I want to start to diet, but I find it hard. I love food. What are some foods that I can start with? How do I stop eating sweets?

I am not a huge fan of the word “diet”. I find that “diets” are generally a set time period that someone is going to drastically change what they normally eat. Once that time period is done, most people go back to eating the way that they always have, and any weight lost is usually re-gained (and then some)! It is good that you are looking to improve how you eat. Maybe a better word is diet and lifestyle change? The best place to start is with produce. First I would like you to figure out approximately how many servings of fruits and veggies that you eat a day. Keep in mind that the American Cancer Society would recommend that you eat > 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. If you are only taking in 2 servings shoot to gradually increase this amount. Fruits and vegetables are relatively low in calories and high in fiber and nutrients. Those who consume more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk for various diseases and people tend to be thinner.

Now find areas in your diet that could use some improving. You mentioned that you have a sweet tooth? You don’t necessarily have to stop eating sweets all together but it is a good idea to begin to reduce the amount of cookies, candy, cake, pie, chocolate, sugar sweetened beverages, etc. that you consume. I recommend finding tasty alternatives to some of these items. For example, if you look forward to a bowl of ice cream in the evening, switch this to a bowl of Greek yogurt and top that with fresh berries! Skip the milkshake and have a fresh fruit smoothie or substitute a piece of apple pie with a baked apple topped with cinnamon. If you can diligently reduce your intake of sweets you will eventually notice that your cravings will subside.

The next step towards achieving a healthy diet, start to eat with a more mindful intent. Sit down at each meal and make sure you are focusing on how the food tastes, looks, smells. Become familiar with portion sizes and strive to consume only one or two servings of various foods. It may sound easy to do, but as a culture we typically eat larger portions than recommended and because of this, consume far too many calories which leads to weight gain. Aim to reduce your intake of highly processed foods (potato chips, pretzels, snack crackers) and strive to increase your intake of more wholesome, unprocessed foods (beans, fresh fruits/vegetables, lean meat, unsweetened dairy products, etc.) As I said, if you can begin moving to more of an unprocessed way of life, your taste buds will begin to appreciate the food you are eating and you will not crave some of the sweets or other highly processed foods that many of us consume.

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