health

"I was eight when I went on my first diet."

Nat talks about eating healthy and not resorting to horror fad diets.

I was eight when I went on my first diet.

I distinctly remember hating the rolls on my stomach that inevitably happened whenever I sat down. I wanted to get rid of them. And so I stopped eating bread, and stopped eating cake, and started pretending that I really loved lettuce.

Since then, I’ve spent years trying out different diets. I attempted the eight-hour diet (where you only eat between the hours of 11am and 7pm). I’ve been on a no-sugar diet. I’ve tried the Fast Diet. Also, there may or may not have been a day in high school where I dabbled with the water-in-chilli diet (where you add a chilli to water… and just drink that… all day… every day. It sucked.).

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Medibank. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

For far too many years, I was genuinely convinced that I would be happier if I just lost a couple of extra kilos. I would reach some kind of level of unprecedented self-enlightenment if my thighs were just that little bit skinnier. If my stomach looked just that little bit flatter when standing side-on.

“I was making myself absolutely miserable by putting myself through various stages of food deprivation.”

What I didn’t know was that I was making myself absolutely miserable by putting myself through various stages of food deprivation. Rather than thinking about changing my lifestyle to be a healthier one, I would simply tell myself that I would never again eat anything that was ‘unhealthy’ in my head. Read: anything but vegetables, a bit of meat and a bit of fruit.

Inevitably, I’d slip up. I’d go to the movies and eat a big bucket of popcorn and a choc-top and hate myself for it. I’d go along to Max Brenner with my friends and order the biggest thing on the menu and then feel guilty with every bite. It was ridiculous – and yet it kept happening.

It took me a long time to realise that there are barely any humans out there who are truly capable of sticking to a super-strict diet. Regardless of how determined you are to never eat a super-processed, super-sugary treat, slip-ups are inevitably going to happen. That almond Magnum after a really hard day. That piece of cake at a wedding.

The other thing? Life kind of sucks when you’re attempting to deprive yourself of just about everything that’s enjoyable. No-one wants to be that person sitting at that party with severe food envy, nibbling on a garden salad while everyone else enjoys a creamy pasta. Food is meant to be fuel, as well as a way of enjoying an experience with your nearest and dearest.

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I’m not saying that no-one should ever change their eating habits. Especially if those eating habits are being changed for medical reasons.

But if you do want to make your diet healthier, there’s a sensible way of doing it without resorting to ridiculous fads and total food deprivation.

Be aware of your portion sizes.

Here are my tips…

1.  Make caring about yourself a priority.

Think about what makes you happy. Think about what foods make you feel good about yourself. Think about how to switch it up so that you can be content, but still eat the things you love. Love peanut butter? Switch it up for the organic, natural stuff. Love chocolate cake? Look up healthier recipes for it.

2.  Watch your portion sizes.

Portions can quickly get out of control – particularly if you eat out very often, as restaurant portion sizes are often enough for several people.

3.  Stick to the fresh stuff as much as you can and move your body as often as possible.

It’s ALL about balance.

4.  Most of all – it’s all about balance.

Balance the foods you eat on a daily basis with the activities you do, and you’ll find yourself feeling energetic and lively as opposed to sluggish.

I’m the first to confess that I happily eat some foods without a real understanding of how many kilojoules they might contain. Exhibit A – your standard meat pie contains a casual 1803 kilojoules. That’s 430 calories. Which is almost a quarter of the average recommended daily intake for women. Eeeep.

When in doubt, I like to use a new app developed by Medibank. It’s called Energy Balancer and it’s both incredibly well-designed and helpful, in that it helps you make healthier eating decisions while also complementing your existing diet and exercise.

In other words: if you eat that meat pie, it’ll let you know that you’ll need to do 1 hour and 41 minutes worth of gardening to balance it out.

Hmmm. Sushi it is.

Medibank Generation Better is a movement to help Australians take achievable steps towards healthier, happier and better lives. It encourages everyone to share their steps via Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube using #GenBetter.

More information can be found at www.generationbetter.com.au

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