When you go searching for diet advice, you will probably land on pages of keto and paleo diet articles. No carbs, lots of meat, and lots of vegetables. While some of the principles may be healthy, most focus on short-term results, instead of long-term ones.
Life changing diets and results are based on simplicity. It’s the small changes that can easily be incorporated into your day that will keep you healthy and active for decades to come.
I’ve heard of many people who loose 20 or 30 pounds in the first couple months on the keto diet. They look great and feel great….until most of them gain it back in the following months. Maybe it’s a wedding celebration or party that gets them off track and “off the healthy bandwagon”. I don’t blame them. Who wants to live without carbs… even whole grains ones?
I always fall back on the sage advice, the slow and steady process of weight loss- and I find them in lifestyle and longevity books. For the past 10 years of my life, or so, I have been reading these books like a ravenous dieter who found out cookies have no calories.
I found one, and then found another and another. They have proven the most helpful and the anthesis of those keto and paleo diets that are restrictive and not long-term. These books are to be enjoyed in the manner they were written, with a cup of coffee or a tea, enjoying your life.
I hope they help you and make you feel a little more at peace with your new non-diet lifestyle. If you’re American, we can admit we need a little help with our relationship with food. It’s no wonder all of these perspectives come from far corners of the world.
3 books to jumpstart your healthy lifestyle:
1. French women don’t get fat by Mireille Guilianoand also, Women, work, and the art of savoir faire: business sense & sensibility
Guiliano is a French woman living in the New York and knows exactly what we’re doing wrong, starting with dieting. Her books are light and gentle and because of that, are very encouraging to making small changes in lifestyle. I owe a lot of my peace with food to her. She highlights a “toxic relationship with food” that many American women grow up with. She tries to bring back the joy of food into our lives with “joie de vivre”. I feel this book is less about food, and more about taking care of yourself- learning how to stop being a perfectionist and enjoying the journey along the way.
2. Japanese women don’t get old or fat: secrets of my mother’s Tokyo kitchen by Naomi Moriyama
Moriyama shares recipes, stories and some recipes on getting you to eat in a more Japanese way. At the basis of each meal is clear-broth soup with veggies, rice and a small portion of protein, and a piece of fruit.
I especially like her tips on Japanese breakfast. A typical breakfast would include egg, rice, broth, and veggies instead of a sugary cereal or granola.
The part I didn’t like is that many of the ingredients she used are soy-based, which is not always my favorite. Overall, the small portion sizes and focus on fresh fruits and vegetables are helpful tips.
3. The Blue Zones: Lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest by Dan Buettner
Blue zones are the places in the world where people live the longest. Not only do they live longer, but live better as centenarians (100 year olds) than many people much younger do in other parts of the world.
The book takes you through the four blue zones and shares interviews, stories, diets and other facts of the people who live there. The four blue zones are Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), and Costa Rica. They have since discovered another one in Greece.
Some of the tips that the successful book offers is to:
- Move naturally- walking and gardening were common activities of the centenarians
- Hara hachi bu – eat until you are 80% full and no more
- Plant slant – eating meat once a week and no more. Chicken, fish, and vegetables primarily make up their diets.
- Grapes of life – a glass of wine a day or Sake for Japanese may benefit your health
- Purpose now – having a sense of purpose is key in growing old. Something that motivates you to get up in the morning.
- Down shift – taking time to relax, meditate, or slow down will help you enjoy and appreciate life more
- Belong – being part of a community, religious groups or other organizations benefit health
- Loved ones first – prioritizing social life with friends and family is very important.
- Right tribe – people who share common goals and a healthy lifestyle encourage you to live healthy too.
The biggest thing I know I have to work on is being out in nature more and cultivating my relationships.
We are bombarded with lots of food and diet advice, but that’s not where we need the most help. How do we relax a little more and feel less guilty about spending time on our relationships rather than our work?
The shift is already happening, especially as some work places that offer more remote work.
But, I think if we can add at least one of these habits to our daily routine today, we will be better off for a lifetime to come.
Which one can you commit to today?