The term diet has been spun into something that it is not. More often than not if one says 'Diet' it is seen as a temporary or fad like thing in order to lose weight or augment your lifestyle for temporary gain. Diet in its definition means the continual eating habits of a creature. So, we know cows mostly eat grass and that is their diet. Predators are carnivores and subsist mostly on meats. Somehow a diet has become misconstrued over the years as something else. It is now a marketable term and not true to its meaning. So, with trepidation, I often say I am on the Paleo diet and it is misunderstood as something akin to the Atkins diet for meat eaters or that I only consume what cavemen ate which is wholly untrue and often leads to crooked eyebrows or being told I don't need to be on a diet, that eating red meats will kill me, or some other myth perpetuated by misguided information. This mental programming of the word diet along with the 'diets' in question is part of the problem with health and nutrition. Diet is part of your lifestyle and what you can handle ingesting on a continual basis and what your body should be fed habitually.
We as humans don't really have a solidified diet per se according to nature. There are things which we should and should not eat but we have a very robust system that allows us both meats and vegetables and some in-between items. There are a lot of things that we cannot adapt to though and should be removed from the body altogether in order to achieve optimal energy levels and ease digestion. We can eat and pass pennies but that doesn't mean it is good for our body and you may or may not have adverse affects from doing so. The same can be said for gluten, legumes, dairy, sugar etc. all of which can have adverse affects, hidden or visible.
First, off we need to reprogram our minds to understand what a diet is and then remove the thought of Weight Watchers, South Beach, or any other diet from our minds. These are simply calorie deficit control systems. One needs to reconsider the idea of diet not as a way to lose weight but what your body requires to function properly. Weight loss will occur if the body is functioning properly on the proper fuels. Until that happens you will bounce around these fad weight loss programs with a roller coaster effect of gaining and losing weight, never to actually fulfill your optimal size according to your genetic patterns. Your body already knows what level it needs to maintain for a healthy weight yet our diet prohibits that on a daily basis for most of us.
The idea of Calorie Counting
Calories are your energy. You need energy to function. The issue here is the quality of the calories. You could eat calorie dense foods such as vegetables that are equal to that of a high carb/calorie meal and lose weight easily. The different being is the quality of carbs. Of course you would have to eat an immense amount of vegetables to equal that of a high carb meal such as bread or pasta. You would become satisfied long before reaching that same amount of calories. If you add some healthy fats to those vegetables your satiety trigger would limit that intake even more. Your body is quite happy with healthy fats so it will tell you when it's had enough to maintain things. The idea of calorie counting is really not all that useful, especially if on something like the paleo diet as you'll be satisfied well before you reach your limit in calories.
The other issue with calorie counting is with today's processed foods available featuring low calorie meals. So, you're replacing calories for a chemically induced meal! Something that is made to taste good but removes the guilt of consuming calories. If you ditch that for a whole food you won't have the guilt nor will you have to be concerned about watching calories. You might actually derive the energy intended from the food. Sodas are grand for this marketing hype. Zero calorie diet soda this and that! It's been proven that diet sodas actually cause carb cravings. Enjoy your chemical drink with no calories and 30 minutes later you have to have a candy bar or chips or whatever you can get out of the snack machine to fill the craving that your zero calorie drink just created. Counting calories has also not been proven to be an effective weight loss routine. It might afford you a few pounds here and there but overall the biggest change will occur in the types of food and the type of calories you're ingesting. If you're just cutting back on chips to keep your count below a certain number, you're going to be sorely disappointed and you'll likely move on to the next fad routine guaranteeing weight loss. Good luck with it.
From my own research, and I encourage everyone to do the same, fats are proven to not only to reduce intake of foods but to be the vehicle for nutrients. So if you're still hungry after a meal, find something fatty (healthy fats) to consume. I personally consume a lot of avocados and full fat coconut products. I also consume large amounts of bacon and eggs in the morning and it's likely I won't need to refuel until the early afternoon. Fats are a solid way to lower food consumption as well as provide the nutrition needed to get you well on the way to lowering weight, just by eating!
Reverse your meals
We've been told all along that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but we've never taken it seriously. I know I didn't. I lived on pop-tarts or cereal and coffee for years. I was actually raised this way and it was rare to get eggs and bacon in the morning. It's not my parents fault, they were victims of the same programming on diet that everyone else is. Cereals with fortified vitamins! Pop-Tarts have all the essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy start to your day! Right! Here's something to chew on. Fortified simply means some vitamins were dumped back into the grains after processing. Those vitamins have NO way of entering the cells and are quickly disposed of. Zero bio-availability whatsoever and all you're left with is some processed grains, that we don't ingest well, and sugar. Enjoy the crash at 10am. I digress.
Breakfast should always be the biggest meal of the day, especially for those seeking weight loss. Lunch would be slightly smaller and dinner even less. The idea behind this is that you utilize breakfast throughout the day and the other meals are supplements to maintain fuel. If eating a large meal at the end of the day and then going to bed a few hours after, you're not giving the body enough waking hours to utilize that load as energy and in sleep mode it's just going to be created as stored energy. Fat!
Not only will you give your body a break in the evenings when you're trying to sleep, this will also help restore your circadian rhythm. If you get restorative sleep on a regular basis your body has time to heal instead of dealing with processing foods. In healing, your body can regulate hormones and thus help to lose weight. Your body gets the most work done when at rest. This is true for working out, eating, and healing.
Your diet should reflect a healthy way of eating habitually according to what humans can consume. Take into consideration what your body can and cannot handle. If you get stomach pains or feel bloated from eating something. Remove it. Don't continue to eat it because Dr. So-and-So says it is healthy to do so, or that it is required for a certain plan. Don't stress over calorie consumption. You need calories for energy and to focus on calories is missing the big picture. Get rest as required and understand how the body functions, otherwise you'll never lose the weight you need to and you'll blindly follow someone's marketing plan that may or may not work for you over and over again. 'Diets' do not work. Returning to a diet meant for humans does.