The Best Dieting Advice I Ever Heard Made Me Rethink Everything

I’m not a “diet” person. Despite eating really well and exercising like a crazy person, the word “diet” just doesn’t sit well with me. But in my nearly life-long quest to always be able to zip up my painted-on skinny jeans, I have found that diet tidbits have helped out the most. Little gems of advice on what, when, and how to eat have helped me get into the shape that I love.

Here are some of the best pieces of advice I have ever received, dating all the way back to my teen years.

‘Beware of how you ‘treat’ yourself after a workout.’

Greek yogurt in glass jars on a table.

You’re bound to be hungry after a workout, so make a meal plan that includes sweet and nourishing snacks. | Tashka2000/iStock/Getty Images

I got one of my first pieces of diet advice when I was on the dance team in high school. After long hours of taking back-to-back classes, all the girls would shove the most unhealthy food possible down their throats. (I mean, we are talking about high school kids here.) One choreographer made a point of telling us that eating something healthier — preferably full of protein — would be better for nurturing our bodies and create better overall eating habits.

Turns out he was right. I found as I got older that eating well, especially after a big workout, is one of the best ways you can manage and maintain your weight.

‘Stop comparing your metabolism to someone else’s.’

A group of women do an ab workout in a fitness studio.

Your metabolism is unique to you. | Antonio Diaz/iStock/Getty Images

Another dieting gem from my high school days — this one from my mom. I was upset that a friend of mine was still able to eat whatever she wanted, while I started gaining weight whenever I even thought about pasta. My mom told me that my metabolism isn’t the same as everyone else’s, and that I had to take care of my own body. While this disappointed me at first, it taught me at a young age how to eat better for myself. It also gave me more time to find a food regimen that worked best for me.

‘Recognize that it might take you some time to find the diet.’

Chef prepares hotpot in the stew pan.

It takes time to figure out what your body needs to thrive. | RazoomGames/iStock/Getty Images

Despite never full-on trying a fad diet, I’ve always read about meal plans in my favorite magazines. I learned pretty quickly that not all diets work for everyone. This tidbit has allowed me to think outside the box and cultivate my own healthy eating plans throughout the years. I have looked up recipes and played with different menus to find what works best for my schedule, my workout plan, and of course, my taste buds.

‘If you’re hungry, then eat!’

Woman Chopping food on a wooden board with a knife.

There will always be healthy alternatives to your cravings. | Anchiy/iStock/Getty Images

This is, hands down, one of the best dieting tips out there. Literally, every major health or nutrition publication will tell you this. If you’re hungry, you need to eat. If you don’t because you think it will help you lose weight, you’re wrong. Not eating slows down your metabolism, so you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. It’s all about being mindful of what you are eating when you reach for something to snack on. (Always grab fruit and protein over salty snacks, even if potato chips are all you can think about.)

‘Stop being so hard on yourself.’

People using cardio machines in a busy gym.

Your diet and fitness regimen don’t have to be 100% perfect. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

My first job after I graduated college was at a gym. Which sounds like a great way to get into shape — except that working terrible hours and standing still at the front counter all day wreaked havoc on my diet and exercise regimen. I got stressed when I gained weight and had to revamp my eating habits. One of the personal trainers saw that I was feeling pressure from my new eating plan, and told me that taking a diet too seriously would make me more likely to ditch it. So I stopped putting so much pressure on myself — and was able to stick with it.

‘Eat breakfast — and stop snacking late.’

A hearty smoothie bowl filled with yogurt and toppings.

Skipping breakfast is a surefire way to overindulge throughout the day. | Sarsmis/iStock/Getty Images

When you write about food and exercise all day, you find that some of the best tips out there are spread across many publications. The two most common tidbits that I have seen in conjunction to weight loss and weight management are that you have to eat breakfast and should avoid snacking late at night. And I can honestly say that I am in my best shape when I start my day off with a meal and avoid scarfing something down at night.

‘Look at your diet as a lifestyle change.’

Organic Breakfast Quinoa with Nuts on a wooden table.

Your entire lifestyle can benefit from being healthy. | Bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

As I said in the beginning, I have never been a fan of the word “diet.” So I have found that the common tip “look at it as a lifestyle change” is actually incredibly helpful. Sine a stereotypical diet has a timetable and set goals, viewing healthy eating as an ongoing lifestyle takes the pressure off. It keeps me craving healthier foods and makes it easy to clean up the menu after I have had a cheat day. (Or cheat weekend. We all have those sometimes.) And since weight management has even more to do with food than it does with exercise, this advice has probably been the most helpful of all.