Written by: Bettie Olson
Losing weight is on everyone’s mind. There are diets expounded all over the internet and social media. But doctor recommended or otherwise, they all miss one huge thing: your mental health. Dieting is hard and often stressful if you don’t meet your goals like New Year’s resolutions, and not paying attention to your moods and how you feel only makes it worse. Here are some tips to keep you happier while dieting.
Foods high in sugar have little nutritional value and increase the risk of diabetes and depression. Replace that Coke and other soda with unsweetened tea or flavored seltzer. Sodas can have as much as 16 grams of sugar, and while you may get a quick energy boost, the crash that follows is never pleasant. Soda also has high amounts of caffeine that can increase anxiety, so drinking water instead will help you feel more at ease. Try to drink around two liters of water a day. In addition to keeping your kidneys healthy, staying hydrated can improve concentration and prevent feelings of fatigue.
Have you ever been in such a hurry that you wolf down a drive through meal in the car while driving? Not much fun is it. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND states that paying attention to where and how you eat can make a huge difference in your mood. Eat in an area where you can be comfortable. Enjoy the flavor and chew slowly and completely. Thorough chewing and eating slower will help you feel full faster. If you don’t have time to enjoy the meal, consider a quick healthy snack instead. Some nuts or a granola bar to stave off hunger pangs works great and will help you eat less when you do have time to sit down for a meal. Stock up on fruits and vegetables that you can eat on the go, or even eat for breakfast with yogurt. These foods don’t cause the spike in blood sugar that causes a ‘sugar crash’ in an hour.
Try a Personalized Diet
Dieting doesn’t have to be about deprivation and calorie counting. Cutting back on red meat and replacing it with more plant-based options is always a good idea. Personalized diet plans based on what you like to eat and what you don’t make reducing the bad stuff easier. Anyone who has ever counted calories knows that dropping too many results in no energy and irritability. Starving yourself on a crash diet plan just doesn’t work, plus it’s not healthy, mentally or physically. The weight loss programs at WeightWatchers represent how real weight loss can be achieved without restrictions on eating what you like. Losing pounds is more a matter of not eating more of one type of food over another and maintaining a balanced diet that boosts mental health. Substituting more healthy foods for less healthier foods is the key, rather than counting calories. And even if you can’t do it perfectly, keep a log of what you eat.
Stay Away from Highly Processed Foods
Often highly processed foods are also more complex to break down and use and include an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. FDA regulations help, but there are still too many chemicals and contaminants (think hormones and microplastics) in these foods. New evidence also shows that these foods alter the microbiome in the gut, and scientists are finding that these gut bacteria affect metabolic homeostasis, mental health, and even immunity. Doctors and scientists are just scratching the surface of how the gut microbiome affects our quality of life, and what they are finding out is nothing short of amazing.
Dieting and losing weight isn’t a temporary change to get a desired result anymore. Changing your lifestyle is the key to long term health and happiness. The changes you make to eat healthier and improve your mental health through your diet will last a lifetime, and so will the satisfaction of success.