Eating a healthy diet can be challenging to maintain. Here’s the personal journey that Paul Kita, the Food & Nutrition Editor at Men’s Health, went on to get to a healthy diet.
Eating a Healthy Diet: One Person’s Journey
Here’s how Paul Kita’s journey, in his own words, to a healthy diet. He say his sensible diet is boring, but it may be the healthiest way to eat:
• I’d always been a skinny guy, hovering around 145 pounds throughout high school and college. I ate and drank like crap back then, but my inferno of a metabolism quickly incinerated the Pringles BBQ chips, Yoo-hoo, and Keystone Lights I used to throw into my gullet.
• After college, though, my high-performance, fat-burning furnace began to sputter and required additional maintenance. At one point, people started telling me I had “filled out.”
• This was around the time when the Paleo diet was first unearthed, but for some reason I couldn’t find the appeal of living a life devoid of cheese, oatmeal, and peanut butter. Plus, didn’t the cavemen from that era lead short, dysentery-filled lives?
• Atkins was also a thing. So was The South Beach Diet. The Duchess of York was hawking Weight Watchers for some reason (money?). Yet everyone I knew on these “systems” seemed to like talking about their diet more than they actually liked being on the diet itself.
• I don’t think it’s a coincidence that at the heart of the word “diet” is the word “die,” which is what most trend diets make you want to do when you’re in the third week of not eating cheese, oatmeal, and peanut butter, despite your new pants size.
• And, at least what I could tell through observation, those diets only seemed to work in the short term. Maybe I should have been a weight-loss scientist, because a 2017 study reviewed the results of 25 weight loss programs and found that “commercial weight-loss programs frequently fail to produce modest but clinically meaningful weight loss with high rates of attrition suggesting that many consumers find dietary changes required by these programs unsustainable.”
Finally Eating a Healthy Diet
Here’s how Paul Kita finally started eating a healthy diet:
• First off, I decided to eat real food. I prioritized anything that had one ingredient: chicken, beef, salmon, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, peanuts, milk, lobster, eggs, butter, avocado, blueberries, and I think you get the point.
• I made no food evil. Trendy diets love demonizing entire food groups or nutrients.
• By telling people what they can’t have on a diet, I think that makes them want them more.
• So I eat cookies. I eat carbs. I even drink coffee.
• Lastly, I ate fruits and vegetables with every meal and cut back on booze and desserts. This is not hard.
• I try to shoot for 30 grams of protein at each meal, which I just eyeball (that’s about a palm-sized piece of chicken, fish, whatever) and a fiber-rich side (kale, whole grains, blah blah blah).
• And then I either choose to have a beer with or after dinner or a simple dessert, like a slice of pie or a piece of dark chocolate. If I’m not craving something sweet, I’ll have a cup of tea. Yeah. Tea.
Biggest Successes Eating a Healthy Diet
According to Paul Kita, these are some of his biggest successes.
• I’ve maintained a healthy weight of 155, give or take five pounds, ever since reaching a max of 170 post-college.
• I haven’t incurred any terminal diseases.
• I have boundless energy for my wife and kid.
• I’m happy.
• I like food.
• I don’t have to bore people or madden restaurant servers with an endless list of things I “can’t” eat.
• I don’t have to go to a health food store because those places smell weird.
• I don’t have to count points because that sounds terrible and I’m bad at math.
• I don’t have to feel guilty.
• And did I mention I like food?
Lifelong Lessons from a Healthy Diet
Eating should be enjoyable. Not temporarily enjoyable in the I-had-a-stressful-day-so-I’m-going-to-pound-this-five-dollar-hot-and-ready-Little-Ceasar-pizza-in-my-car-in-the-parking-lot enjoyable.
The best diet isn’t sexy. It doesn’t have celebrity endorsements. There’s no plan you have to buy into. Hell, it doesn’t even have a marketing strategy.
The best diet is one that is based on the inclusion of healthful foods—not the exclusion of food groups—and will last you far longer than the lifespan of whatever Atkins, Zone, Whole30, South Beach, low-fat, low-carb, Paleo, Mesozoic, Bulletproof, or keto plan is the hot new thing.
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