Eating well, without going on a diet

Today marks the international No Diet Day, intended to celebrate the acceptance of the body as it is and its diversity, drawing attention to the dangers of following very strict diets and a perfect body model imposed daily by modern society.

However, it is commonly accepted that "eating poorly" can bring great harm to health: among the most serious are hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and the most common chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, and others.


The road to the right attitude

Experts in nutrition and eating disorders are now in agreement with what was common a few decades ago: crash diets and the constant weight-loss/fat-gain cycle can harm metabolism and health, preventing the achievement of proper weight. Today, science no longer finds any benefit in diets that are too restrictive - quite the opposite.

What is advocated is that acquiring healthy and consistent eating habits can help patients reduce weight variability, and lose weight more evenly, even at a slow pace.

Several Nutrition specialists defend that as we drastically lose weight, our metabolism changes so that we need fewer and fewer calories to continue losing weight. And neurological changes occur that can make us condition ourselves about "caloric foods", making us crave them even more.

Feeling guilty about our food choices leads us to choose even worse options, becoming a cyclical pattern. If we acquire good habits most of the time, there will be moments to eat higher-calorie foods. Restrictions that are too rigid are not sustainable over time.


A Healthy Relationship with Food

The most effective thing to do is to develop a healthy relationship with food, experts say. It is possible to lose weight without it being an obsessive task and enjoy the food that we like without cancelling our social life. We can live a satisfying life and be on a weight-loss journey: it is possible to balance the day-to-day with more conscious food choices and therefore be entitled to that “once a week” getaway.

To help your daily life, we leave you with some suggestions for a sustained lifestyle change, a change that you can integrate naturally, and without weight or guilt.

Follow these tips:

  • Eat a healthy diet: surround yourself with foods rich in fibre, fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. On the other hand, avoid salt;
  • Practice physical exercise: 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five times a week, helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. If you can't do anything else, walk and climb stairs from Monday to Friday: it prevents a sedentary lifestyle and helps maintain weight;
  • Maintain the proper weight: fat, and especially abdominal fat (considered the most dangerous), increases the risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes;
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol in excess: smoking inflicts damage on the entire circulatory system, and increases the risk of coronary heart disease, hardening of the arteries, blood clots, and aneurysms. Likewise, alcohol, in excess, is responsible for a host of diseases and damage to organs such as the liver. Drink in moderation;
  • Avoid sugar: the intake of refined sugars, which are found in abundance in soft drinks, desserts, and other sweets, lead to increased blood sugar levels and are harmful to our vital organs. Replace dessert sweets with fruit or jelly at most meals;
  • Prevent hypertension: Hypertension, a silent disease, increases the risk of heart failure, stroke, myocardial infarction, and kidney damage. Practice physical exercise and prevent excess weight, have a balanced diet, avoid red meats, sausages, and fatty cheeses, reduce salt intake and measure blood pressure regularly;
  • Control your cholesterol: although it is necessary for our body to perform several vital functions, it may also increase the risk of coronary heart disease when it is in excess in the blood. Avoid saturated fats, prefer white to red meat, control your weight, and exercise regularly;
  • Take your time: don't be in a hurry. Your body has become accustomed to the weight, so you don't want to get results in a few weeks;
  • Don't exclude foods from your diet. Make healthier choices and save a day to make a “blunder”, meaning, eat that food that you love, even though it is no longer healthy;
  • Control anxiety and stress with physical activity. With your mind busy, you don’t think about food so often;
  • Don't skip meals and eat on time: set meal times and pay attention to what you're eating, chewing slowly. Make small healthy snacks to prevent blood sugar from breaking down and feeling uncontrolled hunger;
  • Hydration is essential: drink between 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day and/or sugar-free tisanes;
  • Vary your diet: prepare colourful meals always accompanied by salads and assorted vegetables. Reinforce your vegetable intake;
  • Control your portions: do not serve yourself more than once. What you served yourself the first time is enough - eat slowly, and you will feel satisfied;
  • Eat healthy fat: prefer olive oil, nuts fat, avocado, and fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, or salmon, because healthy fat is important in nutrition;
  • Choose better ways of cooking: the way you cook makes all the difference, so you should prefer to bake, grill, low-fat roast, low-fat sauté and steam cooking. It is important to restrict fried foods (even at home) and sauces, especially the artificial ones;
  • Choose wholegrain or blended cereals: opt for bread, toast, cereal, rice, or pasta rich in fibre (wholegrain or blended), because they provide you with greater satiety and allow you to control your appetite.

Above all, don't add more anxiety to your life and believe that you can achieve a more balanced life and diet. Over time, you will see clear results, and you will feel better about yourself. There is nothing like making a consistent and conscious choice of your own, but… no pressure!