Have you ever had a diet or fitness plan that just did not click for you? Something that you went into with high hopes but it just crashed and burned?
It happens to the best of us. As I get older, I have started to really value my health so much more than when I was younger. As those priorities have shifted, I’ve found that it’s been easier to figure out what “clicks” because I’ve allowed health, nutrition, and fitness to take center stage in my life. Plenty of the decisions I’ve made in my eating lifestyle happened naturally. Not eating meat, for example, wasn’t a conscious decision. It just happened!
That, however, isn’t the case for everyone. Where do you even begin when you want to start on the path to a better, healthier you and you just don’t know where to begin? When diet after diet has failed you?
These are my top tips for finding the diet that works for you. And remember: when I say diet here, I’m talking about a lifestyle of health and nutrition. Not just a crash course to lose weight!
Top 5 Tips for Finding a Diet & Nutrition Plan That Works for You
1) Read Up on All Your Options
There are plenty of nutrition plans out there. Balanced macros. High fat, low carb. Low fat, high carb. Paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian. There are many, many different options. What you need to do regardless of what type of nutrition plan interests you is to look at all of them under a microscope. Investigate the health benefits, the pros, and cons. Look at the science.
For the most part, most of these diets (barring the crazy ones that don’t work anyway) place their values in the same place: whole, quality foods, conscientious eating, and portion control. They want you to be paying attention to the foods you put into your body.
2) Include Foods You Actually Like
What’s the point of deciding on a plant-based diet if you cringe at the thought of a life without hamburgers? Or a keto diet if you really don’t think you can live without your bran in the morning? It’s not to say you shouldn’t pick a diet that challenges you. After all, changing and being healthy demands something of us, always. We can adapt and learn.
But it’s still important that you pick a diet that includes options that excite you. You don’t want to start off on the wrong food by believing that you have no options and that you’re going to be miserable at every meal.
If you feel stuck, invest in a few cookbooks or look online for recipes based on the diet you’re interested in. Pinterest will be full of them! It will give you an idea of how you could be eating.
3) Don’t Deprive Yourself
Regardless of the path you choose, remember not to deprive yourself. While diets need to be kept to be effective, you’re far more likely to crash, especially in the beginning, if you totally deprive yourself of foods that you love. It’s okay to indulge once in a blue moon. Have a few bites of cake at a birthday party. Enjoy a small piece of pie at Thanksgiving.
The key, as always, is moderation.
4) Pay Attention to Your Body
One of the biggest keys to any diet is to pay attention to how it makes your body feel. Just about any diet will work if you’re following the right caloric equation. But there’s more to diet than losing weight. It’s about your health and your body. Does what you eat make you feel good? Does it give you energy? Make you gut regular and comfortable?
As you try out a new plan, pay attention to:
a) What Makes Me Feel Good?
It can be immediately after a meal or hours later. When you have more energy, a great workout, good sleep, or just an elevated mood, it is often connected to eating habits. Take note!
b) What Makes Me Feel Like Garbage?
By the same token, a new diet might expose deficiencies in your body in certain nutrients. You might not feel well. Certain foods might not settle right. Make sure you’re focusing on nutrition and not just weight loss or caloric intake.
5) Stick With It
In the end, no diet works if you lack consistency. It takes time for your body to acclimate to changes and for you to get in the habit, too. Allow yourself to adjust and be strict with your newfound diet for at least a month before making any definitive judgments.
Remember: there is no universal diet for everyone. It takes time to find what works. Stick to the science, listen to your body and its needs, and consult your physician to determine what will meet your health goals.
You’re not going to find quick and easy answers. The best way to reach your health and nutrition goals is through dedication and hard work.