For good. In other words, its not about going on a diet, but making a lifestyle change. It wasn’t at all easy at first, but it has now become second nature and, since I was asked by Stephanie the other day, a typical week food-wise for me is goes more or less like this.

The most important thing is that it’s not just about what I eat, it’s how much. Portions in America are vast, particularly if you eat out. Even grabbing a salad at the deli can result in 1,000 calories. Basically, I found that I needed to halve the quantity of food on my plate.

I found that a good tactic at lunchtime was to eat half my meal, wait an hour and eat the rest. It feels weird and takes some discipline to consume only half a sandwich and have it sit on your desk temptingly for an hour. But works really well – I found I’d be far less hungry and eat much less than usual in the evening. Also it is good training to get those portions down because after a while, the half size becomes the norm.

Secondly, I find it is necessary to eat strategically. It is impossible to be good every single day. There’s the occasional lapse when temptation gets the better of you, or you find yourself travelling and eating crap at an airport. If this happens, I make up for it by having a low calorie meal with a lot of healthy things the first opportunity I get. I use the same principle to avoid double dipping. If I have carbs at lunch – say bread – then I don’t eat carbs at all in the evening.

I find it really helpful to start the day right. I hardly ever have bread, muffins or any other “bad” carbs breakfast. Instead I have granola, which I make in a huge batch that lasts 2-3 weeks (it's filling, healthy, and cheaper than buying breakfast on the way to the office), fruit and low fat or zero fat plain yoghurt. I take this to the office on weekdays.

Weekday lunches are typically 1) soup (a good way of upping the veggie intake) and half a sandwich (I sometimes buy a whole one but eat only half the bread and all the filling), 2) soup and a small salad, if I am atoning for a heavy meal the day before 3) a salad that involves filling but low calorie things like pulses, beans and grains and some chicken. Weekend lunches usually involve cheese (my secret vice), or eggs, bread and lots of lettuce and tomatoes.

I love to cook and making dinner is very relaxing for me. But basically it tends to be fish or meat with vegetables. I try to eat rice or potatoes no more than once a week. Two nights a week are likely to be totally vegetarian. Again, if I‘ve indulged (I adore burgers and French fries, Indian food, anything with chocolate), then I keep the next few meals as simple as can be.

I do believe that eating foods that are high in antioxidants - which is most vegetables, fruits, pulses and nuts - contributes to overall good health and better skin. And the more I eat these foods, the more I like them and find greasy, sugary, starchy things pretty unappetizing. It is possible to retrain your taste buds. The picture above was taken in my kitchen with whatever was around.

Eating like this is totally second nature and by self-regulating in this way I don’t feel deprived or as if on a permanent miserable diet. I more or less eat what I want, but have drastically controlled quantity and dramatically increased the amount of fruit and vegetables in my diet (the best result of which is that I no longer take high blood pressure medication).

Last tip: to get started, keep a food diary. To train myself to eat this way, I wrote down every morning what I had eaten the day before. This really helped me strategize how I should eat for the rest of the day. Sure, some days I would skip making the notes, but eventually I would and then make sure I played catch up. After a few months, I didn’t need to keep the diary any longer. That’s when I knew it was becoming a new way of life.
  • February 14, 2013

    by Tom

    Great suggestions Marta, very practical for people living in the real world. I especially like the idea of eating really well after indulging in something not so healthy. One thing our family does is concoct super smoothies in the morning and use them as milk on hot or cold cereal. They are nutritious and taste great most of the time. We mix a whole food protein powder called Action Whey with Garden of Life's Raw Meal in raw, almond and coconut milk and then add any other goodies around likes nut butters, fruit or greens. Kids love it and it adds quality nutrients to breakfast.

  • October 26, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Jetaime - here it is and I've added the link to the article (thanks for pointing that out).

  • October 26, 2011

    by Jetaime

    Would love the link to your breakfast recipe, it doesn't seem to be there.

  • October 25, 2011

    by Shiva Steve Ordog

    You are on a wonderful journey to health. I can really identify with the healthier way you are eating and feeling. As for me, Bela and I have been doing a "green smoothie" regimen since July 4. We make these drinks primarily with fresh vegetables and fruits, organic if possible. We supplement with nuts and seeds. I am a vegetarian and she is not. I have seen dramatic health results. I lost weight, feel more vigor, and have a quieter mind. This is especially noticeable to me due to the yoga and meditation. I believe the main benefits are removing fried foods, processed food, white flour, refined sugar, meat, dairy and oils. At the current time, I am 8 lbs to ideal weight and have eliminated blood pressure meds. I am also finding freer and easier movement in yoga.

    The biggest benefit though, has been noticed by others. My skin has become softer, more supple and appears younger. People are raving about how Bela looks from doing this!

  • October 24, 2011

    by Marta

    Well, I went to west Africa in the summer and got pretty sick. I lost 10 lbs in 10 days - not a good thing. However, I deliberately didn't put it all back on reserving a few pounds as I felt I looked a little better with my weight back on, but not quite all of it. I don't count calories - unless I am about to eat something that I am not sure about (such as a bag of chips on JetBlue - surprisingly only 110). So I am really guessing when I say maybe 1,500 to 2,000. But the key is that if I have a day when I feel as if I have eaten at the upper end of the range then I'll consciously try to hit the lower end of the range and make sure I exercise etc.

  • October 24, 2011

    by Junko

    Have you recently lost more than just a few pounds Marta, as your recent photo's have your face looking much slimmer? Since you typically have the same type/size meals each day, can you share with us what your typical daily caloric intake is?

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