As I am evolving as a Nutrition Coach by dealing with new clients almost every week, I am learning a lot simultaneously. Their daily issues regarding taste, time, schedule, psychology, etc teach me a lot about human perspective when it comes to managing food, cooking food and then eating that food.
To understand more about you when it comes to ‘Dieting’ or eating food in a quantitative way, I put up a question on Twitter :
Apparently, this tweet got 15,000+ impressions and around 106 people replied with their own reason of not following a diet. I would have answered each one of them personally but that will be repetitive and kind of spam on everyone’s timeline. I sorted all the questions and now in this article, I will give you tips (answers) on ‘How to follow a diet”
First thing first, before you start following any diet and even just a mindful eating habit, you must calculate how much you really have to eat on a day to day basis. This is a non-negotiable step and this is not a time-consuming step. It will take a maximum of your 30-50min to understand things.
How? Just follow this link. BUT, come back to this post after you are done calculating your food intake. How to make a Diet Chart all by yourself
Done? Thanks for doing it. If not, there is a high possibility that you will be confused in the rest of this article.
– What is a diet exactly? Does it mean eating boiled stuff? Does it mean starving yourself? Does it mean quitting everything you love?
The answer is No! A diet does not mean you eat boiled salt/spice less stuff, a diet doesn’t mean you starve yourself to death and definitely, a diet doesn’t mean quitting everything you love to eat. Then what is a diet? Diet is eating as per your energy requirements, how much you burn daily and then accordingly you eat (if you want to gain, you eat more than you burn, if you want to lose weight, you eat less than your burn. Basic thermodynamics), you must have calculated above your calorie intake.
A diet is basically a mindful eating habit, in which you are mindful about your food intake. Whenever you are cooking or eating outside with friends, family or in any event like a wedding or a party, you are 24/7 mindful about what you are keeping in your mouth and why are you keeping that food in your mouth. You don’t hog food like a pig, and you ‘mostly, not always‘ avoid calorie-dense food (like a McDonald’s Burger or Chola Bhatura or Gulab Jamun).
Such habits don’t evolve in a day, it takes time, even when I coach people for their nutrition, I give them an extra 2 weeks to adjust to mindful eating habits. I totally understand that one cannot reduce and start avoiding the regular intake of food they love overnight. For example, if you drink 4 cups of tea daily with two spoons of sugar and I ask you to quit it from Monday, I know 80% of people won’t be able to. But in 2-3 weeks, starting from Monday, you can eventually reduce your intake, which is easier and a stress-free procedure. Hope you understood this much. Let’s jump to common issues of people for not following a diet (Read: Mindful eating)
Unable to control desires
Many people replied about a similar problem. “Control Nahi hota”, “Khana dekhte hi khane ka mann karta hai”, etc. This is the most common problem we have whenever we even think of ‘diet’. “I JUST CANNOT LEAVE FOOD!!!”. Wait!, who asked you to? Did you calculate your energy intake above? If yes, read on. Suppose you love tea, you just cannot quit your morning tea, then don’t. Just replace your regular milk with creamless milk and sugar with sugar-free (sugar-free is safe!). This way you will reduce your daily tea calorie, which was about 120-140kcal to around 20-30kcal.
“I CANNOT REDUCE CARBS FROM MY DIET” who asked you to? High carb low-fat diet gives the same result as Low carb High Fat diet. If you love eating rice, add it more in your diet, just reduce fat like ghee, butter, cheese etc from your diet and if you love eating ghee, cheese, milk, etc. add those more and reduce carbs from your diet just to balance your calorie intake. In fact, you can keep some days fat on the higher side and some days carbs on the higher side as per your preference. Just keep a track on your intake, which we call mindful eating.
You crave food because you think dieting is all about quitting the food you love. I eat Parle G in my diet, in fact, I sometimes eat ice cream as well. How? All these stuff got their ‘nutritional value’ written on the pack, read them and adjust accordingly.
What about protein intake? It is expensive and I cannot really buy a whey. I am a student, I am a housewife, etc.
The top protein food around us? Chicken, Mutton, Fish, Eggs, Soya chunks, Lentils, Pulses, Cheese, Paneer, Milk, Curd, etc. Technically one should eat at least 1.6g-2.2g/kg of their body weight protein daily. If you weigh around 70kg, You should include at least 110-112gm of protein daily. 100gm soya chunks, one of the cheapest source of protein, got around 52gm protein. Now tell me, how difficult it is to cover protein intake? If you are adding varieties like Milk, Soya, Eggs, Paneer in a daily diet, covering protein requirement is easy and cheap.
