When it comes to nutrition it is safe to say there are hundreds of different fad diets that are claiming big results in less time. Some of the latest fads include Paleo, Ketogenic Diet, The Whole 30, Atkins (is still holding strong), No Fat, No Carb, Low Carb, Cabbage Soup, I can go on… With all of these options how do we know which one is right and safe for us?
Over the years as a nutritionist I have learned the best nutrition program is a healthy, well-balanced, and sustainable one. As one expert Michelle May, MD and author of AM I Hungry? explains,”It doesn’t matter how scientifically sound the program is (and many are not), how fast they work (you will regain as fast as you lost), or even how many people have tried it before. What matters is whether you can do what they say forever– not whether you should, but whether you can.” It’s one thing to pick a diet/nutrition plan and another to actually follow through with it. We have been eating a certain way most of our lives and have developed habits over the years that are hard to change. When starting a new plan we have to make some major changes to accommodate the healthier ones. With that being said what factors do we consider before choosing a nutrition plan?
Understand What is Healthy I can’t tell you how many times clients have sat in front of me and sworn they have been eating healthy and haven’t seen any changes in their weight. Let’s define healthy. According to merriam-webster healthy definition is free from disease or pain. So what does this have to do with the foods we eat? Honestly, everything. At this point we have a good understanding that fast food meals do not rate very high on the healthy scale while whole foods that you buy from the grocery store rate higher. We can also agree processed foods like baked goods and common junk foods and candy are considered unhealthy. Now that we can distinguish which foods fall into each category let’s take it a step further. In order to pick the right nutrition plan you should be looking for balance, one that includes all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are important for our overall health and play vital roles. Let’s take carbohydrates, the poor group has a bad rap and is always being removed. First with Atkins then the South Beach diet and it continues with the Ketogenic diet and other low-carb plans. We have to understand carbohydrates are our energy source. The reason removing carbs was successful is because for every gram of carb there are 4 grams of water so we initially would lose water. Then after the weight fell off and people decided to go back to eating carbs they would re gain the weight. If we eat good quality carbs in the right amounts we can thrive and live a healthy lifestyle. Eliminating food groups or a macronutrient are not sustainable and potentially dangerous because they can cause nutrient imbalances. Another unhealthy way to diet is by restricting your calories too low. This can set you up for disaster by keeping you hungry and deprived. This can also lead to binge eating and set you back even further from your goals. Starvation diets never work and can also wreak havoc on your metabolism. Signs that a plan is unhealthy and not right for you include feeling hungry all day, moody, irritable, and not enjoying the foods you are eating. As I mentioned earlier a healthy balance is the key to longterm success.
Life-style Everyone is different. We come in different shapes, sizes, and live different lifestyles. So why wouldn’t we choose a plan that fits our lifestyle? A lot of my clients are too busy to meal prep so I have to find creative ways to get them to eat healthy. For example, I have a teacher that is in class all day and drives for Uber most days of the week. He doesn’t have time to grocery shop let alone meal prep. The best he could do is eat on the go. This meant ordering what he thought was healthiest and even that was not the best. After months of this way of eating and little to no results he finally committed to a meal prep and delivery service that prepared portioned and calorie fixed meals to his job. He continued to log his food during the first month and stuck with the meals. In the first month he lost 10 lbs. This happened because a. he used a company that took all of the guesswork out and b. he was consistent. Let’s not forget the food was healthy and sustainable. Another important factor was he said the meals were satisfying and didn’t taste bad. Let’s look at someone who has time to grocery shop and meal prep. One of the first things they need to decide is what kind of plan they should start. Is it healthy and can they do this long-term? How do they know what to eat? How many calories should they eat and will it help them reach their goals? Once they figure all this out they can create their weekly meals and grocery shop. Scheduling the time to do this helps keep them on track and even though it may seem like a lot of work once you get into a routine it becomes second nature. This brings me to my next tip…
Time and Budget Moms with time to spare are able to meal prep and be more successful with results than busy moms who work full-time jobs and have to run the kids around. Usually its the busy moms that gravitate to the Weightwatchers and Nutrisystem programs because there is less prep work involved. When looking for a plan we want to find one we have time for and fits our budget. If you have a family you cook for then batch cooking is a great way to get everyone to eat healthy and stay within budget. You wouldn’t order prepped meals for 5 people in your household considering that would get very expensive. Turn meal prepping into a family event, you not only get help from the kids you also get to spend more time together.
Is it Sustainable This tip tends to get looked over when trying to choose the right nutrition plan. Is it sustainable? In other words, will you be doing this plan for the long haul? First, let’s return to the reason why you needed a plan… to help you reach your weight loss goals, right? Right! Okay, let’s fast forward to the part you’ve achieved your goals now what? Do you go back to your old eating habits? Do you completely stop using your plan? Of course not. This is where most people drop the ball. They think they can relax and slowly slide back into their old habits because the plan they have been using is not sustainable. If they completely cut out carbs or fats they will eventually return to eating them. That is why it is important to choose a healthy balanced plan. But if we don’t know what that is or how to figure out how much of what foods to eat how are we suppose to find a plan that is right for us? One way is to go online and do some research. There are great resources and books that can guide and teach you how to eat and figure out how much to eat. If you don’t have time for that or just want someone to figure it all out for you then let’s move on to my final tip…
Talk to a Professional If you are unsure where to start or what options are out there the best step is to talk with a professional like myself. We can assess your body weight and advise you of any potential health risks that might result from not managing your weight properly. We can also help you set weight loss goals, diet guidelines, talk about fad diets, create a meal plan that is healthy and sustainable, and give advice on exercise. My job is to find the right nutrition plan for you. It’s my goal to educate and help you develop healthier eating habits that you can use long-term. I take all the guesswork out for you and help you find foods you enjoy and fit them into a sound program. Looking at your lifestyle also helps me understand what may or may not work for you. In a fast paced world we expect everything now and want results yesterday. Fad diets are temporary as are their results. Over the years I’ve learned not everyone is the same and require different approaches to their nutrition.
As you can see there are multiple factors to consider when choosing the right nutrition plan. When looking to lose weight we have gravitated to a quick fix fad diet that has left us feeling depleted and malnourished. With our health in mind we have to start looking for a more balanced and sustainable way to live through our eating and consider things like our lifestyle and budget before trying to take on a plan that may not fit our needs. In the end it can save you time and energy by going straight to the expert like a nutritionist that can help you choose the right plan.
If you are looking for online nutrition coaching Juliana is a certified personal trainer, has a degree in nutrition and has helped thousands of people with their fitness goals.
If you are looking for a jump start to your nutrition click the link below to get started on a Renew and Nourish plan that teaches you to eat healthier and make better choices. Each plan comes with a weekly meal plan, grocery list, and helps you remove foods that cause bloat and inflammation.
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