“Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym”
In case you’ve missed the memo, it’s SHRED SEASON. In order to get your body ready for the summer, you need to start NOW! Don’t worry – it’s still not too late to get started. I’ve been weight training for 2 years now and I can assure you that you cannot out train a bad diet! You don’t realize how disciplined you have to be to attain your body goals until you start working out – current status: failing! Even though I have improved my diet by incorporating protein in most of my meals, I have also added way too many simple carbs (e.g. rice and pasta) that are countering my efforts at the gym. This year, I’m focusing more on doing cardio 3x a week and eating less rice and pasta!
I’m well aware of the types of foods that I should be consuming and habits that I should be adopting to get that flat tummy. But of course, as many of us do, I don’t always practice what I preach. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to share two of my biggest struggles to making diet changes and the ways I [plan to] overcome these .
STRUGGLE #1 – THE GENERIC DIET
For the longest time – well before I even had a gym membership – I used to find myself trying to be “healthy” by following the generic diet tips (e.g. eat more salads). However, I always fell short in keeping this habit because these diet tips did not align with my culture. I come from India, and trying to eat salads that encompass raw vegetables isn’t exactly a norm in Indian cuisine. Growing up, my family had sliced cucumbers sprinkled with salt or red onions marinated in lemon juice as our version of salads. Of course now with all the advocacy around limiting oil and salt in foods from health organizations, many Indians (including my family) are progressively making changes to the foods they eat and way they cook.
TIP: MAKE THE BEST OF WHAT YOU GOT!
Instead of following the generic, non-cultural specific diet, I stuck to the cuisine that my family was more familiar with and started eating healthier foods in my own culture. We make a lot of curries using a variation of different vegetables and lentils. As you all may know, lentils (often referred to as “Dal” amongst Indians) are an amazing source of protein – which is exactly what I was looking for. I found that by sticking to familiar foods and making slight changes to the cooking process, it was much easier to stick to the diet than changing to foods I am not accustomed to.
Therefore, my advice is do some research and get familiar with your own cuisine. Look for foods in your own culture that fits your diet plan. My target diet was a high protein diet so I looked for food alternatives that were high in protein – I did not want to eat chicken every day. By sticking with culture-specific diet, you don’t have to worry about having a separate set of groceries from your family and could potentially get the whole family adjusting to a better diet!
STRUGGLE #2 – NEED FOR CARBS
Some of you may relate to this, but whenever I deprive myself of simple carbs, I end up craving more than I would consume in the first place. Although not the case for me, the most common carb cravings are for sweets – these are high in both carbs and fats – BEWARE!! For the literal-minded folks, I’m not referring to complex carbs that you get from eating veggies, I’m talking about simple carbs that you get from rice and pasta. This craving happens when I eat a combination of veggies and chicken/ fish for a couple of days; by the third day, I’ll eat two plates of rice/pasta alone to fulfill my urges. I also need the carbs because my body is accustomed to it – I find that when I only eat veggies, it leads to digestion problems (e.g. tummy aches, constipation, etc.). You might think that’s strange considering veggies (not all of course) are high in fibre. However, there’s a scientific reason behind this. Your body, or specifically your gut flora (aka bacteria) needs time to adjust to your new diet because different foods feed different species.
To provide a simplified explanation, if your diet is usually low in fibre, your gut is primarily made up of species A and B, with small colonies of C (which thrive on fibre). When you suddenly eat meals high in fibre, your gut doesn’t have enough of species C to help break it down. This will lead to temporary digestive issues, as the ones mentioned above.
TIP: INCLUDE DON’T ELIMINATE
To prevent myself from binging (which I’m still working on!), I try to include small portions of those simple carbs in my meals every day. This will help my gut flora in adjusting to the new diet so I don’t run into digestive problems. Additionally, I’ve also started taking probiotics to help maintain a healthy gut.
My advice is do not completely eliminate your favourite foods. Rather, eat them in moderation and try to slowly incorporate the healthier versions into your diet. This way, you will fulfill cravings as well as maintain and/or improve your digestive system.
NEED TIPS ON SHIFTING TO A HEALTHIER DIET WITHOUT MAKING DRASTIC CHANGES? READ: https://liftwithclass.com/2016/07/22/drama-free-diet-hacks/