Have you ever tried a fad diet? Did it work for you? How long could you stick with the plan? The variety of fad diets ranges from no carbs, to only cabbage, to smoothies, and the list goes on and on. Most Americans have tried some outlandish craze to drop those 5 or 10 pounds to look good in a bathing suit, wedding dress, or suit for a high school reunion only to soon regain the pounds they suffered to shed, plus some.
May 6th is International No Diet Day. Who would have thought a Registered Dietitian would encourage Americans to not follow a diet?! This day is an opportunity to encourage people to follow one of most RDs favorite words, moderation! That’s right. Moderation means there is no food you have to avoid. The goal is to focus on how much and how often you consume higher calorie and/or fat foods.
This May, focus on lifestyle changes rather than looking through the latest magazine for the new popular diet celebrities are advertising or trying. The plate method is a fairly simple and realistic way to balance meals without feeling deprived or confused all day. Instead of worrying about the number of grams, milligrams, or calories to consume at each meal, the plate method encourages individuals to have a wide variety of foods from each food group at each meal.
The USDA’s website has multiple interactive tools and printable materials to help you make healthier choices on a daily basis. The basics of the plate method include making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains (choosing whole grain products half of the time) and the remaining quarter a lean protein source with a low-fat dairy product on the side.
For example, a healthy plate lunch could consist of a kiwi, chicken stir-fry with 3oz grilled chicken, ½ cup brown rice, ½ cup cooked mixed vegetables in a low sodium sauce, and 8oz skim milk.
Portions tend to be one of America’s biggest problems. In today’s society, bigger is better. Unfortunately for our health, bigger portions are not the best. Try to use smaller plates, bowls, and cups. This will help you follow recommended portion sizes without feeling robbed. Also, using measuring cups to portion out your serving sizes can help prevent mindlessly eating larger than needed portions.
Try to remember there are no “bad foods”. You do not need to feel guilty for eating a high fat/calorie meal or snack, but make a conscious effort to make a healthier choice at the next meal. For example, if you know you are going to have a cheeseburger at your Memorial Day cookout, try to leave off the mayo, add extra lettuce, tomato, and onion, and choose a whole wheat bun. Or if you ate ribs for dinner, try to skip dessert or choose a piece of fruit versus a piece of cake. Eating healthy is about moderation and making compromises. Overall, try to focus on which food is healthier and go with that option a majority of the time. But remember we are all human…I have yet to meet a Registered Dietitian that doesn’t love a piece of chocolate every now and then.