It’s estimated that 45 million Americans go on some type of diet each year. While people change their nutritional habits for different reasons, the most common cause of dieting is the desire to lose weight. So, it should come as no surprise that people spend $33 billion each year on weight-loss products.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose a few extra pounds. However, far too many of today’s popular diets focus solely on fast weight loss or cutting specific food groups out completely. The problem with many of these “fad” diets is that they aren’t sustainable, and can end up causing you to gain your weight back if you end up “slipping” at all.
Eating a well-balanced diet and getting in regular physical activity will always be the best way to lose weight healthily. However, if you’re planning on going on a diet, consider eating for wellness, not weight loss. When you approach your diet with your overall well-being in mind, you’re more likely to make long-term, sustainable choices that feel more like a change in your lifestyle, rather than a quick fix that will help you shed some pounds.
Plus, you’ll enjoy more benefits than just losing weight when you’re mindful of what you eat.
So, how can you put together a diet plan that emphasizes wellness and mental health above weight loss? Let’s look at a few small dietary changes that can make a big difference in how you feel.
Organic diets are nothing new. However, it’s important to understand the benefits of eating organic. When you’re at the store and you see an organic apple next to a non-organic apple, what’s the difference? Well, you might end up paying a bit more for organic produce, but there’s a reason for that.
Organic farming utilizes practices that cycle resources and promote an ecological balance. As a whole, organic farming helps to reduce public health risks. On a more personal level, some of the health benefits include:
- More nutrients
- More healthy fats
- More antioxidants
- Less exposure to nitrates and pesticides
Organic farming goes beyond produce. There are many organic ranchers, as well. Reducing your consumption of meat is a great way to help the planet, while improving your overall health, too. However, if you don’t want to cut meat out of your diet entirely, consider going organic – especially when it comes to red meat. Organic livestock has to be raised without genetic engineering and managed in a manner that conserves natural resources.
Your health benefits from organic meat because it contains more omega-3 fatty acids, more antioxidants, and less cholesterol.
So, while you might have to spend a few extra dollars for organic produce and meat, it’s an investment in your health and well-being.
Eat For Your Mind and Body
If you truly want to be more mindful about what you’re eating, eat for your mind.
Sound confusing? It doesn’t have to be. Your diet impacts your mental health more than you might realize. Foods that are high in sugar or heavily processed have been linked to increased levels of stress and depression. Processed foods can also have a negative impact on your energy levels, your overall mood, and your ability to concentrate.
While you don’t need to cut your favorite comfort foods out of your diet completely, it’s essential to know how they’re impacting you both mentally and physically. At the same time, educate yourself on which foods can benefit your mental health, as well as your body. Some of the best foods to incorporate into a healthy mental diet include:
- Complex carbohydrates
- Lean proteins
- Fatty acids
It’s also essential for your mental and physical health to stay hydrated. Far too often, people ignore how much water they’re drinking in a day when they’re on a diet. Staying hydrated is obviously important for your body. However, it also has calming properties and can make it easier to feel relaxed. It’s also essential for managing existing anxiety.
If you have trouble getting enough water throughout your day, consider setting a daily goal, keeping a water bottle with you at all times, and replacing other drinks with water.
Get the Nutrients You Need
You’ve likely heard the saying “you are what you eat,” and a lot of that has to do with the nutrients in your food. Ideally, the daily vitamins and minerals your mind and body need should come from your diet. Some of the best nutrient-rich foods include leafy greens, berries, nuts, and fish.
However, it’s not always easy to get the nutrients you need on a daily basis, since what you eat is bound to change.
While you should focus on a well-balanced diet each day, you can improve your physical and mental health with supplements and vitamins. Taking a multivitamin is a good place to start, but it’s even more beneficial to consider your specific needs when you’re thinking about which supplements to take.
For example, as you age, your body produces vital hormones in smaller amounts. That includes testosterone. Foods like fatty fish, eggs, and ginger can help to boost your testosterone levels and keep your body functioning properly.
You can also choose the right nutrients based on your environment. If you’re one of the millions of Americans currently working from home, you might spend most of your time indoors, not getting the vitamin D your body needs. A vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk of falls, fractures, and heart disease. While spending more time outside and eating foods high in vitamin D can help, you should also consider taking a supplement to boost your levels.
Your diet has a greater impact on your life than you might think. Staying physically healthy is important, and that includes maintaining a reasonable weight. However, when you drop the weight loss mentality and practice mindful eating instead, you’re more likely to experience the greater overall benefits of a healthy lifestyle and see how your diet can have a positive impact on your physical and mental well-being.