The sun shone brightly over the Easter weekend, barbeques were lit accordingly and for the first time in 2019, thoughts turned to the tyranny of the term ‘summer body’. But what a nonsense that is. And with the news recently of Beyonce’s extreme, unsafe fasting routine to get prepped and primed for Coachella, light has one again been cast on the lengths we’ll go to in search of the unattainable, ‘perfect’ physique. Whether that’s through low carb, 5:2, cabbage soup, or a keto diet, there really should only be one regime we follow; a healthy, balanced one. With that in mind, here are 6 IDEAL ways to stick to a healthy diet.

GOOD & BAD FOOD DOESN’T EXIST 

We need to cut out the guilt and shame surrounding food. If you want to stick to a healthy diet, then you’ve got to learn that there’s no such thing as good or bad foods, only bad diets. While it’s obvious that certain foods are healthier than others, labelling our food as such is a dangerous game. When we do so, we often restrict or completely deprive ourselves of bad foods, which in turn can lead to binge eating and disorders.

We’ve also got to stop the all or nothing approach which goes hand in hand with labelling food. To stick to a healthy diet, make ‘everything in moderation’ your mantra. Basically, all that we can be truly sure of is best practice equals a balanced diet where nothing is done to excess. 

LEARN ABOUT NUTRITION

To sustain a healthy diet, it’s important to know something about the nutritional values of food. That said, there’s so much confusion over nutrition and time and time again the lines are redrawn about what may or not be healthy. At the start of the new millennium, for instance, the focus was all on calories, and not exceeding their arbitrary limits. But recent wisdom has adapted, suggesting that not all calories were created equal. Intelligence regarding fat has also shapeshifted, with science now recommending doing away with a daily ceiling being put on fat consumption, and instead focusing on replacing saturated fats with ‘healthy’ ones.

So even if the scientists can’t decide what’s good for you and how to eat healthily, how can you? Well, it’s important to get to grips with the nutritional value of what you’re putting in your tummy. As such you can make an informed decision about what you’re eating and balance your diet accordingly. Sites like the British Nutrition Foundation and the NHS’s Eat Well advice can help guide you.

INTUITIVE EATING

A wise man once said that the key to contentment is to sleep when you’re tired and eat when you’re hungry. And with all the configurations and complications of recent fad diets, doesn’t the simplicity of those sage words sound so liberating? So, rather than militant avoidance of foods deemed detrimental to your diet, instead, why not practice eating deliberately and attentively, noticing when you’re getting full and not overdoing it thereafter. By truly listening to your body and the signs it gives you day in and day out, you’ll develop a more beneficial relationship with it and the food you consume. Developing greater intuition will make dieting more cohesive, controllable and ultimately, providing that healthy diet you’re looking for. 

MINDFUL EATING

Ironic, isn’t it? A meal can be the most nourishing, fulfilling and fun part of the day, the part you’ve planned, looked forward to and prepared so enthusiastically. Yet it’s also one of the things which brings most guilt and discomfort. When that plate hits the table, we wolf it down as though eating’s an annoyance; an obstacle to our Twitter, telly or typing that we can’t wait to dispense with.

We’re doing it so wrong. By incorporating elements of mindfulness and meditation into our dinnertime, not only will we avoid digestion issues, but we’ll also enjoy a whole new appreciation of the pleasures of both food and of life. As such, we can develop a healthier relationship with food, and a more positive one. Once you have a more appreciative view of food and its benefits, sticking to a healthy diet can feel much more mangeable.

TAKE CONTROL IN THE KITCHEN

Fast food, ready meals and not knowing what’s in your food ….these are the real enemies of a healthy, balanced diet. When you lose touch with what’s in your dinner, then you leave yourself open to chemicals, preservatives and unnecessary added fats, salts and sugars, not to mention the fact that the deliciousness is dialled down several notches. Rather, do your best to take back control by cooking as much as you can (time, money and skill permitting, of course) yourself, in the process knowing exactly what’s going in your food and what’s not.

Take this a step further by cooking very much with the seasons in mind. Right now, spring vegetables are starting to taste their freshest and most vivid; what better excuse to incorporate more into your diet?  Again, remember moderation and balance is key and once in a while, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fast food.

BODY POSITIVE

We’re only here for a short time, and the only diets and health regimes to follow should be the ones you impose on yourself with self care and self love as the goal. Everyone is beautiful, special and unique. Don’t compare yourself to others, or worse, their heavily edited online versions. Instead, try to be the best version of yourself, defined by you and you alone, and it that means benching a diet that isn’t making you happy, then don’t feel any shame in doing so.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.