“Diet” or “Lifestyle change”
The big controversy is always over the wording. Are you on a “diet”? Well, that seems to say that you’re following some kind of strict regiment that will make you lose 10lbs in 2 weeks (which is a lot) but then as soon as you stick one toe out of line you gain it all back AND THEN SOME.
I think it’s cheesy to call it a “lifestyle change” but literally, that is what I’ve been through. Sophomore year of high school I was anorexic and exercise bulimic. I was living on about 400-500 calories a day while participating in track which meant I had a 3 hour practice everyday. I don’t even know how I got through it on so little food. Eventually, I lost my will power and gained all of the weight back and then some. It has totally screwed with my 1. mind 2. metabolism and now it’s really hard for me to lose weight, even when I do it the healthy way.
I still have days when all I want is that feeling of emptiness. The moment when you’re so hungry it feels like there’s a black hole in your stomach; like it’s sucking everything into it and soon you’ll just have a hole there in the middle of your body. I wish sometimes that I could have that back, but then I think about the damage I was doing to myself.
I’m not saying that I disapprove of EDs because I’ve been there. I understand the reasons why people choose to lose weight in unhealthy ways and I also understand that sometimes they can’t choose to lose weight that way, it just happens. But I’ma let you do you, and I can do me. I still post thinspiration and I still look at itty bitty skinny girls and fantasize about the day I can look like them, it’s just that this time I’m going about it differently.
Since I’ve moved to Paris, I’ve started to notice the difference between the Parisian lifestyle and the American lifestyle. Food here is so much…healthier. There isn’t a McDonald’s on every corner, nor a Starbucks. Fast food really isn’t a thing here. Instead, there is more of an emphasis on eating fruit, veggies, good quality wheat bread, etc. And the effect of this is very simple: people here are skinnier. It’s amazing in fact. I have seen so very few overweight people. Living in this city is like having a living thinspiration tumblr everywhere I look, how great is that?
Obviously, we can’t have everyone pack up and move to Paris, but it’s very simple to follow the Parisian diet and I plan on continuing my eating habits that I’ve picked up here when I return to the States.
1. Add more veggies and fruits
I think I’ve been eating more fruits and veggies since I’ve gotten here than I ever did back home and that’s saying something. I’m pescatarian (I’m vegetarian but I eat fish) so I tend to eat a lot of salads anyway, but since I got to Paris, I’ve been eating at least twice as many veggies and fruits.
This is an easy habit to pick up. For an afternoon or evening snack grab an apple, a couple clementines, a nectarine, some frozen/fresh grapes, a banana. These fruits are all super healthy for you and can give you the pick-me-up you need in the afternoon without ruining your day or your calorie limit. You can also try frozen raspberries or blueberries as a dessert treat. I LOVE mixing raspberries in with low fat yogurt as a dessert!
As far as veggies go, try to aim for filling about half (or more!) of your plate with veggies. This works great for me. I buy bags upon bags of frozen veggies and heat up dozens of different combos for lunch and dinner. Frozen veggies may even be better than fresh veggies because often times the veggies are frozen shortly after being picked, thus the nutrients are locked in whereas fresh veggies may actually not be that fresh at all. Just think about how long it would take for veggies out in the middle of the US to get to the east or west coast. Not very fresh, huh?
2. Slow down!
Eating in restaurants and cafes here is totally different than the US style of dining. In Paris, the waiters actually leave you alone! Fact, they probably get a better wage since it’s not common to tip in Paris therefore they are not sucking up to get tips, but still…I’ve sat in a cafe for hours without being bothered by waiters asking how my meal is or giving me the stink eye and trying to get me to leave.
Eating slower allows your body to recognize when its sated. An easy way of incorporating this into your life is to put your fork/spoon down in between bites. Take a sip of water. Talk to a friend/parent/sibling. When you are actually eating your food, make sure you really concentrate on it, don’t just shovel it in to your mouth. Really taste what you’re eating and appreciate it.
