Does your diet make you happy? Are you unsure if what you are doing is wrong or how to make changes you need for healthy happy dieting ? I have never been a fan of diets that are so restrictive that I feel hungry all the time or worse yet angry as a result. When it comes to my mood and an ultra restrictive diet, my friends would refer to me as ‘Bitchy’… definitely the one word that comes up most frequently. Just ask anyone who has the pleasure of working or training with me during prep for a contest while on a restrictive diet. I can remember one time, someone decided to eat my lunch – my well portioned, weighed and prepared lunch based on my meal plan! Well nothing pisses me off more than going to the fridge, when you are so hungry it hurts only to find your lunch missing! So my first suggestion for happy dieting – get yourself a cooler bag. One you can keep by your side and readily available come mealtime, and if necessary, put a lock on it.
If you are really having difficulties sticking to your diet plan, you may want to re-evaluate what you are doing. If you are feeling extra cranky, and not a happy dieter, it could be that your meal plan is too low in calories, or even too low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates stimulate important feel good chemicals in our brains that keep us in a good mood, and provide us with energy to sustain blood glucose levels – avoiding the crash or lack lustre feeling you get from an ultra low carb diet. It should also be noted that our brains need carbs, they run on carbs, so when you cut them out or down too low, you can trigger not just a lull in mood but also memory fog! So before you do anything, make sure your dieting is giving you sufficient fuel to keep you in a ‘good’ mood and functioning at full capacity!
Here are eight happy dieting tips you can implement into your diet plan today, to keep you on the right track to dieting success.
#8 – Get Water on Your Side
Water is extremely important to maintaining great health, and getting a trimmer body. For one thing, water helps naturally suppress the appetite, regulate metabolism, while also stimulating muscle hypertrophy or growth when we are hydrated properly! Drink a minimum of 3 to 4 L of water each day. Be sure to fill up on water prior to workouts and after to ensure hydration. Water helps regulate metabolism, can help improve performance and endurance in the gym! When you are hydrated you can be sure your body is functioning at full capacity!
#7 – Add Flavour to Your Water
If plain water is not your thing, try substituting with sugar-free beverages, but avoid sweeteners. Sweeteners can have a similar effect in the body as sugar, spiking insulin levels when consumed. Instead try unsweetened brewed tea. Tea contains compounds known as catechins that are known to stimulate metabolism and increase your 24-hour energy expenditure, which is the amount of calories you burn while at rest. Stick to white and green tea which have been shown in research to have a positive effect on your metabolism. For extra zing add lemon or lime juice to your brewed tea or sparkling water.
#6 – Pick the Right Carbohydrates
Ensuring your diet contains the right mix of complex, fibre-rich carbohydrates will ensure you are maintaining energy levels and keeping hunger away. Complex carbohydrates take longer to be digested by the body than simple carbohydrates and can keep blood glucose levels sustained, avoiding crashes and the on-set of that hunger feeling. Try oatmeal, sweet potato, quinoa or brown rice. A diet that contains about 20 to 30% of your daily calories from carbohydrates is plenty to sustain a happy mood while being just enough to still burn off and tap into fat stores as fuel. What’s even better – use a carb cycling diet approach, which can up-regulate not just your hormones for fat burning, but also improve your mood too!
#5 – Get Pickled
Pickled foods like kim-chi (pickled ginger), pickled onions, or my fave pickled asparagus, are perfect for adding flavour without calories. It actually takes more energy to chew these snacks than what they’ll return to your body in the form of usable calories. Now anything pickled is full of salt – which can cause serious bloating and is generally not good for you at all, so be sure to limit your consumption of these babies.
#4 – Start with Salad
Begin any sit-down meal with salad! Roughage in salad is fibrous and can help keep your stomach feeling full. Be sure your salad is full of dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and swiss chard, along with fibrous veggies like broccoli and energizing veggies like cucumber. This little trick can help curb your appetite during the main course. And of course, avoid creamy, fatty dressings; opt for low fat, vinaigrette options.
#3 – Arm Yourself with Condiments
Dieting boredom can come from bland flavourless food! Try adding a sugar-free and low fat condiments to your food to make healthy foods taste interesting and flavourful. Try balsamic vinegar on your tuna; add salsa or hot sauce to your potato, mustard to your chicken, or soy sauce to your brown rice. Try new recipes to spice up your taste buds!
#2 – Be Naughty Once in a While
As your body becomes accustomed to being on a diet, your metabolism can actually start to slow down. The hunger hormone leptin starts to elevate, causing hunger to rise and metabolism to lower. A great way to prevent this is to intentionally schedule the occasional cheat meal that is higher in calories, carbs and fat then your usually meals. This shift can shock the system, forcing your metabolism to respond and causing your leptin levels to lower, while your insulin and metabolic hormones to up-regulate. This shift can help increase your metabolism, while also supporting muscle building. Be sure to choose something you truly enjoy!
#1 – Get Your Share of Good Fats
Remember not all fats are bad. Essential Fatty Acids are necessary for life-sustaining biological functions. Not to mention they are also highly satiating providing a whopping 9 Calories per Gram, and can help sustain blood sugar levels. Choose EFA rich sources such as nuts, seeds, flax, olive or sesame oil, avocados or cold-water fish.
So there you have it, those are 8 tips you can implement into your dieting plan that can help you stay focused and happy without feeling deprived or unsatisfied.
Please come back and let us know if any of those tips helped you stay on track to your dream figure!
Now if you’ve got your own tips or tricks you use to maintain dieting bliss that you would like to share, or want to let me know what tips from this blog you plan on using, I want to hear, tell me about it in the comments below. Until next time…
Be Fierce and Rule the World!