I think it’s extremely common for people to be very overwhelmed and even confused with information on diet/nutrition.
There are SO MANY different diets, fads, tips & tricks out there that make the topic extremely saturated. And to top it off – most of the advice that is circling around is completely contradictory. Someone you follow thinks that one diet is the secret to weight loss, another says the opposite.
It’s frustrating for me as well, as I’m no dietitian and don’t know everything there is to know about nutrition. But I am able to see through the methods that simply have no scientific basis and use slogans like “fast track to fat loss” and “eliminate love handles with this supplement” to suck people in.
What I’m here to tell you NOT to do is the falsely stated “fitness tips” that, in reality, are money-grab fads that you don’t need in your life. Let’s talk about how to create a sustainable lifestyle change to cater to a healthy diet.
The truth is, the diet (or non-diet) for you is…
The one that you will actually adhere to.
Please read that again.
2 more times for good measure.
what do I mean?
I mean that the right diet for you is the one that you enjoy and will actually be able to stick to. If you are trying to restrict yourself to an insanely limited range of meals and get super bored of them, you aren’t going to stick to it. And then you’ll get off track from your plan and feel bad about it.
There are so many extreme forms of fitness and dieting, and so many famous people that swear by one method and one method only. But I’m here to tell you that there is not, and never has been, a “one size fits all” for nutrition.
Every single person actually needs their own recipe for what will work for them. We all have different goals, different preferences for meals, different genes, hormone levels, activity levels, etc. We like different foods and what works for one person may not for another.
You have to eat for the rest of your life (duh) and the most important thing on your mind regarding food should be your relationship with it. You don’t want to be constantly having to do 21-day detoxes the rest of your life, do you?
You should try to focus on creating a sustainable diet – and by diet I simply mean the food you eat – that you enjoy and can do long-term. Like for the rest of your life long-term. Something sustainable that you don’t have to jump in and out of all the time. Yo-yo diets are not the way to go.
Here are a few EXTREMELY simplified tips for your nutrition. These are a great starting point if you feel lost or overwhelmed with the idea of paying attention to your diet.
dos and don’ts of nutrition
DON’T: start cutting out everything you love
Why? Why would you go to extreme measures and make yourself miserable? You don’t need to cut out all carbs. You don’t need to eat exactly what Jane Doe eats to look like her. Trying to start a diet that you won’t enjoy is like trying to go shopping for quality clothes at Forever 21. You may be satisfied short term, but in the end everything will fall apart.
DO: find your areas of over-indulgence
We all have certain habits when it comes to our food. Maybe we are keen to snack all day/night. Maybe we have bigger-than-needed portions for dinner. Or maybe we can’t help but have that giant bowl of ice cream at night.
But instead of being ~extreme~ and completely cutting all of that out, find a happy medium. Opt for low-calorie alternatives. Make your own veggie/potato chips instead of the greasy, oiled up store-bought ones. Fill your dinner plate with extra veggies (fiber) and protein to fill you up with a smaller portion. Find a low-calorie ice cream that you love.
You don’t have to eliminate. Just look into what your habits are and see how here and there you can choose healthier alternatives to some areas where you might over-indulge.
DON’T: assume that eating healthy foods will make you lose weight
Many people claim that they are eating healthy but still not losing weight.
If you aren’t losing fat, you are not in a calorie deficit. Unfortunately people that say this don’t know a lot about what makes a food “healthy” and what it contains, especially how many calories.
DO: educate yourself on your go-to foods
It can be super helpful to find out how many calories are in typical foods that you eat. That way you know that if you limit some and increase others, you can have a different outcome in your total daily caloric intake.
All it takes is some time and research to figure out what foods will be best for you – foods that you like AND help you reach your weight loss goals.
DON’T: decide that certain foods are inherently “good” or “bad”
What makes a food good/bad? The nutrient density? The taste? The way it makes you feel?
Foods aren’t grown/made inherently good or bad. It can take a serious mental toll on you when you view them as such, and can lead to serious unhappiness. Don’t view certain foods as “cheat meals” when it may be more calories and less nutrients. Don’t think something is “good” just because it has less calories.
DO: create a balance of nutritious/not so nutritious food
This kind of goes back to the why make yourself miserable point above. Foods that we love aren’t BAD, they just may not be as nutrient dense as others. It doesn’t mean we can’t eat them, it just means we should eat them with other nutritious foods and maybe keep them in moderation – like literally every other food ever.
you vs. food?
You should feel like you have an alliance with your food, not like it’s your enemy.
It’s important to think about food as fuel. What you put into your body makes you feel a certain way, and helps fuel you for the day. If you are fueling your body with extremely nutrient dense foods but you don’t really feel satisfied or happy about your meals, it’s going to catch up to you. This often ends in bingeing on a food you do love.
So take into account how food makes you feel – physically, mentally and emotionally. I love having something light before workouts because I know it will make my body feel good when I exercise. And I love to eat dessert every night after dinner because it makes me feel content and satisfies my sweet tooth.
Find your balance (it takes time and patience) and learn to understand your body. It will be so worth it, especially in the long run.
If you have questions or need help, I am always available! I can help you find the right balance for your goals and needs.