There are so many ways to diet, so many plans, detoxification menus, pros to one way of eating, cons to others, articles on foolproof ways of dropping pounds…it is enough to make a person shut off their computer and grab a bag of Doritos.
One diet plan allows you to eat fried chicken, candy bars, Coca-Cola, etc., as long as you only eat a little bit of it every three hours. Or try the Atkins Diet, which has you eating protein and giving up flour and sugar. There is the Blood Type Diet, the Cabbage Soup diet, the Skinny Bitch Diet, or the Caveman Diet. You can use the Fat Flush Plan to cleanse your liver. You can spend time measuring your Glycemic Index, eat grapefruit with every meal, ditch your aluminum pans, regulate what you eat based on your hormones, purchase prepackaged meals, find your yin-yang balance with regards to food intake, spend days removing toxins, pair your food better to maximize your digestive system, restrict your calories, drink olive oil and sugar water, go completely vegan, replace the bad carbs with good carbs, increase your fiber intake, keep track of points per item eaten, eat to make changes in your insulin production…have you stopped reading this paragraph yet?
Don’t get me wrong, some of these plans are based on solid foundations. There is nothing wrong with a vegan diet, nor is there anything amiss with the idea of ditching the bad carbs from your daily intake. However, the best diet for you is much, much simpler than any of this craziness.
Eat right and exercise. Everything in moderation.
That’s it. Wondering how to measure something like that? Well…how are you feeling? If you feel kind of low energy and blah, take a look at what you ate yesterday. Did you exercise at all? How did you sleep? And from that point, make the decision to do a better job today.
There is no magic spell that is going to take care of this so you can drop 15 pounds before swimsuit season, no matter what the magazine cover in the line at the grocery store tells you. It’s you and you alone, self-discipline and determination. Here’s the simple plan, broken down.
Eat right. I will be more specific for you. Don’t eat so much sugar. As a general rule, white flour isn’t good for you. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Stop eating out so much. Carve out the time in your life (not just your day…your life) to eat clean. Use whole foods. In my kitchen we have the one ingredient rule. If the recipe asks for kidney beans and you don’t feel like soaking dry beans in a pot for a day, be sure that the label on the can includes some basic things. Kidney beans. Sea salt. Water. That’s about it. If you see things like sugar, calcium chloride, or disodium EDTA…run away! Put it back on the shelf and keep looking. That sums up the one ingredient rule. If you need a tomato, then add a tomato. Don’t add a can of tomatoes with a whole bunch of preservatives and additives. Got the idea? You don’t need any special recipe book. You need to look in the books you already own and make what’s in there. Use whole foods, cut out the stuff that’s nasty for you.
Exercise. You don’t have to train for a marathon. Not even a 5K. I mean, you can if you want, and they are great fun. But you don’t have to join a gym or brave the driving snow for a daily workout. You don’t even really need equipment. Walk more instead of driving everywhere. Ride your bike. Get your heart rate up for a little while, and try to do that a couple times a day. There are some basic Total Body exercises you should discipline yourself to do every day. And every once in a while…skip them for a day. Not often, but a day off is no big deal. Build 1/2 hour into your morning for push ups, squats, lunges, and burpees. When you take a deeper look into each of those, you’ll find a huge number of variations: wall push ups, lunge jumps (which I think may cause me to keel over soon), sumo squats…there are so many. Find the ones you love (or the ones you love to hate) and make time for them every day.
Everything in moderation. So you like to have a Coke every now and then? Have one. Just don’t have seven. I like to go with the 95% rule. If 95% of what I eat each day is healthy, I can be okay with a snack bag of Cheetos every once in a while. The reality you’ll find, though, is that you will lose your taste for that stuff as time passes by. Feel good running one mile? Don’t go nuts and try out a half marathon without training for it. Feeling overwhelmed with the number of things to get through every single day? Cut some of them out. (And don’t say “I can’t.” Yes, you can.) I would advise against cutting “work” out of your day, though I know many of you would like to. If you do feel like cutting it out of each day…I would suggest finding something you love in order to spend each day enjoying this beautiful life.
A friend of mine shared this recipe with me this morning, and I thought I would pass it along (even before I try it…I trust her that much) so that you can test your family with a healthy meal sometime this week:
Sweet Potato Skin Fajitas
2 sweet potatoes
½ red bell pepper, sliced
½ yellow bell pepper, sliced
½ green bell pepper, sliced
½ onion, sliced
1 chicken breast
3 tablespoons mozzarella cheese, divided
For the fajita seasoning:
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
(makes 4 super filling “fajitas”)
1. Preheat oven to 400˚
2. Using a fork, poke holes down one side of each sweet potato. Microwave for 3-5 minutes, or until softened. Let sweet potatoes cool before handling.
3. Next, cut the sweet potatoes in half and carve out the centers, leaving a small rim around the outside of each sweet potato.
4. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Add the bell peppers and onion to the other side of the baking sheet. Drizzle in olive oil.
5. Next, mix the fajita seasoning ingredients together. Season the sweet potatoes and veggies.
6. Add chicken breast on top of the veggies, drizzle in olive oil and add additional seasoning.
7. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until chicken reaches 165˚F/75˚C. Let cool for a few minutes.
8. Shred the chicken with 2 forks and mix together with the veggies. Fill up the sweet potatoes and top with mozzarella cheese.
9. Bake for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.
10. Garnish with your favorite toppings (we used guacamole and cilantro…because it just doesn’t get much better than that!).
Best wishes on your journey. Keep it simple.