Happy 2020! With a new year and a new decade, many of us have set goals and resolutions, many of them being to eat healthier or diet. One study shows roughly 70% of people aim to eat better or go on a diet with more than half breaking those resolutions by the end of January!! Why is that? Is there a diet that is the best for everyone wanting to lose weight or be healthier? What does "eating healthier" even mean?
The word "diet" has become so misconstrued. When someone says they're going on a diet, you think restriction, cutting calories or major food groups, when simply, a diet is just what you are eating. There are so many ways of eating- keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, low FODMAP, anti-inflammatory diet, I could go on. Why do we feel like we need to put a label on what we eat? Is it because we think one is better than the next?
I've been told many times through my journey of building a business that I should target people who eat specific diets and yet, I've never done that. If I'm being completely honest, that goes against what I believe people should focus on and it isn't something I want to promote. That doesn't mean I don't think certain people should/should not eat a certain way, but food is food. The whole label thing is just yet another thing we stress about. (like we need more of that in this day and age *face palm*)
So, what is the best diet? Guess what, there is no one best diet!!! Everyone and every body is completely different and unique. What my body thrives on might not be what my best friend's body thrives on, or maybe not even anyone. I've tried every which way of eating- vegan, low carb, low fat, no sugar, vegetarian, you name it, I tried it. Some people thrive on a vegan diet, I am not one of those people. While I agree with a heavy plant-based diet of whole foods, some individuals need to consume small amounts of good quality animal products to feel their best, and that is okay! You do you.
However, what I think everyone does do well on is a whole foods diet. No one's body functions well on fast food, processed, boxed junk and I am 100% certain of that. Does that mean I advise people to never eat out? Absolutely not. You also have to enjoy life and if that means having a pizza night, you have that pizza night. Be mindful of how you feel during and after those more indulgent meals. it also doesn't mean you have to binge and have an extra-large pizza in one sitting because it's your "cheat meal"- another phrase I don't like.
A few things to think of before you jump on a diet:
Is it sustainable? Can you stay on this diet for your whole life? Keto may sound great and you might lose weight, but can you cut out all carbs and have your diet be 70%+ fats for the rest of your life? My answer would be negative.
Do you have a plan if you fall of a certain diet? If you want to try intermittent fasting for a couple of months but don't have a plan for what to do after, you're just going to go back to your old ways and it's a vicious cycle. Same if you want to try the keto or paleo diet- you need a plan to transition to that is more sustainable or else you just did that work for essentially nothing.
Do you need to buy shakes, supplements and pills to correctly do the diet? If the answer is yes, I advise you to stay far, far away from all of that. Sometimes these added shakes and supplements can be dangerous and 9/10 aren't even scientifically studied and have no evidence to make you "lose 40 pounds in 30 days".
Most importantly, is it beneficial to your mental health? Are you obsessing over what your next meal will be or what you're going to eat out at a restaurant for a friend’s birthday? If you are, diets are not something you should focus on and can lead to eating disorders. Instead, fuel your body with what makes you feel best.
5 Tips to a Healthier Lifestyle;
1. Make your own food and meal prep- this is truly the only way to know what is going into your body. Yes, it can take some time, but you do not have to be in your kitchen for 5 hours on a Sunday meal prepping. 1 hour is plenty and you can make some great things in that hour. Something as simple as prepping veggies for the week to add into meals makes a world of difference. Baby steps.
2. Be mindful of drinks- you know all those Christmas drinks that come out at Starbucks that everyone loves? They are full of chemicals, sugars, and empty calories. A grande caramel brule late has 450 calories and 47 grams of sugar!!! They do absolutely nothing for your physical well-being, however having one once a year isn't going to drastically change anything and I understand the importance of emotional and mental well-being as well. Maybe for you that is treating yourself to a special drink! A tip I have is to ask for a plant-based milk and ask for it half sweet. It tastes exactly the same. I even ask for a quarter sweet and it's just as good.
Alcohol is another one. While I do indulge in a couple of glasses of wine here and there, it isn't a regular occurrence. Alcohol depletes the body of many vitamins, minerals and dehydrates too. While I don't suggest counting calories, alcohol really is empty calories that can be used elsewhere in the form of food. Opt for 1-2 glasses of wine or a vodka soda instead of a bellini or any other sweetened drink.
3. Cut back on snacks- I am the snack queen. I could eat snacks all day. While snacking can be helpful for blood sugar balance, it can hinder weight loss if that is your goal. Try aiming for 3-4 well balanced meals and you shouldn't feel like you need a snack. If you do, choose an apple with a small handful of almonds or brown rice cakes with 1/2 an avocado.
4. Fibre, fibre, fibre- this is one thing I don't think we get enough of. Depending on age and sex, the recommended daily amount is between 38-21 grams. Fibre does so many things for the body. It keeps digestion running optimally, regular and healthy bowel movements, slowing down blood sugar absorption, keeping you full longer and more. Half of your plate should be vegetables. They are packed with nutrients and fibre that the body requires. Other sources of fibre are chia seeds, oats, sweet potato, beans and lentils.
5. Find an activity you enjoy- whether that's yoga, going to the gym, running, walking your dog, something to get you moving daily. It does amazing things for not only the body but for your mental and emotional health. If you're feeling anxious or stressed, take a short break, even 10 minutes to go for a walk, or just sit in silence and breathe, but really breathe, not those shallow breaths we all take because apparently we're all to busy to breathe properly. Big, full, belly breaths. They help so much.
If you made it this far, thank you. I hope I could help ease some of this stress around new years resolutions and help you realize it doesn't have to be an all or nothing scenario. The best "diet" is whatever works for you as an individual. We get so caught up in what’s good one day and bad the next that we forget to listen to our own bodies and what it needs. Small steps lead to greater and lasting change.