The new year always brings about the most epic, and sometimes ridiculous, resolutions, and for a lot of us, these revolve around diets. Since you're here reading this, I'm going to make the assumption you're on this bus with me. Well babe, if you're wanting to learn about flexible dieting and why you should be doing it, you're in the right place.
This is the start of a new path for me. Last year (and many times throughout my life) I fell off the rail and binge ate my way through most days. I'm talking eating an entire box of pasta followed by a whole box of cookies with a side of.... a giant head of broccoli — all in one sitting. Yes, you read that right.
I have taken some precautions to avoid the hell out of another binge cycle. I've worked with my therapist to find the root causes of my BED (binge eating disorder). I journal daily. I have a list of go-to activities if I feel the urge to binge (one of which is cleaning... imagine how clean my house gets HAHA). But the most important step I've taken is to learn more about intuitive eating. I'm starting that journey by giving flexible dieting a try, per request of my very own fantastic trainer.
I'm not new to the world of tracking macros and such, but I know from experience that it can cause a terrible relationship with food. I firmly believe it is not sustainable in the long run, and most people agree.
So here is the good news. Flexible dieting is all about the short term. Try it for a month to learn what a good portion size and healthy foods look like, and then wean yourself off. Use the knowledge you gain to begin intuitive eating. I promise you will love it.
Alright, alright. I hear you. You're ready for me to move the F on and tell you precisely what flexible dieting is and how to do it.
Flexible dieting is a method of counting your macros to ensure you are not over or under eating, while still eating the foods you love. And it's called 'flexible' because you can adjust your foods. Want to treat your self to a Starbucks skinny vanilla coffee today? You can enjoy that, and cut something else out later. You'll still hit your macros and will feel less guilty (you should never feel guilty anyway. Food is fuel).
It's a lot more simple than you might think. The incredible part is you aren't following some super restrictive meal plan full of foods you don't even like. You get to eat what you want and when you want. Yessss, babe, you read that right.
How you go about it;
Firstly, you need to figure out what your daily target goals are in respect to calories, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
While I could list a ton of website calculators to do just this, I'm going to resist. Why? Because a computer generated program can (and does) make many mistakes. For example, MyFitnessPal will calculate it, but it's not always right. When I put my information in, the app tells me to hit a goal of 1400 calories a day. When in reality my goal (while losing weight mind you) is 1909. While MyFitnessPal is a fabulous app, and I totally recommend using it, it's not perfect. Instead, you should find yourself a coach or nutritionist who knows how to calculate macros and have them do it for you. Then you can manually adjust your goals in whatever app you choose to use.
That brings me to the app or resource. I highly recommend MyFitnessPal as it is super easy to use and functional. But there are tons of other apps out there too. You could always go the old fashion way and keep a food journal.
That is the gist of macro tracking, and now all you need to do is figure out your macro goals and start tracking!
Here is a full day of eating example for someone with these macro goals; 1909 calories, 25% protein (120 grams), 44% carbs (210 grams), and 31% fat (65 grams).
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 ounces plain almond yogurt
60 grams banana
(blend into a smoothie)
2 cups spinach
80 grams sweet potato
3.5 ounces chickpeas
150 grams Quorn Meatless Pieces
2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
(I like to add Complete Seasoning to the chickpeas and sweet potato)
150 grams Quorn Meatless Pieces
3.9 ounces chickpeas
1/2 cup mashed cauliflower
2 Cinnamon Rice Cakes
1.5 tbsp raw cashew butter
75 grams (dry) Banza chickpea pasta
4 oz broccoli
either 1 tbsp butter and seasoning as a sauce or
4 tbsp low sodium spaghetti sauce
These are my top 3 tips when starting a flexible diet;
1. Don't aim to hit your macros at 100% accuracy. You will drive yourself insane. Try aiming for 20 - 30 grams around your goal.
2. Copy and paste your food log from one day into the next when using an app like MyFitnessPal. Most of us eat similar each day, and this will save you the time and effort of logging each day.
3. Be easy on yourself, especially if you are new. It's not always easy figuring out what foods to eat to make your plan work. Give it a few days (or even weeks) to figure out your perfect menu.
I hope this blog helped you and if you want some help figuring out your macros, I'd be happy to help! Leave a comment or shoot me an email at Tina@ChristinaBalles.com.