This is the Holy Grail of the fitness world. The thing that everyone is searching for. Every year diet companies spend millions on advertising their latest diet products and we, as consumers, spend billions chasing the quick fix solution to our dietary needs.
We are constantly bombarded in newspapers, magazines and on TV about the latest 'diet' that will help us to:-
• lose weight
• become healthier
• prevent us from getting some fatal disease • or all of the above
We are informed one day that it is a good idea to have a full English breakfast to start your day (as this will give you all the energy you need and prevent you from overeating the rest of the day) and, what feels like the very next day, we are told this will kill you quicker and you should, in fact, be having a bowl of cereal or a slice of toast.
If you are looking to lose weight there is a plethora of diets to choose from:- Slimmers World, Weight Watchers, Beach Body, Atkins, Special K, Baby Food, 5:2, Beverley Hills, Watermelon, Cabbage Soup and so on and so on. These all sell themselves as giving you results fast and a quick fix to your weight problems. This, however, is a one way ticket to the roller coaster that is yo- yo dieting and once you get on, it is notoriously difficult to get off! You also have the other type of diets that claim to be lifestyle choices Vegetarianism, Paleo, Veganism, Fruitarianism, Clean Eating, Pescetarian, Flexitarian are just a few examples. Most, if not all, of these encourage limiting the variety of food that you consume and, in some cases, such as vegetarianism, cut certain food groups from your diet completely.
So, what is the 'Perfect Diet'? Well, the perfect diet is to not to 'diet' at all. Instead, concentrate on building good eating habits. This can be done by following a few simple rules:-
Balance - Ensure your diet is balanced. When you trying to establish this, work on the basic principle of thirds. Every meal should be about 1/3 Carbohydrates, 1/3 Fats & 1/3 Protein.
Cut Out or Limit Processed & Convenience Foods - There is a multitude of reasons for doing this but the main one is that you can’t be absolutely sure what it is you are putting in your body. There are so many things placed in processed foods to either make them last longer, look more appetising, taste nicer, smell better, keep them moist when you put them in the microwave etc, etc. You are far better cooking yourself something from scratch than relying on this option for food.
Avoid Vegetable Fats - When cooking try to steer clear of any vegetable based fat. Instead cook with Coconut oil or any animal based fat such as Butter, Ghee, Duck Fat, Goose Fat, Beef Tallow, Lard to name a few. The reason for this is because, in a nutshell, fats transform when heated via a process called oxidation and form aldehydes and lipid peroxides, which are linked to increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Research has proven that vegetable based oils (sunflower, vegetable, soya, rapeseed) create more of these aldehydes than the above mentioned fats and oils by a significant amount.
Try to limit any grains - Don’t have too much bread, pasta, biscuits, cake or anything made from wheat flour. It is basically another form of sugar and we generally overload our bodies with it on a daily basis.
Consistency - Once you have started to form your new habits be consistent. It takes a while for your body to properly adjust to a new eating regime, so stick with it.
Enjoy your food - As I said at the top, it is about balance. There is nothing wrong with the occasional bar of chocolate or slice of cake if it is just that, OCCASIONAL! Too often and you’re upsetting the balance of your body.
Last, but by no means least . . . .
Let your eating reflect how you live, don’t live to reflect what you eat! - If you are a very active person, who is constantly on the go in their work and home life, does a fair amount of exercise and doesn’t sit around a lot for their job, then you can eat to reflect that. If you train quite hard weight lifting, then you will want to up your protein intake. If you are doing more cardio you need to fuel yourself with more carbohydrates. You may need to eat more often but slightly smaller meals. Conversely, if you are generally inactive and you decide to have a pizza, 1/2 a large bottle of coke and some chocolate fudge cake, deciding that you then have to go for a 10 mile run to ‘burn it off’ is not going to work. If you know you aren’t going to be very active then have your diet reflect that.
It's not exactly rocket science but it does take some work. Follow these rules though and you will be well on the way. At the end of the day it is well worth it. Just remember - Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels!