Was last night your “farewell to food night?” It’s OK, you’re among friends. You’re also not alone. Many people admit they indulged in a fast food meal or their favourite desserts the night before starting to eat healthier. They feel like they need to get in a last blast of goodies before they start eating carrot sticks and lettuce leaves. All or nothing is their motto, ready to make quick changes that may give them quick results. Pardon us, but that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, does it? Rather than dieting, lets develop healthful ways of eating and other lifestyle habits that can be lived with comfortably over the long run. That’s the best way to guarantee you’ll reach your goals, so unclench your teeth and smile. This is going to be fun.

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Dieting

Dieting is a temporary way of eating. It involves a list of do’s and don’ts and conjures up feelings of deprivation and guilt.It is a quick fix. Dieting often leads to yo-yo weight cycling and temporary changes in eating habits. You lose weight while you’re on the diet, only to gain the weight back and more once you’re back to eating the old way, the way that pushed you towards dieting in the first place. Yo-yo weight cycling can be physically and psychologically harmful. Only rarely does it result in long term success. Unless you are prepared to make changes for good, the positive results you see initially will be short-lived.

Weight loss

There are several reasons why people want to lose weight. It may be to lose the extra pounds that mysteriously crept on over the last ten years, shed the extra weight gained during pregnancy, lose weight after being injured, or it may be for a medical reasons or a special occasion. Whatever the reason, the approach remains the same. Start eating healthier, be active and the results will follow. That’s it. No magic formula, it just works.

Measuring success

The scale may tell you that you have lost one pound this week but it doesn’t tell you anything about how you are eating, how you feel or how healthy you are. Scales can rule your emotions and drain your energy. They are your friends if you are losing weight but are discouraging reminders if you are not. Scales also encourage you to think in temporary terms, which is not a good formula for long-term success. If you are improving your health and losing body fat, you will feel it. Measure your success by tracking how you feel, the energy you have and how your clothes fit. Get off the scale, stick it on the top shelf of your closet and forget about it.Move on to more important things. Focus your energy on feeding your mind and body with good nutrition.

Program for success

There is no quick fix or magic pill for changing eating habits, no matter what you hear or read. Success does not come over night. It comes with eating well, consistently over time.Making these changes doesn’t require that you be perfect.Who can do that? In fact, there is no perfect way to eat. It does however, require a positive attitude and commitment.Minimize any negative thoughts you have and think about the positive things you can do today. Focus on the action—eating well, instead of the result—weight loss. Remember that setbacks are normal and you can recover and move forward again. Whether you want to lose weight or change your eating habits for another reason, the formula remains the same. Avoid diets and start eating healthier

Basic Ingredients For A Healthy Diet

What does a balanced diet mean?Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating is a practical approach to good nutrition and an excellent guide to achieving the right balance in your life. Today’s Food Guide is a rainbow shape, based on nutritional guidelines from Health and Welfare Canada and wasdesigned to meet the nutritional needs of all Canadians four years of age and older. The Food Guide shows you how many servings to eat from each food group and what amount equals one serving. Isn’t the amount of food on Canada’s Food Guide a lot to eat?
There is a range of serving sizes suggested for each food group because different people need different amounts of food. The minimum number of servings isn’t all that much food. In fact most people’s needs fall somewhere in the middle of the servings recommended (refer to Canada’s Food Guide in this section for information about serving sizes).
The Food Guide is a good start but how do I know what foods are best for me? Let’s zoom in on the foods you want to choose regularly and those you want to choose less often.

Grain Products:

Choose whole grain and enriched products more often.

Choose most often

  • Cereals with 3 grams or more fibre per serving
  • Whole grain bread, pita bread, bagels, tortillas (whole wheat, multi-grain and rye)
  • Pasta and rice
  • Plain cookies such as arrowroot, social tea, graham wafers
  • Lower fat crackers such as soda crackers, melba toast, bread sticks
  • Plain popcorn (or lightly buttered)

Choose less often

  • High-fat granola cereal,high sugar cereals
  • Croissants
  • Doughnuts
  • High-fat cookies and muffins
  • Cakes, pies and pastries
  • Buttered popcorn

Fruits and Vegetables:

Choose dark green and orange vegetables and orange fruit more often.

Choose most often

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Canned or frozen vegetables
  • Canned or frozen fruit
  • Vegetable or fruit juices—unsweetened
  • Avocados and olives in moderation

Choose less often

  • French fries
  • Vegetables in cream sauces
  • Deep fried vegetables
  • Coconut

Milk Products:

Choose lower fat milk products more often.

Choose most often

  • Milk—1% or skim
  • Yogurt—2% milk fat or less
  • Cheese—20% milk fat or less
  • Cottage cheese—2% milk fat or less
  • Light cream cheese
  • Sherbet, frozen yogurt, ice milk

Choose less often

  • Whole milk
  • High-fat yogurt
  • Regular high-fat cheese
  • Regular cream cheese
  • Ice cream

Meat and Alternatives:

Choose leaner meats, poultry and fish, as well as dried peas, beans and lentils more often.

Choose most often

  • Legumes such as chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas
  • Chicken and turkey without the skin
  • Fish canned in water
  • Fresh or frozen fish and seafood (not breaded and deep fried)
  • Lean ham, back bacon
  • Lean meats such as inside round, sirloin, rump roast, pork tenderloin, veal, extra lean ground beef, lean ground turkey
  • Soybean products (tofu, textured vegetable protein, vegetable patties, soy milk)
  • Eggs in moderation or egg whites
  • Peanut butter in moderation

Choose less often

  • Ribs, strip bacon, regular ground beef, sausages, hot dogs
  • Duck, goose
  • Fish canned in oil
  • Battered and deep fried fish
  • Organ meats
  • High-fat luncheon meat like salami, bologna
  • Deep fried foods or those in pastry shells (quiche, pot pies)

Is there really a fifth food group?

