10 Tips for Sticking to the Total Body Diet for Life - dummies

10 Tips for Sticking to the Total Body Diet for Life

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Who doesn’t need inspiration while on the road to total body health and wellness? Recalibrating your Total Body Diet plan with the changing tides will help you maintain realistic expectations regardless of your stage in life. Here are ten tips for sticking to the Total Body Diet for years to come.

Taking it one day at a time

When you feel overwhelmed by the day or disheartened because your eating wasn’t in tip-top shape, take a moment and do the following:

  • Breathe in and out. In the practice of meditation, breathing is a way to calm the central nervous system, refocus your attention, and find gratitude in the moment.

  • Journal your feelings. Journaling is an effective way of grounding yourself, moving on with your behavior change, and re-evaluating your goals. Journaling can help you stick to your Total Body Diet plan by identifying your missteps, addressing what happened, and planning to respond differently in the future.

  • Take tea time. A cup of tea soothes the soul. Whether it’s hot or cold, sipping tea gives you a reprieve from the hassles of your day.

Relishing the small successes

Although bigger seems better in today’s world, it’s really the small stuff that matters. Ordering grilled chicken instead of fried, taking a ten-minute walk on your lunch break, tossing an apple in your work bag for a snack — all these small steps add up. And it’s not just about the calories you’re saving and burning; the action you take leads to a chain reaction of small successes that lead to healthy habits in the long run.

Relishing small successes requires being aware of the tiny seeds you’re sowing every day. Take five-minutes at the end of every day to jot down everything you did that day that contributed to your healthy eating and living goals. Small things like bringing your own lunch to work (and avoiding eating out) or walking to/from work or choosing fruit as a snack over candy add up to big results.

Visualizing your goal

Your Total Body Diet goals are unique to you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, fend off disease, or cook healthier meals for your family, putting a picture to your goal helps.

Here’s a quick visualization exercise:

  1. Get into a comfortable position in a quiet place.

  2. Clear your mind of the chatter of extra thoughts.

  3. Imagine achieving (or having) your desired goal.

  4. Think about how you’ll feel when you’ve attained your goal.

    This step is a key component of visualization!

When you have felt what it’s like to reach your goals, repeat this exercise over and over again.

Eating healthful food first

If you eat healthful foods first, you won’t have a lot of room in your stomach for more processed food products.

This tip is simple to say but hard to do. So how can you make this a habit when you’re bombarded with processed foods in just about every supermarket? Here are some strategies for making it through the grocery store with a cart full of healthful foods:

  • Stick to your grocery list.

  • Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.

  • Read food labels.

  • Don’t fall for sales.

Bouncing back from a bump in the road

Bumps are part of every journey, including the Total Body Diet one. The problem comes in when a bump — a night out where overeating ensues, indulging in cookies at work, or stopping for fast food because you didn’t plan ahead — throws you off track.

How do you keep yourself from spiraling out of control when things don’t go the way you hoped? First, forgive yourself — treat yourself with the same kindness you would show your best friend. Second, remember that the practice of healthy eating is just that: a continual practice that isn’t perfect. The sooner you get back on the journey of healthy eating, the sooner you’ll feel better.

No food is off limits unless it’s a trigger (a food that sets off overindulgent behavior). If you struggle with this concept, talk to a registered dietitian and/or clinical psychologist who specializes in disordered eating.

Being open to new foods

The Total Body Diet is not a rigid food plan. In fact, it’s just the opposite — it encourages you to eat an array of healthy foods from vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, and dairy products, plus healthful fats. To get enough variety in your diet, you may have to try new foods from each of these groups.

Before you know it, as your incorporate new, healthy foods, you’ll start to crave these foods that you wouldn’t have dreamed of eating before — and you’ll find it easier to stick to the Total Body Diet.

Making sure your hormones don’t rule your life

The more aware you are of how your hormonal changes affect you, the better. For example, if you know that you crave sweets at a certain time of the month, prepare for it — allow yourself a chocolate treat or pastry from your favorite bakery and then be done.

Hormones like cortisol, which your adrenal glands release when your stress levels flair up, may affect your eating behaviors, mood, and weight.

How can you fend off cravings and weight gain, whether they’re caused by sex hormones or stress hormones? Eat balanced meals, with no skipping or skimping. Try to include a healthy protein and fat source with every meal and snack. For example, for breakfast have a piece of whole-grain toast with nut butter and a piece of fruit; for lunch, try a wrap with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and a lean protein, such as tuna.

Physical activity is a natural hormone regulator. Moving your body not only improves your mood, but also regulates eating, suppresses cravings, and helps keep weight in check, which in turn helps regulate insulin levels and staves off type-2 diabetes.

Understanding your aging body

The good news is that older adults are healthier today than ever before, but the risk of diseases and other conditions increases as you get older. Although the process of aging is still not fully clear, one thing is: Your genes, environment, and lifestyle play a big role in how you age. But you can affect change in these areas. What you eat can affect change in your genetic code!

A relatively new area of study called nutritional genomics is the study of diet-genome interactions as they relate to chronic disease. It’s personalized nutrition at its best!

To keep your cells healthy longer, eat antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and carotenoids) defend cells against the oxidative damage of scavengers called free radicals.

Which foods are rich in antioxidants? Colorful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and eggs. (Egg yolks are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that deposit in the retina of the eye and help fend off age-related macular degeneration!)

Plant chemicals like resveratrol in the skin of grapes have been shown to be beneficial in fending off vascular inflammation, decreasing the rate of cardiovascular aging. Through a complex process, resveratrol activates cardiac and vascular cellular antioxidant enzymes, which helps lessen damage from free radicals, protecting the heart muscle cells from aging.

Keep your cell hydrated with water. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces every day (for example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should try to get 100 ounces of water a day).

Get physical activity daily — the more you move, the less function you’ll lose in your muscles, joints, and ligaments. And you retain your flexibility, too!

Eating well for baby and you

Eating well is vital during pregnancy. Here are some ways to ensure you get adequate nutrition during pregnancy:

  • Eat enough calories, but don’t go overboard. Factor in an extra 340 calories per day during your second trimester and an extra 452 calories per day during your third trimester. That’s not a lot.

  • Get a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups. Planning balanced meals and snacks is important when you’re pregnant. Get colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins (from plant and animal sources), as well as lowfat dairy products every day.

    Watch out for fish — steer clear of the large fish: shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. Plus, due to its mercury content, limit white albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week.

  • Get regular, moderate physical activity. During pregnancy, exercise helps keep blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight gain in a healthy range. Physical activity also keeps muscles and ligaments limber to prepare you for a smooth labor and delivery!

Saying no when you need to

Social connection is a healthy part of life, bringing happiness and fostering well-being. So, it makes sense that the Total Body Diet approach advocates a healthy social life. However, if your family, friends, or co-workers are causing you to overeat (or drink too much alcohol) or miss your workouts, it’s time to reevaluate.

If you’re declining too many social events or isolating yourself frequently, that’s not healthy, either. Finding the right balance between social and alone time is important for your self-esteem and overall well-being. Just knowing you have a choice is empowering!

How about making your healthy lifestyle a part of your social life? Meet a friend for a brisk walk or join an exercise class together. The Total Body Diet plan works best when it’s part of your life!