7 tried and true ways to eat well

Crazy crash diets just don't work. Here's how I committed to changing my eating habits — for good.

healthy dessert substitutions

Photo, Roberto Caruso. Food styling, Alexandra Tanner.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I had a complication that caused me to gain a massive amount of weight — 80 pounds. It was a lot to lose in addition to working and parenting two small kids. But after an intense journey through dozens of diets and fitness whims, I finally got it together and lost it all (and more!) — and I’ve kept it off for four years. I’ve already covered what I go through to stay fit and how to get around the most common exercise excuses, so now, I’m sharing how I made eating well a way of life.

1. Eat when you’re hungry: For me, it’s not so much about what I eat but when I eat. There are so many diets and “get fit fast” promises out there that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the dos and don’ts. But the truth is, every body has different needs — and these needs can change daily, or even during the course of one day. Some days you’ll be hungrier than others, so you should eat more or less, accordingly.

2. Stop eating when you’re satisfied: This one takes a little practice because who wants to stop eating something delicious? The key is not to let yourself get too hungry in the first place because that inevitably leads to stuffing your face. It’s normal to crave more right after you eat, so before reaching for dessert or seconds give your body a bit of time to register what’s gone down.

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3. Focus on what you can eat, not on what you can’t: So many people commit to eating broth for dinner or six gross smoothies a day. One major thing I’ve learned is that your food has to taste good if you’re in this for the long haul. What are some healthy foods that you love? Eat them! You’re less likely to pig out on the office doughnuts if you’re filling your body with good food you look forward to eating.

4. Lose the guilt: Say you indulged in those doughnuts or you ate beyond fullness — OK, you binged — don’t feel bad about it. Move on and wait until you’re hungry to eat your next meal. Use the experience as a message from your body that you’ve been letting yourself get too hungry before eating (did you skip a meal, huh?) or that you haven’t been eating enough good stuff, and change things up.

5. Be accountable: I often post photos of my healthy meals on Instagram or Twitter — sometimes I even Snapchat videos of myself cooking an entire dinner! You’ll find this inspires others and thus, inspires you to keep creating the good stuff.

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6. Eat with awareness — even if it’s in front of the TV: Ever wonder where all your chocolates went after your nightly Netflix session? What a shame to eat those decadent morsels without even tasting them. While classic intuitive- or mindful-eating pros tell you to do nothing but eat when you eat, I say it’s all good — just don’t ignore your food. Make the extra effort to pay attention.

7. A simple fruit salad can be decadent: Treat yourself every day and you’ll never feel deprived. Instead of grabbing an apple, for example, cut it into slices, sprinkle it with lime juice and some cinnamon and savour every delicious bite. As hard as it is for my colleagues to believe, those chips don’t interest me half as much as a nourishing bowl of spiced-up blueberries. You know where to get the best recipes, so make them!

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