Living Diet Free

Meredith Johnson, MS, RD, CD, CLC

Did you know that over 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail? I’m betting that many of you reading this article had set a resolution of going on a diet and losing weight, only to have already been sidelined and it is only late January!

Why not try something different this year? I urge you to consider a lifestyle change of eating healthier. Sure, fad diets seem to work for quick weight loss, but are often not reflective of long-term habits and can lead to post diet weight gain. Instead of a new diet, consider living diet-free.

What does diet free mean? Diet free can mean something different to everyone, but often means that instead of adopting a new-fangled restrictive diet, take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle and relationship with food. A healthy diet integrates a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products that pack vitamins, minerals, and more! Studies have shown that a balanced diet coupled with physical activity may promote long-term weight loss.

Eating a variety of whole grains, fruits, and veggies can provide vitamins and minerals, which are important for the immune system, gastrointestinal function, heart health, and may prevent certain cancers. A balanced diet includes a variety of whole grains such as 100% whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice vs. enriched grain counterparts that have the healthy bran displaced. Vegetables can jazz up soups, omelets, sandwiches, main or even side dishes. Fruits can be a colorful addition to oatmeal, smoothies, dessert, or even alone. Lean meats such as turkey, chicken, pork-loin, or 90% lean beef provide not only protein, but offers less calories, saturated and trans fats when compared to full-fat red meat versions. Plant sources of protein such as beans, lentils, legumes, tree nuts, and whole grains offer fiber, healthy fats, and less calories than meat counterparts.

Why go through the trouble of eating healthier in 2017? It’s important to visualize foods as fuel, similar to gas in a vehicle. If a cheaper gas is utilized, the car will not run as efficiently compared to premium gas. If cheap, fast, or easy food is consumed, the human body will not function as efficiently without adequate nutrition leaving symptoms of lethargy, slowed gastrointestinal emptying, and other uncomfortable side effects. Trying to eat healthier doesn’t have to mean changing every bad food habit overnight, which is often not a long-term change. Instead, consider finding ways to incorporate healthy alternatives into daily recipes such as a potluck, family dinner, or packing work lunch. Consider adding more fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products into a daily routine. Every small step counts and can lead to long-term lifestyle changes. It takes 90 days to create a habit, making the best time to start making healthy changes now!

Meredith Johnson, MS, RD, CD, CLC is a registered dietitian at Memorial Medical Center. To learn more about choosing the best foods for your diet, consider taking a free grocery store tour lead by one of our registered dietitians. Additional details can be found here.