As consumers, we are bombarded with health and fitness info daily on how to lose weight quick, bulk up quick, fix your illness quick, etc. These health campaigns and diets are known as fad diets. They are offering a product or program that implies fast results and instant gratification. The issue with quick fixes is that their results are quickly lost as soon as the program ends. A majority of fad dieters will end up gaining back the lost weight plus more after they stop the diet within a year’s time. This yo-yo effect can cause more damage than good to the body, throwing hormones out of whack and ultimately making it harder to lose the weight and keep it off for good.
The market is full of these fad diets, but the biggest diet in America currently is one most consumers don’t realize that they are on, the Standard American Diet (SAD).
The SAD is a diet consisting of large amounts of processed grains and sugars, trans fats, meat and dairy, and limited fruit and vegetable intake. SAD foods can lead to health issues such as inflammation in the body, cancer, cardiovascular disease, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and obesity. This diet is a contributing cause to the number one killer of both men and women in America, cardiovascular disease. Common SAD foods are high fructose corn syrup, processed meats, fried foods, sugary drinks, and prepackaged foods. Now, these foods in moderation can be harmless, but when they become staples in the diet, and are combined with low activity levels, they can be dangerous.
Whether you’re on a fad diet or a Standard American Diet here are five simple steps you can take to create healthy balance:
Be Aware: One of the biggest harms of eating unhealthy is ignorance. The first step to making a change is becoming aware of what you are putting in your body. Start reading labels when shopping. Check your foods for preservatives, chemicals, sugars, trans fats, and nutrient levels. If you are unsure what is in your food, look it up or buy a different product.
Limit Exposure: If your family is eating out four times a week, make an agreement to cut down to one or two. Instead of buying snack foods for the pantry at home, try stocking up on yogurts, cheeses, and fruits. These make easy grab and go snacks with minimal effort. Look for ways throughout the week to avoid heavy binges on SAD foods.
SOUL: Incorporate more SOUL (Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, and Local) foods in your diet. The goal is to work on eating more naturally. Whole and SOUL foods provide your body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which can help fight disease, reduce inflammation, balance digestion, and improve mood and clarity of mind.
Be Kind: Our mothers always said everything within moderation. If there is a certain food you crave then allow yourself some freedom with that food once a week or biweekly. Do not deny yourself that treat if it is ultimately making you unhappy and stressed. Set reasonable limits that you can feel good about.
Get Moving: No matter what type of foods you eat, movement is still a crucial factor of a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t take much. Just 30 minutes of movement or exercise each day can help you slim down, create healthy habits, de-stress, and prevent illness in the body.
With any diet, it is important to take slow, obtainable steps, consistently, to make lasting life changes. Try taking one step this week and notice the difference in how you feel. Whether you haven’t done any of these steps or have a few down already, you need only set an intention to create a healthier lifestyle. Just remember throughout the process to do number four and be kind. These are the only bodies we have, so love them dearly.
Kristen Sullivan is a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach who specializes in preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum nutrition services. She is a purveyor of eating from the earth and sourcing locally to create healthy and connected communities. Her business Bhakti Nutrition is based out of Lansing, Michigan.