3. Less factory = less fat
This is something that I am really loving about Paris. Before I came here, I ate a lot of crap that came in packaging and that contained a lot of ingredients that I either didn’t know, or couldn’t pronounce. Now that I’m eating more veggies and fruits, I’ve also started noticing that I’m eating fewer packaged “factory” foods and more natural foods. It’s true that eating foods that are closer to the earth is more healthy! You can google “clean eating” if you really want to join the movement or you can start by slowly eliminating packaged, processed foods from your diet.
I say “slowly eliminating” because if you do it in one fell swoop, you’re going to want those foods so badly that you’ll cave and binge and feel awful about it which will only continue the cycle of binging. I realized that once I got rid of package and processed foods because I recognized the health reasons behind it, it was much easier to get rid of them without missing them. If I tried to force them out of my life with thoughts like “this is BAD food”, “I CAN’T eat this”, etc. I only wanted that food even more. This happened with chocolate. I used to be so strict with chocolate but since I’ve been here I’ve pretty much stopped eating it. Why? Because 1. I could eat some of THE best chocolate in the world so I decided that if I really wanted to eat some, it wasn’t going to be some crummy bar of chocolate that I picked up in desperation at a grocery store. 2. Eating a lot of chocolate made me feel really sick. My stomach hurt, my conscience was taking a beating. I realized that it just wasn’t worth it anymore. It wasn’t doing anything good for my body, so why should I continue eating it?
After realizing that I was able to eliminate it from my diet, and soon I was getting rid of other processed foods too. Nutella was definitely a tough one to get rid of but I stopped buying it because I realized that it would never help me get to my goal AND because it had a load of stuff in the ingredients list that were no good for me. Now, if I want nutella, I have to pay for a crepe or something and since I’m pretty poor over here it is easy to say no. But on the off chance that I do get a crepe, I know that it’s not a big deal because it isn’t a habit.
4. Learn what hungry feels like, but don’t starve
It took me a long time to re-learn the difference between hungry and starving. I used to wait until I was absolutely famished before I would eat anything, thinking that that would keep me from gaining any weight. But now I eat when I’m hungry and I stop when I’m satisfied. I no longer wait until I’m starving and then eat until I’m stuffed. It’s a terrible practice to get into because it’s awful for your body.
It isn’t practical for me to eat 6 meals a day, so instead I just eat when I’m hungry. That could mean that I eat 3 times a day or that I eat 6 times a day, it doesn’t matter. I just make sure that I stay within my calorie limit and that I’m eating healthy, natural things.
Usually when I’m hungry and it isn’t breakfast, lunch or dinner time, I grab a piece of fruit or a low fat yogurt. I’ve been trying to stay away from eating too many carbs (as many vegetarians such as myself get into the bad habit of doing) so instead of eating a slice of bread or a handful of pretzels for snack I choose a piece of fruit instead.
5. EAT BREAKFAST!
I know you’ve heard this one before, but I promise you, it’s only because it’s true! Eating a healthy, fulfilling breakfast will put you on the right track to a great day.
Benefits of eating breakfast:
1. A better attention span, focus and productivity
2. Increases metabolic rate
3. Prevents binging later on
4. Reverses irritability and fatigue
5. Weight loss! - when you start the day out hungry, tired, and unfocused, you’re setting yourself up for trouble later on in the day!
I try to start my morning with a protein, a carb, and a fruit. Sometimes I get all three of those guys in there, other times it doesn’t happen. I don’t beat myself up about it, I just make a different choice the next time.
Breakfast usually consists of:
-Plain Original Oatmeal mixed with some peanut butter and fruit (the plain kind of oatmeal is better for you because there is less sugar than the packets of oatmeal. Just watch the serving size! It’s easy to go over board)
-Banana, apple, apricot, etc.
-Soy milk! (I’m lactose intolerant)
-Spinach; odd, yes. but delicious? absolutely. I’ve recently become obsessed with cooked spinach. I didn’t think I would like the texture, but I actually love it. It would be a great addition to a open-faced scrambled tofu sandwich! Just scrambled a some tofu, add spinach and other veggies and add a whole wheat piece of toast or english muffin et voila! (this would even make a great lunch or dinner!)
So there you go. A quick and totally opinionated version of the French diet. Have a plate of yummy veggies, take your time at the cafe and watch the weight fall away!