Healthy eating has not always come easy to me. Not because I don’t understand it, but because there are just so many different options. How do I know what is best for me? And, if I’m being honest, I can lack willpower at times. Especially when it comes to food. There are so many “diets” out there, it’s hard to know which one will actually make me healthy. I’m not looking at it from a weight loss perspective, necessarily. That’s an obvious bonus. I just want to know what I can eat to ensure optimal health. A quick Google search revealed several diet plans for people to try. To me, this is a concern as I feel that dieting doesn’t automatically mean healthy eating.
For example, I know people who swear by the Atkin’s diet. Sure, you’re cutting out a lot of carbs, which is going to yield immediate results for you, but your body needs carbs. You can’t live off of meat and cheese alone. Which is what happens. Instead of focusing on building your meals around vegetables, people build it around meat. Or at least that’s what I’ve noticed. It’s also not sustainable. I know myself – there is only so long I can go without eating bread. It should also be pointed out, that bread is not necessarily the enemy. How much bread you eat can be problematic. But you need carbs to have a balanced diet. Choosing the right carbs, and limiting your intake is the difficult part. At least it is for me.
While I don’t want to go through every single diet plan out there and look at its pros and cons, I do want to emphasize the importance of choosing a plan that’s best for you. I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I’ve had it for years, and if I’m being honest, I don’t always follow the healthy eating guidelines for this condition. It’s very difficult to get into a healthy eating habit because it takes so much time to plan. You first have to understand what you can eat. And come to terms about not being able to eat certain things. With PCOS “they” suggest that you follow a low GI diet. What is a low GI diet exactly? Basically, eating foods that are slow to release the sugars. This is important for someone with PCOS because of the correlation to insulin resistance.
I’m not going to get into that too much, but it is a important factor for anyone not just those who suffer from PCOS. Eating foods with a lower GI rating makes you feel fuller for longer. Thus keeping your cravings for food at a minimum, and allowing you to eat less. Essentially what you’re doing is choosing healthy foods. I will warn you that even some of the foods on that chart can be deceiving. For example, a Snickers bar might have a low GI, but it doesn’t mean you should have two or three of those and call it a meal.
Some of the things on that list that I will need to reconsider include my Multi grain Cheerios, Cornflakes, Dates, an occasional bagel, and french fries. I don’t eat the last two very often, so maybe its not going to be as hard as I anticipate. I do like to eat bananas and they fall into the “medium” category. Balance is the key, in my opinion. Don’t eat only foods from the medium and high categories, but also be realistic in your choices.
One of the things that I need to do more of is plan my meals out in advance. If I don’t, I will make poor choices. My blood sugar levels drop and I go for whatever is available and fast. Often finding myself satisfied for the moment, but not feeling well after the fact. I found an article that helps to explain it better than I can. You essentially are looking at the sugar content in foods – even the natural sugars. That’s not to say you can’t eat the banana because its higher in natural sugar. It just means that you are likely to get hungry quickly if all you eat is the banana.
Incorporating low GI foods into your diet will help slow your digestion and make you feel less hungry throughout the day. You are less likely to want to eat as often. All positive, right? The challenge will be switching from the foods with a high GI value. I know that I struggle with this. Sometimes the immediate satisfaction is easier than the long term benefits. But you will get to a point where you no longer crave the french fries. I don’t quite as often. I still want to eat potato chips, but find that popcorn is a decent substitute. Find what works for you and start to incorporate it into your meal planning. Little by little you will start to feel better and see big changes.