There is a group called “other foods” that includes foods and beverages that aren’t represented in the other four groups. Because some of these foods are higher in fat and calories the Food Guide recommends using them in moderation. Examples of “other foods” are chips, chocolate bars and pop.They can still fit into a well-balanced diet, just don’t make a habit of overloading on them. Consider them extras that don’t provide a lot of nutritional benefit.

What does moderation mean?

This is a tricky one to answer. Moderation means something different for everyone. Someone who requires 2,500 calories a day has more room to fit in “other foods” and still meet their nutritional needs. Another person who requires 1,500 calories a day doesn’t have as much room to fit in less nutritious foods. Make sure extras like pop and cookies don’t take away from choosing most of your foods from the main four food groups. If you are going to gain weight, it is more than likely that the “other foods” are the culprits.

Do I need to worry if I ignore one of the food groups?

Foods in each group provide their own special set of nutrients. If you miss out on foods from one particular group your diet is likely to be lacking in certain nutrients. Also, by eating different foods within each group you gain the special benefits that each food has to offer. Variety is the spice of life, so enjoy.

Ladies & Gentlemen… Start Your Engines

You have decided to change your eating habits for the better.You may want to lose weight, decrease your risk of certain diseases or boost your energy level. Immediately you start to think about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid.

But wait: before restocking those kitchen cupboards take inventory of your attitude towards healthy eating. Here are the key steps that will prepare you for a successful ride towards healthier living.

STEP 1 Look on the bright side
When you think about changing your eating habits, do you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or deprived? Or do you feel excited, confident and eager? If you generally have positive feelings, then you’re off to a good start. If you have negative thoughts, is it because of failure at previous attempts, lack of support, a dislike for healthier foods or a lack of perceived benefits? Get ready to put the past behind you and discover a successful way of changing your eating habits. Turning a negative approach into a positive one will make the ride much smoother.

STEP 2 View your change as a treat to yourself rather than an exercise in deprivation.
Have you ever thought of eating a crunchy green apple as a treat? You may be more likely to think of a chocolate bar as a way to spoil yourself. Do you hesitate to pay for a red pepper out of season, but don’t think twice about buying potato chips at the same price? OK, stick with us on this one: By filling up on fat and sugar, you are actually depriving yourself of all the benefits that go along with eating well. If you fuel yourself with energizing foods, you are giving yourself a chance to get the most out of life. Now that’s a treat!

STEP 3 Easy does it.
Be careful not to change your eating habits too quickly. Radical change feels like deprivation and that’s not very enjoyable.Give your body or mind a chance to adjust. Changing things too quickly means that eventually (and that can happen pretty soon for some people) you start missing the old ways of eating and the changes become harder to sustain. Instead, make improvements gradually. Eat breakfast, drink two more glasses of water, or eat one more fruit a day. Small changes like these add up to big gains. And by slowly making changes you can actually train your taste buds to prefer less fatty, less sweet foods. Check your progress by comparing how you are eating at any one time to how you were eating the previous month, or the previous year. If you see improvement, you are on the right track. Gradual changes boost your chance for life long—and long life—success.

STEP 4 Look beyond tomorrow.
You may have a certain short term goal, such as weight loss.But there is no use setting a goal if you can not sustain it.Make realistic plans that you can achieve and maintain over the long run. Stress is alleviated and the journey becomes more enjoyable when you are making changes for the long term.

STEP 5 Make it a priority.
There are likely many different areas of your life that require your time and energy. Making changes to your eating habits also requires this commitment. As you start making improvements you will realize the returns you earn on the investment are substantial.

STEP 6 Bring others along for the ride.
Surround yourself with people who support your efforts for a healthier lifestyle and refuse to listen to naysayers and negative types. Even if those close to you aren’t healthy eaters, they may still be on your side and eager to help. Ask them how they feel about your decision to eat healthier and if you can, rely on their support. They may be willing to purchase certain foods that you want, congratulate you on your successes and encourage you when you need it most. If you need additional support and guidance, enlist the help of a Registered Dietitian.

STEP 7 Be aware of influences. Busy schedule:
Is your hectic lifestyle a common excuse to grab fast food? Decide that your busy schedule will no longer interfere with
your food choices. The extra energy you get from healthy eating will help you accomplish anything you want.

Social events: Is your life filled with social events that inevitably lead to poor eating? Do you feel social pressure to eat like those around you? The good news is, you can still be social while achieving your goals. However, be careful not to let others convince you to eat foods that you would rather leave behind. Keep in mind food is a pleasant accent to the event. It is there to be enjoyed, not to be the centre of attention. In fact, there’s a good chance nobody notices what is on your plate. They’re too busy concentrating on their own meal.

Friends and family: Do friends and family set a good example or do their poor eating habits rub off on you? Do you eat large servings to please the cook? Surrounding yourself with people who like to eat healthy food does make it easier for you. If those around you eat poorly, do not let it deter you from your goals. When they see the benefits you gain from healthy eating it may be enough to convince them to tag along on your journey.

STEP 8 Think of all the rewards.

  • increased energy level
  • better weight management
  • improved sleep
  • improved physical performance
  • increased mental energy
  • stronger immune system
  • increased ability to handle stress
  • decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes

Which rewards are important to you?

STEP 9 Have fun!
View your journey as an experiment in eating. Be adventurous.

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