It’s hard to avoid the word “diet” this time of year, glossing every magazine stand in neon yellow font, or uttered miserably with a deep sigh from the pouty mouths of your mother and best friend. After the holiday season splurge, feeling a little uncomfortable in your favorite jeans is par for the course. But constantly striving to simply “diet” has proven time and again to fail. Why don’t “diets” work? Because life – and the foods we have access to on a daily, livable basis – is not such an easy thing as to contain to a rigid formula.
Jennifer Hudson has a personal chef; you have a cafeteria and it’s somehow perpetually chicken patty day. Kylie Jenner has her favorite seaweed salad shipped from Japan on the regular (a wild assumption, likely true); you have some Cheetos from the vending machine and a squished banana in your backpack (fact.) Life is hard. Time is squishy. Choices are limited.
There is one, small and steadfast choice you can try to make, however: Instead of perpetuating the vicious cycle of restricting and splurging, counting calories, or only eating bacon and tacos, consider that the word “diet” should simply mean a general lifestyle of healthy foods you should strive to consume regularly – such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetable, whole wheat carbs, and generally as many unprocessed foods possible (when this isn’t an option, opt for foods with as few ingredients and additives available) and always leave yourself room for the occasional treat. Denying yourself any particular type of food will only leave you craving, crashing, over indulging, and feeling ashamed; essentially ruining the goal you set for yourself. So go ahead and don’t set yourself up to fail by placing an unhealthy, unrealistic standard on your body and needs.
This is a general philosophy for food intake, and the earlier in life you consider it, the more likely you are to adopt a life-long habit of clean, moderate and nutritional eating. The more physical you are due to sports, growth spurts (trust: you are spurting if you’re under 18), and running around during the day, naturally you should consume more calories. As for making those healthier choices when you’re on the go? Here are a few tips:
-Always keep a few low-to-un-processed foods in your backpack or locker, so you aren’t forced to make high-sugar/sodium/crap choices from vending machines and convenient stores (Nuts! literally, nuts).
-Make breakfast “a thing.” Don’t skip it or simply pound a donut or frozen Eggo waffle while running out the door – you’ll feel hungry all day if you do, and will be more likely to eat whatever catches your eye between third and fourth period. Consider breakfast to be your temple for which the rest of the day builds upon, in lesser increments.
-Invest in a stylish yoga-water bottle or Nalgene, and stay hydrated. We often mistake thirst for Cheetos cravings.
-Ditch the supermodel accounts for ‘thinsperation’ and instead follow healthy, clean-eating food accounts on Instagram. Your cravings might just start to include things like avocado toast and soft-boiled eggs. You can’t be Giselle, but you can be the best you ever.
-Check out this handy Buzzfeed article, 33 Healthy Eating Habits Lazy College Students Will Appreciate, because it’s way more fun than this blog post.