After reading that title, I know what you are probably thinking “No way, that’s not possible!”
I’m sure you heard the buzz word terms and all the new fad diets: IIFYM, flexible dieting, clean eating, paleo, low-carb, Atkins, whole 30, Mediterranean, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, etc. The list is endless. Regardless if you are looking to lose weight, maintain your weight, build muscle or another goal, I urge you to adopt a new way of thinking about food that will lead you to sustainability.
You know what money is, right? It’s really pretty simple – think of your daily food allowance like money, specifically you have a $100 budget for the day. You have $100 to spend on food for the day and higher calorie food cost more money while lower calorie-nutrient rich foods (i.e. veggies, protein, low GI carbs, etc), cost less money. The idea is that you should fill your day with the “less expensive” foods first, then work in treats when you can. You could blow $50 on a donut in the morning, but that will take some creativity the rest of the day to ensure you don’t go over your budget while still fueling your body with good food.
Similarly, you work and earn money and pay rent/mortgage, utilities, car payment, gas, food, clothes and luxuries (cable, cell phone, recreation, “stuff”, etc). Following a budget or basic money management principles states you should likely pay the necessities such as shelter and food first, then the left over money can be used for luxury items.
Thinking of your daily food intake like a money budget is an easy way to change your thinking without making drastic life changes. For example, if you know you are going to go out to dinner, choose less-calorie, higher protein items the rest of the day. If you know you want a donut, choose better items the rest of the day because a donut is worth more calories. Instead of eating a donut for breakfast, a panini sandwich for lunch then lasagna for dinner – all 3 carb and fat heavy items, choose 1 item to consume and higher protein items the rest of the day. Yes, this really is the idea and principle behind flexible dieting or IIFYM (if it fits your macros), but I think it’s helpful to relate it to money, something we all understand and use almost daily. Plus, lately it seems like flexible dieting is losing the idea that you still need to consume foods with micronutrients for health reasons. So if you want a donut or some other food that is less nutritious, plan to have that item, enjoy it then choose more nutritious, lower calorie foods the rest of the day and you will not pack on the pounds.