I will always stand by this one simple disclaimer: I, in no way, am a licensed anything regarding what I’m writing about. My degree is in Digital Media, NOT Sports Medicine or anything like that (although I hope to get some interviews with friends in the field soon).
That being said, you need to know that I don’t believe in the term “diet.” More often than not it means that you’re depriving yourself of something that you enjoy. From a mental standpoint, this is going to take a toll on you, making you crave that item and ultimately you end up falling off the wagon and break.
To make matters worse, you’re going to feel awful for doing it. This is not a way to go through life! It’s more about making the right decisions than it is about removal of something. Perfect example: at one point, I was able to wreck an entire large “House Special” pizza from my local Mellow Mushroom in one sitting. I’d feel awful afterwards, regardless of how good it tasted (and BOY did it taste good!).
Now, when I feel the need for pizza, I make my own with variations. For example, instead of a pre-made dough, I’ll find something like naan bread, a low-sodium tomato paste, fat-free cheese (or, if you think it tastes too much like rubber, 2% works just fine) and load up on good proteins (chicken or shrimp are absolutely money when I make one) and veggies. It controls portion size AND fills that satiety for something I enjoy.
Another thing that’s an inevitable is having to eat out with friends or family. The greatest advice I can give is to be “that guy” who asks for dressings on the side, no buttery marinades on grilled items (which a lot of restaurants do) and researching the menu of the place you’re going to (if
it’s a chain, this is very easy to find on their website). The more you research, the better you can avoid pitfalls.
A situation came up recently that’s a PERFECT example of this strategy: my best friend & I went to see Van Halen in Orlando a few weeks back (a killer show, by the way) and we decided to hit up the local Jimmy John’s. Now, I used to love the J.J. Gargantuan before I knew any better, but I had done my research a few times on different occasions and have created a new favorite, a Bootlegger Club “unwich” (wrapped in a leaf of lettuce). This fulfilled my need to fill up, but I was filled up with the right things and had no guilt.
The one thing I want you to take away from this post is simply that it’s not about deprivation. It’s about being smart with what you do. A website I highly recommend is the online version of “Eat This, Not That,” which can be found online via Men’s Health. There, you can find alternative things at pretty much every chain restaurant in the continental United States.
Once you do the research, you’ll feel a ton better without feeling like you have to be trapped in a bubble to eat healthy.
Next time, we’ll discuss nutrition on a more scientific level. This is a great place to start, though!