3 things to stop right now

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First of all, don't pay any attention to that photo. It's meant to make you hungry. A temptation. In all of its gooey cheeseburger-y goodness. 

So let's start exploring diet.  In the battle of the bulge, (the one around our midsections, not the WW2 battle), the theory is this: what you don't do is just as important as what you do do. Come again? What I mean is, in the Baby Step Method, we start by cutting things out of our diet that we don't need and are adding unnecessary calories. If this sounds easy, I can assure you it's not.

Let me share my experience. I am a junk food junkie. There, I said it. I loved (and still love) my junk food. I would buy and eat several bags of chips (especially Doritos), cookies (Chips Ahoy) and 4 liters of soft drinks (normally Coca Cola) every week. It was part of my habit. Stress made me want to eat, so I would gorge myself on these items 3 or 4 days per week.  Add to that a love for all things deep fried and I was in big trouble. I weighed over 90kg. If you think that's bad enough, you can add alcohol to the list. I would consume on average 2 or 3 drinks per day. That is a lot of calories. I mean a s***load. So what did I do? I changed. It was hard and painful, and took some time. I began to reduce my consumption of my favourite junk food, weaning myself off slowly. It took 6 months. But I did it. 

When starting out, reduce don’t cut
— Jamey Merkel

In this post I am advocating reducing and then cutting only 3 items. I didn't and probably never will cut the alcohol. I did reduce however. I enjoy it too much. And as long as you think moderation, there is nothing wrong. Remember, I am a hedonist. So here are the top 3 things to stop.

1. sugary drinks

This should easily be your number one priority. Especially soft drinks. They add so much sugar and calories to your diet with zero health benefits. I mean zero. If you are like me and love these sugary elixirs, expect some withdrawal symptoms. But you will save yourself several hundred calories a day. The other thing you should cut is fruit juice. But fruit juice is healthy, you say. The truth is that although juice does have some vitamins and minerals, it is also loaded with fructose, another type of sugar. The worst offenders are the ones you buy at the grocery store. Freshly squeezed juice is a bit better, but still contains a lot of natural sugar. But far worse is that juicing removes all the fibre from the fruit or veggies. And you need fibre.

2. refined carbs and processed food

This one is a bit tougher. Refined carbs are everywhere. You can also add to this processed food, as they are a very good source of both refined carbs and sugars. So white rice, plain pasta, white bread, all desserts, muffins, cookies, most granola bars, power bars, energy bars, etc. By reducing these items (and more, the list is too long) you cut more empty calories. Instead of thinking of what not to have, which is most aisles in your average grocery store, it is easier to think of what you can have. Now don't get me wrong. your body needs carbohydrates. So you need a source. Think whole grains, legumes, sweet potato, nuts and seeds, etc. A good rule of thumb is that the less human hands touch it the less refined it is. Again take baby steps here. When I started, I cut my Doritos and Chips Ahoy. I did feel like crying most days, and trips to the grocery store were fraught with peril. 

3.  vegetable oils

This one is tough as well. All vegetable oils like canola, rice bran, safflower, sunflower, peanut, etc etc. Include ALL deep fried foods, most stir fried foods (unless you do it yourself), potato chips and other fried snacks. Reduce your consumption here. Its ok to have the occasional french fry. Your diet can have a small dose of cheat meals. Because after all, why suck all the joy out of life? The question then becomes what oils should you consume? I have a list of only three: butter, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. That's it. If you prepare the majority of your food at home, you should have no problem sticking to this.

Starting off by cutting what you don't need out of your diet is the easiest way to reduce your calories and start thinking about consuming healthy alternatives. If you followed my advice and kept a food journal, you already know where it is easiest to cut. Set a goal and do it. You might start by cutting only one item to make the withdrawal easier. Then move on to the next and the next. Remember your baby steps.

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