Alright, so you’ve tried the ice cream diet, the Atkins diet, South Beach, and of course, anything that promises to get you ready for bikini season.
Are you sick of it yet? Checking waist measurements and daily checks on the bathroom scale? The truth is that extreme diet techniques are really just fostering an unhealthy relationship with our bodies. It’s time to try something new: the long-life diet.
Okay, I’m no nutritionist, and I’m certainly not going to patent a book and turn my lifestyle into a brand. However, I do know this: beautiful=healthy! We always look our best when we’re treating our body right. And sometimes, this means cutting back a lot, especially on empty calories. Other times, it means adding essential things into our diet. Best of all, this is the kind of diet that’s going to give you results that you can straight-up measure in dollars and cents. It means a better quality of life, and longer to enjoy it in. Don’t wait until your body starts to rebel to treat it right. Read through these tips for the long-life diet and start making them a part of your life.
Drink Water, Not Sugar
A recent Gallup poll revealed that half of Americans drink soda every single day. And among people who drink soda, they average about two and a half glasses a day. And here’s the kicker: one single can of soda already exceeds the recommended limit of sugar per day. One can of soda has about 39 grams of sugar, while the recommended amount per day for a full-grown man is 37 grams. (It’s even less for children and women.)
More and more, scientific evidence is showing that there’s a strong link between sugar and the leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease and diabetes. So, start opting for water more often. It doesn’t have to be fancy; tap water is perfectly safe to drink in America. If you’re someone who doesn’t like the taste of plain water, get a good filter for your tap, and/or look into flavor drops that you can gradually wean yourself off of. You might even try out infused water, which can give you a refreshing taste of herbs or fruit without any added sugar.
Get a Variety of Produce
What’s the best thing you can eat in order to lower your risk of cancer? Once you’ve cut out cigarettes, and reduced the amount of alcohol you consume, the best thing you can do to resist cancer is eating more antioxidants. You don’t need to be going to town on goji berries to get antioxidants working for you. Antioxidants are in just about every fruit and vegetable, and different antioxidants have different roles in the body. So, in order to keep your body actively fighting disease effectively, you need to have a wide variety of nutrition. Don’t just fall back on one thing when you feel the need to be more healthy. Get a variety of fruits and vegetables. Try new things at the grocery store, and find creative ways to make smoothies, salads, and snacks made of fruits or veggies a part of your daily diet.
Extra bonus: getting lots of antioxidants is great for your hair and skin. In fact, probably the fastest change you’ll see in your appearance from the long-life diet is from antioxidants. Here’s a guide for more specifics.
Cook from Scratch
Alright, you’ve probably heard a lot about the raw food and/or paleo diets. It’s not necessary to make a complete lifestyle change and go completely raw in order to have great health. However, those paleo nuts are on to something: we’re healthier when we reduce the amount of processing that our food gets. Admittedly, some things are important, like grinding down wheat for our flour, or cooking potatoes so that they’re easier to digest. However, if your diet currently depends on pre-packaged meals, box mixes, or all those other shortcuts that grocery stores offer, then you should look for ways to move towards “fresh” and “homemade” more often. Pre-packaged foods are more processed. They’re full of preservatives, and extra salt, sugar, and fat in order to make them taste good for longer.
When you go fresh, you just don’t need those crutches… and you’re better off without them.
Don’t Eat More than You Need
It’s hard to keep track of what’s actually healthy, right? As soon as leading authorities decide that eggs are great for you, someone else starts bashing that egg, saying that it will definitely give you heart disease and ashy skin. Well, doing some research and trusting only peer-reviewed studies and vetted recommendations can give you more clarity. But in the meantime, there’s one thing that all studies of life expectancy agree on: higher calorie intake (beyond what it takes to sustain an individual) is correlated with lower life expectancy. Now, this might sound like I’m just saying “don’t be fat” but it’s not just that. People who consume a lot of calories and work them off by being really active can still carry a higher risk. In fact, it’s the leading theory for why women have a longer life expectancy than men: women tend to eat less calories!
In the Standard American Diet, most of us have access to more calories than we need, and we learn to depend on overeating just to feel normal. When you cut back to smaller portions daily, you learn that your body doesn’t actually need all that, unless you’re running a 10k every day. So, if you’re exceeding the recommended calories for your body type, start cutting back. Of course, you should be exercising for your health, and eating to support that exercise. So don’t cut calories at the expense of your energy in a workout.
But most of all, what we need to do is make the calories count. Yes, your body needs the calories and energy. Starving yourself isn’t going to do your health any favors at all. However, not all calories are created equal. You have 600 calories of a chocolate malt, or 600 calories of a good square meal.
Modern life doesn’t require us to move around very much. But if you want to be healthy and happy, you should do it anyway! Make a habit out of recreational walks, dancing, or physical projects at home. If nothing else, set a schedule for you to put your home treadmill to use more often.