My mom cooks food in our house and she gets irritated when I ask her to cook as per my diet
Very obvious, Moms run a house like some industry, it is not easy for them and hence they get irritated when asked to cook extra or different from the regular daily household diet. But there is always a solution if you can put some extra effort. Just for one day, you will have to ask your mom to cook chapati made of 100gm wheat flour. Suppose it will come out to be around 4 chapatis, now you have an idea of 2 chapatis = 50gm wheat flour? Now as per your carb intake, ask mom to cook that much of chapati only. And one the same day, stand in the kitchen in see how much ghee she uses to cook vegetables, see how much 100gm uncooked rice becomes after cooking. But then what about protein intake? While coming back home, carry 200gm paneer, put some jaljeera over it and eat with your chapati. Or boil 100gm soya chunks, put some masala on it and eat with regular dinner. This way you won’t increase the workload of your mom as well and diet will also sustain.
I have to eat outside most of the time in parties, weddings, get-togethers, with friends.
Eating outside is fine, you don’t have to really stress over it. First advice would be to carry tiffin but then I understand how difficult it is to pack a tiffin, even I fail it at times. Then how do we do it? In the above solution, you must have come to know how much-uncooked rice looks after cooking, and how much 200gm paneer looks like? Same with 100gm chicken. Whenever you are outside, in a wedding or in a party or with friends, the top priority order should be chicken tikka or paneer tikka to cover your protein intake. After that add some rice and dal as per your assumption. If you are in a restaurant, you can always order egg/chicken biryani to cover protein, carbs and fat altogether. Ask the waiter to give you extra boiled eggs to add on protein. Ordering food at home? Order egg roll, they add 2 eggs, ask them to add one more. Again, mindful eating.
Eating outside, technically, is bad for you when you eat without thinking about what are you eating. If you are ordering biryani with a glass of lassi and some other sweets then it’s bad. If you are randomly picking up McD burger on the go without thinking of do you really need to eat that, you are doing it wrong. To control such things, you can always carry protein bars with you.
I stay in a Hostel/PG and can’t follow a diet.
Of course, you can. I already have an article on that: https://chiragbarjatya.com/2019/01/11/how-to-maintain-diet-in-india-when-you-are-broke-or-staying-in-a-hostel-or-have-no-idea-of-cooking/
I really don’t have time
You have time to eat food? Right? Then you have time to manage a diet. How? Do I have to tell you again about the assumptions of cooked rice and chapatis? What about protein intake? Buy a whey. Take 2-3 scoops on the go, not difficult at all. Whey is safe.
Dieting is expensive
No! It is not. Rice, Wheat, Potatoes, Soya Chunks, Eggs, Ghee, Milk and some Green Veggies. Are these expensive? I don’t think so. You make it expensive by adding unnecessary things like quinoa, brown rice, isolate protein, etc. There is no need to do all this. Calorie calculation is important than going ‘organic’ and ‘detox’.
I find comfort in food. Whenever I am depressed, food makes me happy. I eat a lot because I had a bad day at the office, I broke up recently, Life is all fucked up, etc.
This is the most interesting part where even I fail sometimes, who doesn’t feel momentarily happiness after eating that first bite of your favourite ice cream, that hot wada-pao or Kanda bhazzi on a rainy day, Hot Donuts, those peri-peri french fries, Cheesy loaded pizza, I should stop now.
See, we cannot be perfect all the time. Every one of us got some weakness. For some people its food, for some it is gaming and porn, for some, it is weed and alcohol. We fail when we let our weaknesses think that they are our strength. When you start justifying your weaknesses as your strength, it is a sign that you should address your weakness as soon as possible. It is fine if you had three scoops of ice cream today, but it is not fine to continue the same thing tomorrow thinking that chuck this diet and stuff. The important part is to bounce back to your normal mindful eating routine after you failed. You went out with friends and they forcefully sloshed you with 8 tequila shots, beer and what not? Fine, how long will you dwell? Time to come back on track on the very next day.
More tips to follow a mindful eating habit on the go:
- Always order protein-rich food with your regular favourite menu order. Two extra egg with egg biryani, a bowl of curd, or carry whey/protein bars with you.
- Do not hog on food, if you know you haven’t got any option but to eat a burger today in some event, then eat it, come back on track the next day.
- Stop this habit of adding small things, like biscuits with chai, chakhna with alcohol. These things add up many calories without making you feel ‘full’.
- If your friends and family are making it very difficult for you, time to sit with them and make them understand things with an empty emotion on your face.
- Please understand, we eat to live, not living to eat.
Still confused? – When to Hire a Nutrition Coach.
You can always DM me on Instagram/Twitter with your doubts. I try to reply asap.