Breakfast or Intermittent Fasting?
Low-Fat or Keto?
Vegetarian? Plant-Based? Vegan?
Paleo or Whole 30?
Gluten-Free? Dairy-Free? Sugar-Free?
Count Calories or Track Macros?
3 Meals Per Day or 6 Meals Per Day?
Have you ever struggled with deciding which "diet" is right for you? Have you ever wondered why so many exist; is there one that trumps all, is there one that is "right" for you and all the others are not?
Here's my frustration as a health and fitness professional: why do we make it so confusing for the general population? Why do so many health professionals live and die by one diet, by one method, and then when it doesn't work they just turn away as if you did something wrong?
There is not one miracle food or food group. There is not one miracle eating pattern. There is not one "diet" out there that we can apply to every human on earth and see amazing results.
So what should you do? Find what works best for you, what makes you feel and function great, and do that!
Maybe you've tried a few things, or a lot of things, and can't find something that works. Maybe you're currently confused about your diet and looking for what direction to go next, which is why you're reading this in the first place. If that's you, or if you've ever been confused about all the different "diets" out there, keep reading!
If there's one thing I want everyone to learn about nutrition, about diets, it's that food is good! Food is a gift. Food is supposed to be fuel. Food is supposed to gather people together. Food is supposed to be medicine. Food is not supposed to give us anxiety, make us sick, make us tired, or leave us with guilt and regret.
If any of the above is something that resonates with you, here are two truly simple guidelines to help you redirect your food choices.
1. Quality: Choose God-Made Food Over Man-Made Food
Choose non-processed or less-processed foods, as much as possible. Whenever in doubt, ask yourself where the food came from. Is it man-made, created in a lab or manufacturing facility somewhere? Or, does it come from the earth, is it something that naturally grows or roams? I'm not unrealistic, I don't expect everyone today to be able to eat a perfectly non-processed, home-grown, home-made diet every single day. But if the majority of your diet is processed foods, you are likely setting yourself up for health issues and illness.
2. Quantity: Eat For Your Needs & Goals
This is one that we can't get around no matter what crazy diets we try. Calories matter, they are energy for our bodies. When we eat more than our energy-needs, the rest gets stored. When we balance our intake with our output, our body maintains. When we eat less than our energy-needs, our body uses energy that has been stored. This is the golden rule of weight-loss, maintenance, and weight-gain. Find out how many calories you need for your goals, keep track of that however you are willing to, and do it long enough to grasp what that amount of calories looks like day to day. You do not have to track/count forever!!! You just need to know what is actually in the food you eat! This can mean tracking/counting for two weeks, or two months, or two years, or two decades, whatever works for you!
If this is all brand new to you, start with quality. Start to replace processed foods with less-processed and non-processed ones. When you feel like you have a handle on that, then find out how many calories you need and tackle quantity. There's no need to stress about all of the "this or that" options out there, because it's truly different for everyone. Adjust quality and quantity, consistently, and you'll be amazed at how you feel, perform, think, and look.
As you make dietary adjustments, pay attention to how your body responds. In a few months, you may notice that you don't get headaches anymore, or have knee pain or back pain, or want to go to sleep in the middle of the day. Instead of focusing on weight alone, realize when you didn't need that second or third cup of coffee, when you feel stronger, when you think clearer, when you have more patience with your kids, when you can fall asleep faster at night and get out of bed easier in the morning, etc.
Let's help each other make this health and fitness and wellness thing a lot less complicated! Encourage someone you know who is trying to change their eating habits, lose weight, build muscle, walk further, whatever their goal. If you need encouragement, or maybe a coach to lend you a helping hand, I am here for you!