Break up with your diet.
Even research proves dieting doesn't work long term.
Welcome to Forkful, a weekly nutrition newsletter encouraging you to break up with dieting—and pick up a fork. Subscribe for regular updates with exclusive recipes, interviews, Q&A’s, product recommendations, and much more!
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Why should I waste another second forcing my body to be something it’s not?
I may be short, but I’m not petite. I’m curvy and soft and my body takes up space. I used to think I needed to shrink my body and take up as little space as possible. But why try to minimize myself when I want to take up space in this world?
The world is so obsessed with dieting and weight loss that we end up pushing our bodies to the breaking point in order to seem “healthy.” But our bodies tell a different story when under immense pressure. We’re hungry from restrictions, fatigued from extensive workouts, irritated at a number on a scale that won’t budge. Our bodies are literally screaming at us to “please feed me” and “take a break.” And when we do listen to it, we chalk it up to a “lack of willpower” and call ourselves failures for actually listening to our body’s needs.
This is why diet culture is considered toxic. It promotes health but destroys your body in the process. It makes you believe that if you fail, you weren’t strong enough to be healthy...and soon, you start to think your body isn’t deserving of a healthy life at all.
I’m here to tell you that’s just not true. You are deserving of a healthy life right now, in the body you currently have. You don’t have to change yourself in order to be considered healthy.
Instead of forcing yourself into the box of standards invented from toxic diet culture, take up space. Enjoy taking care of your body for the mere sake that it makes you feel good. Let a long, happy life be your motivation—not a number on the scale.
This is my mission. An encouraging space free of poisonous dieting tips and unhealthy practices. I approach health from a place of loving my current body and wanting to take care of it for as long as I can. And I hope my reporting encourages you to do the same.
Today’s the day you break up with your diet.
Even research shows that diets don’t work long term, so why go through with it?
Food restriction on a long-term scale has never worked for weight management. After evaluating many weight loss studies, a report from UCLA concluded that even if participants lost some of the initial weight from their diet, it always came back because their eating plans were never sustainable. Some studies even showed that 33% to 66% of the participants gained more weight after their diet.
That’s because your body goes through a series of responses when you restrict it from those core nutrients. Calorie restriction can actually lead to a slowing of the metabolism so your body can conserve energy to use for later, according to The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This makes it even harder to lose weight.
Your body on a diet will also release gherlin, the “hunger hormone,” which is why you always feel hungry when you’re on a diet. The body is literally sending responses to be fed.
Research shows that yo-yo dieting (where you go back and forth between periods of dieting and not dieting, also known as weight-cycling) can cause your body to lose muscle and easily gain fat during the weight regain phase later, which leads to an overall higher body fat percentage, according to Obesity Reviews. Yo-yo dieting not only causes issues with your metabolism, but is also associated with fatty liver disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
Given how unhealthy dieting can be, it doesn’t seem like a “healthy” resolution at all, does it?
Set a different kind of resolution.
One that promotes health from a completely different perspective. Forget scales. Forget measurements. Forget jean sizes. Choose a new healthy practice that feels good for the body that you have right now, not some lofty idea of a body that doesn’t match the beautiful one you’re in right now.
For me, my resolution is to drink six cups of water a day.
You’re probably asking yourself...six cups? Isn’t it recommended to drink eight? Well, not necessarily.
The truth is, your liquid consumption throughout the day should actually be much higher. Adequate intake (AI) for men should be 117 ounces a day (~14.5 cups), and 93 ounces for women (~11.5 cups), according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Now liquid consumption isn’t just water. Other drinks, like coffee and tea, can also help you reach your AI of liquid consumption, given that they are also water-based. Daily hydration can also come from hydrating foods, like fruits and vegetables, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) says 35% to 54% of your liquid intake needs to come from water, so at least five to eight cups of water for men, and four to six cups for women.
While the amount of recommended water consumption may not be what you thought (although drinking eight cups isn’t a bad piece of advice), it’s still important for your body. According to Harvard Medical School, drinking water regularly carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells, lowers blood pressure, aids digestion, maintains electrolyte balance, regulates body temperature, protects your organs, stabilizes your heartbeat, elevates your mood, and much more.
So I’ve set a goal to make sure my liquid consumption doesn’t mostly come from coffee (guilty) and drink the recommended six cups of water a day.
This practice of drinking it out of a large mason jar is one that I actually learned from Jules Acree. She suggested drinking out of a large jar that has measurements because you can actually see how much you’ve consumed. And it’s a lot more appealing to look at compared to some of those tacky water tracking bottles online. My jar has three cups per, so I just have to fill it up twice a day.
Other healthy resolutions to try
Here are some other healthy practices to consider that promote a happy, healthy life right now.
