Which Diet Is Right For You?
Welcome to another new year and the start of a new decade! Now more than ever it’s the time of year for people to reinvent themselves, do better, be better. Resolutions are made and for millions, one of those includes weight loss. Companies have been pitching their diet plans for months leading up to this and chances are you’ve considered (or already embarked) on one.
No judgement here. Anytime is a great time to try something new to benefit your health!
Before you go deep down the rabbit hole of detoxes, cleanses and new diet plans, I’m here to give you some solid advice (friend to friend).
Almost any diet can work. Almost all of them will fail.
I won’t leave it there, of course there’s a few caveats etc. First and foremost being that ADHERENCE is everything with your new plans. The second is that there is NO QUICK FIX healthy ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL solution for an issue that has probably taken months and even years to develop. Here’s a super brief overview of what many are considering:
Cleanses and Detoxes
Please use extreme caution with cleanses or detoxes. I advise against them for a number of reasons, one being they can lead to more issues if your natural detox pathways aren’t supported. Detox pills seem so harmless, but can be very taxing to the body. Plus aren’t things like 3-day juice cleanses, liver detoxes and having copious amounts of diarrhea escape your body (yeah, I said it) at best mildly horrible? Sure, you may lose water weight and feel lighter, but these tend to be a short term side effect.
Your body naturally detoxes itself. Hydrate properly, avoid excessive stress, feed and rest according to your body’s needs and maybe incorporate some less-invasive alternate therapies like infrared sauna, cold thermogenesis and dry brushing. Being consistent with therapies like this throughout the year reduces the need for any specific detox protocol.
Try them if you must, but make sure you are at the least drinking TONS of water and taking in adequate electrolytes along with getting guidance from a trained professional.
I’m a fan of these because typically they are tossing out inflammatory foods (at least for awhile) and tend not to be as extreme as some of the detoxes, cleanses and fad diets. There are a number of popular elimination diets like Whole 30, GAPs, low FODMAP, and my RESTART program that will lead you through a process of eliminating potential problematic foods. Over a period of time you’ll assess how you feel and gradually reintroduce foods (if desired) to see if they did in fact affect you negatively.
These often lead to great results such as:
Identification of food sensitivities or intolerances specific to your body
Better blood sugar regulation
Improved health markers such as HBA1C, blood pressure, cholesterol
Improved sleep quality
Reduction in bloating
Resolves or partially resolves joint pain
Improvement in mental clarity and focus
RESTART clients have had some or all of these improvements happen in just 5 weeks of working with the plan. Some enjoyed how they felt so much they continue to maintain this way of eating as they work on improving their health.
The best part about an elimination diet like this is that it resets your cravings, metabolism and even approach toward food in FIVE weeks. It’s a great springboard to either continue eating this way or further tweak your eating plan into something more sustainable and realistic for you.
The CONS about these types of diets are:
1. Many don’t stick with some aspect of them long enough to reap the full benefit. The elimination phase is the key component to identifying foods to which you may be sensitive. It can take longer than the diet’s prescribed time to feel any positive changes to your body. Some people feel crappy at first which makes it hard to push through to the feeling good part.
2. People tend to rush the reintroduction phase. They missed certain foods and don’t take the time to really monitor how they feel once they eat it again. Or they pick and choose foods that aren't on plan and add them in anyway.
3. These aren’t always sustainable long term. Not because there’s anything inherently unhealthy about them, but usually the excitement wears off after a few months and old habits die hard. Depending on how a person handles 1 and 2 above, this kind of diet may not be taken seriously and leaves people wondering where to go next. Having a nutritionist to guide you in the next steps is a great idea to make the most of a diet like this.
I’m going to make this quick and lump a TON of diets into one category here. Let’s just say that almost any diet that enjoys a moment of trendiness could be considered a fad, although it usually implies something promoted as a quick fix. Anything from low fat (hellooo 80s and 90s), to Atkins, South Beach, even go as far as including keto (which has become super trendy).
What makes these work, at least in the short term, is that often you’re eliminating sugar and inflammatory foods in favor of real, whole foods. People who consume the Standard American Diet (SAD) regularly include sugar, starches, refined grains and other processed foods, fast food, etc. So moving away from that and avoiding some of these pitfalls will certainly make a difference in the short term.
Long term, however, many people feel like they’re missing out on their favorite foods and have trouble sticking to the plan.
Setting Goals and Changing Your Mindset
Creating specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely goals (SMART goals) and writing them down is one way to monitor and set out to achieve success. Remember you can change these too as you go along! Framing your new habits in a positive mindset is equally important. While it can be challenging to adopt a new lifestyle, eating healthier is part of the big picture of feeling better so keep your eye to the future! You can do this!