Columnist Noah Galloway explains why eating a balance of healthy foods and counting calories is better than any fad diet.

There are so many different diets out there; it can really make your head spin. Doctors and nutritionists are always trying to convince you of their new diet that has "amazing" results.

The nutrition industry has so much misinformation and poor research studies. I’ve heard a critique on just about every food. It’s overwhelming for people to try and learn so much when they are just trying to become healthy. Kale and broccoli are considered toxic, and this is one of the most bizarre examples I’ve heard. At this point, all we have left is gluten-free water. 

I think it’s too much to ask for people to be so familiar with nutrition. Why can’t we focus on a balanced diet rather than all these fad diets that people are rotating through? Where is the Netflix documentary on a balanced diet? We constantly question the legitimacy of these doctors who seem too biased when it comes to their research and identity. I think the best way to lose weight and have overall good health is a balanced diet of all food groups. 

I think the most important guideline to follow is counting calories. This may seem like a lot of work at first, but the certainty and removal of anxiety over the scale is worth the time it takes to measure food intake. MyFitnessPal makes it easy to add meals you’ve already eaten you don't have to spend too much time inputting meals. It’s the perfect encapsulation of the old adage "discipline equals freedom." It’s relaxing knowing exactly how much food you can have the rest of the day and not constantly feeling guilty. Health is about being good most of the time, and it’s fine to have junk food once a week as a reminder of why you are making these daily sacrifices.

Losing weight is all about calories in and calories out. 

Another rule of thumb is to find foods you like and avoid foods you love. Try and reset your mentality and remember that food is strictly fuel, and concentrate on eating to give you energy rather than the inevitable food coma. Look for foods that are high in volume and low in calories if you enjoy the process of eating and want to gorge on food.

Drinking plenty of water is another great option to give yourself a false sense of feeling full. Sparkling water works even better than regular water because the carbonation has a filling effect. Losing weight too fast can be another issue because the metabolism slows down, and losing weight too quickly can result in muscle loss.

Slow and steady is the best option, and it’s the most sustainable. 

One of the best ways to lose weight is to get plenty of sleep because we tend to reach for food when lethargic or tired, which plays into excessive eating. Getting enough protein is important because it’s quite filling, and digesting protein burns more calories than digesting fat and carbohydrates. One thing I avoid is drinking calories because it typically isn’t as filling as eating those same calories. Instead of drinking a protein shake, one could throw the powder in a blender and have a simple smoothie bowl. Don’t be afraid to try zero-calorie sweeteners at the beginning to start the process of shedding and maintaining weight. 

Getting back to finding a balance between all the various diets doctors and nutritionists are trying to sell us, I recommend doing a basic Google search of “healthiest foods in the world” and look at multiple websites, which will touch on the same foods. The more overlap a food has, the more you can be sure it’s good for you.

Include as many of these foods as possible, and you will be amazed at how good you feel. If you slip up and crush a cheeseburger, don’t be too hard on yourself. One bad meal a week is not going to destroy your overall health. 

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