Add fruits and/or veggies to every meal. Along with a burst of nutrients (vitamins and minerals essential for the healthy functioning of your body) you’ll get from colorful produce, fruits and vegetables are an easy way to increase your fiber intake for the day. Fiber is an essential nutrient that helps with stabilizing blood sugar, lowering your cholesterol, improving your digestive tract healthy, and keeping you full for longer. The DRI for fiber is 25 to 30 grams a day—much higher than the average 10 to 15 that Americans usually get.
Go whole wheat. For the same reason as above, whole wheat and whole grain products still contain the natural fiber found in wheat. White bread products usually strip the nutrients in the product in order to preserve it. Instead, reach for the whole-wheat versions of your favorite foods—like pasta, tortillas, pizza crust, and more. A slice of whole-grain bread typically provides 3 to 5 grams of fiber per slice, so making a sandwich with that kind of bread can really increase your fiber intake for the day.
Move your body twice a week. The CDC says regular physical activity can significantly decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety, dementia, and even some types of cancers. Remember—moving your body doesn’t always mean going for a long run or lifting for hours in the gym. Choose a workout that you actually like, one that will get your “large muscles moving in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time,” according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The CDC recommends getting 150 minutes of movement a week, but if that seems like too much at first, start off by scheduling two workout sessions and see what you like. Then add on more days later if it’s working!
And now...for my favorite part of the newsletter.
I love it when I can throw an entire bunch of kale in a recipe.
I’m obsessed with skillet suppers. Okay, I know some people have a different definition for supper or dinner—but I am not one of those people. Supper and dinner are synonymous, and so are the meals. You can reply to this email and fight me on it, if you wish.
Anyways, if I can make my entire meal in just my cast-iron skillet, it’s a gold star meal. I’m a huge fan of the one-pot/one-pan dinners. If I can cook everything using one appliance and limit the number of dishes I have to hand wash in my dishwasher-free apartment, I’m a happy chick.
This recipe was inspired by the leftovers in my fridge, which is honestly how a lot of my recipes are born. Kale from the farmer’s market, a few Italian sausage links, leftover white wine, a half-used block of parmesan...all in need of a recipe. And in my head, combining kale and sausage and parmesan screams pasta night. I had a package of potato gnocchi ready to use and a will to get rid of shit in my fridge, so I went for it.
Also, isn’t it just satisfying to use up that many vegetables in a dish? My husband makes fun of me for being that kind of person that just “stuffs” vegetables in things, but this recipe just worked, okay? And given that he ate his whole plate with kale and didn’t complain is saying something...
Kale Gnocchi White Wine Skillet
Makes 3 servings (or 2, if you’re super hungry)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 Italian sausages, cases removed
1 small bunch of kale, torn roughly
1 package shelf-stable potato gnocchi
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup leftover dry white wine
Fresh shredded Parmesan
Red pepper flakes, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium to medium-low heat.
Once heated, add in the onion and minced garlic, stirring to combine. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
Add in the Italian sausages and ground them up. I find it actually is easier to pull them apart with clean hands.
Stir occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sausage chunks are no longer pink on the outside.
Add in the kale leaves (removed from the stem and torn up roughly with your hands) and stir to combine. Cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, or until the kale has visibly shrunk.
Toss in the potato gnocchi, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste (using as much as you want. If you want guidelines, I like 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).
Pour in the white wine slowly. Stir to combine, then turn off the stove.
Place the skillet in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
Top with freshly shredded parmesan. Add red pepper flakes, if desired.
Turns out, I’ve been missing a key tool when prepping veggies at home.
So at first, I thought the bench knife (also known as a bench scraper) was meant only for bread baking. I use mine pretty consistently when I make sourdough at home because it’s easier to scrape up the dough and move it into a banneton to rise, or the dutch oven to bake. But clearly, I was missing out on one of the most beneficial ways of using this tool.
I was viewing a random cooking video on YouTube one day, and watched as the cook scoop up their chopped veggies from the cutting board and throw it into the pot using a bench knife. And I yelped. How have I never thought of this before?
Usually, I’m scraping up my veggies with a knife (not safe, clearly) or simply scooping them up with my hands. But with the bench scraper, I can scoop a majority of my chopped veggies and easily throw them in the pot or pan I’m using.
Maybe this isn’t revolutionary for the rest of you, but for me, it has completely changed my cooking experience at home. I recently got the Bench Knife from King Arthur Flour, if you’re looking for one to snag yourself.
Here are all of the random things that were on my plate this week. Get it?
What I cooked: This Baked Brie Appetizer from Ain’t Too Proud To Meg was a hit at our family Christmas festivities last week. So easy to throw together.
Where I went: The Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Fla. to cheer on the Iowa State Cyclones! We came, we ate Cheez-It’s, we lost.
What I listened to: The Spectrum on Sirius XM Radio. Lots of driving this past week.
What I read: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
What I watched: Adele One Night Only on Paramount +