Your Best Diet For 2016 Isn’t A Diet
Sadly, the fun and games are coming to an end. No more Christmas cookies – donuts in my case – hot chocolate, and every other glutinous food that comes with the holiday season. You know it and everyone else knows it, it’s time to get serious about your “new” diet in 2016… because that’s what people do this time of year.
I wish I had the time (and the desire) to look up how much money is spent on supplements, diets, and workout programs this time of year. It’s a billion dollar industry to begin with so we can assume that it’s a rather large number. Hopefully after reading this post today you won’t feel so inclined to join those statistics but rather save your money and spend what little of it you’ll need to spend wisely – here’s your new diet for 2016 and it all starts in your kitchen.
The Problem With Your Kitchen
Unless you’re a member of my family, I don’t know what inside your kitchen. But, I think it’s safe to say that for most of you it’s not much. That’s a problem. My kitchen is my sanctuary. It’s the source for everything good all day, everyday. When my kitchen is empty I’m in a bad mood. I’m easily irritable and often make bad decisions. It may sound a bit drastic but my wife would tell you, it’s the truth.
All your success and failure (at least nutritionally – but I’d argue even more than that) starts and ends with your kitchen. Your kitchen can tell me how much you plan and prepare for you week. It can tell me a lot about your habits and how successful you’re likely to be no matter what diet you choose to follow. For the record my “diet” is a lifestyle – I know… it’s so cliché to say that, but it’s a fact.
For example, here’s a common situation I guarantee most people face at least a few times a week if not everyday: You come home from work starving (because you had a wack lunch roughly 5 hours ago) and rummage through the cabinets and fridge. You have nothing in terms of an actual meal, so you start snacking on whatever is easiest and most ready to eat, likely something prepackaged such as chips, crackers, or something frozen you can pop in the microwave – I used to be a hot pockets guy myself.
Unfortunately for you, you lost before you even got home.
No planning = poor decision-making, and poor decision-making = no consistency or routine. This is NOT a recipe you want to follow ever, especially if you’re looking to lose some weight in the New Year.
To break it down; when you don’t plan you’re left firing at the hip for food when it matters most – when you’re starving and need something 2 hours ago. At this point your blood sugar has already dropped and your body/brain is craving something, anything, to pick it back up. Once you reach this state you are doomed. Inevitably you make a poor decision and tell yourself “you’ll make up for it tomorrow.” Maybe if you’re lucky you will, but you likely won’t. This is your “routine.” This is your “diet” – sounds awful doesn’t it? Here’s how you can make sure this current situation doesn’t become a bad of your daily routine.
In order to be successful you need to start planning ahead of time. An easy trick would be to take out everything in your kitchen you know is unhealthy for you – everything! At some point you’re going to be out of food in which case you will eventually eat whatever it is that’s in your house. An easy way to prevent you from making poor decisions is to never have as an option in the first place. When shopping at the grocery store follow these tips:
- Shop on the perimeter of the store
- Purchase foods that require you to box or bag them yourself
- Stay out of the middle aisles
Most grocery stores are all the same in the fact that the outer perimeter of the store is where all the dairy, produce, nuts, grains, and meats are. This is essentially all you need to purchase.
The inner aisles are where you’ll find your pre-packaged goods. Your crackers, chips, packaged “meals” canned goods – essentially all the things you should avoid. Sure there are few things you might need in these aisles such as spices and maybe some frozen fruits or vegetables, but overall the rest can be avoided like the plague.
To give you an idea of what I shop for, here’s what’s in my cart every week (and in our fridge… you never know when you might want a shot of patron):
- Bell Peppers
- Baby Carrots
- Serrano Peppers
- Red Onion
- Chicken breast
- Grass fed meat
- Grass fed ground bison
- Fish – whatever is healthiest and on sale
- 3 pints organic whole fat yogurt
- 2-dozen pasture raised eggs
- 2-gallons organic grass-fed whole fat milk
- Aged cheese
- Frozen berries – for smoothies
- Frozen Ezekiel bread/English muffins – sprouted grain only
- Hummus made with olive oil
Ignore the fact that this might seem like a lot of food (granted this is for two people – and I eat a lot of food) but this is more or less what your grocery list should look like every week.
You’ve conquered one step in that you now have a house full of healthy choices. However once you get home you’re likely to look at your cabinets and realize you now have a lot of food but “nothing to eat” – that is nothing that’s ready to eat right now.
Preparation is often where people succeed and lack thereof is where people fail. It’s up to you to prepare your food so that when you come home from work you have some readily available foods to eat – healthy food. Here’s what you can do…
- Cook most all the protein – I usually throw some in the freezer and take it out middle of the week to cook – Our weekly ritual includes baking chicken and throwing 3lbs. of grass-fed beef stew meat in the slow cooker with peppers and onions, fajita style.
- Cut all your vegetables – this makes throwing them together in a meal super easy – try to not cook your vegetables right away, save them raw prior to eating
- Cook your starchy carbs – this might be sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
This sounds like a lot of work, and honestly it kind of is – initially. But the fact of the matter is when you follow these steps you’re going to succeed, it’s just that simple. Ask any fitness professional (who has a body you’d like to have) and they’ll tell you close to, if not the same, advice I’ve laid out here for you.
It does take a good amount of time. My wife and I usually go Sunday morning and I’ll prepare foods Sunday afternoon. Admittedly I often times don’t like doing it but I know if I don’t I’m all but guaranteeing my week sucks come Monday morning – and it’s much worse to do this all in the middle of the week. If your day off falls on a weekday, then you can do all of this then. Make it as simple as you can so that you’re sure to succeed.
Home and On The Go
I know most of you won’t do this last step (for the sake of being that geeky guy/gal who packs a lunch to work) but just know that it’s sitting there waiting for you if you choose to do so. You’ve done all the hard work now all you need to do is prepackage your meals to bring to work with you.
This is really gets into more than this article covers regarding meal planning but just know that you have the resources available to you now to make sure that you don’t come home starving from work. Pack some meals and pack some snacks. Here are some good go-to snacks.
- Trail mix
Essentially anything that won’t go bad and that’s easy for you to prepare. Smoothies are the exception here, as you’ll obviously need a fridge to keep it fresh. My favorite go-to snacks are EPIC products. They have bars, bites, and trail mix that are all made from grass-fed meat and do a great job at curbing your hunger.
Most of you will read this and say to yourself “this isn’t a diet” or “I don’t have time for all this.” My simple answer to you then is, you’re not ready to commit to your goal.
Anything worth achieving requires work. If your goal means something to you then you’ll make the time to commit to your goal, which means taking your nutrition seriously. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or just get healthy – success starts in your kitchen and there’s no way around it.
Follow these steps week in and week out. After 2-3 weeks it’ll become a habit and your results will become obvious.