When you want to lose weight, it can get difficult to find out where to start. If you talk to friends, family or colleagues, some might suggest you try out Keto. Others might root for Paleo or going Vegan. Or something entirely different.
With a big question mark hovering over your head, you turn to google, browse through your favourite magazine, walk into the library or your favourite bookstore to read up on the experts’ opinions. But you soon find out that for every diet out there, there are people and studies which support it, while others advise against it. The question mark above your head is growing even bigger. What now? What is the best diet? And do you have to go on a diet at all to lose the extra kilos?
All this information out there for sure can seem confusing and overwhelm you. The simple truth is that there is no one best diet. People are different. They have different dietary requirements and preferences. They live in different environments, with different restrictions in terms of time or money. Food can mean very different things to them: While some consider themselves as foodies , others live on microwavable, ready-made meals and have never learned to cook for themselves. And these are just a few examples. Consequently, different things will work for different people.
Look at the big picture
When trying to find the best diet for you, it therefore helps to look at the big picture first. All diets that work long-term share a few common principles that are worth considering.
One thing they all have in common is paying attention to what you eat. You start to watch your appetite and fullness cues and check in with yourself how the foods you eat generally make you feel. You eat more mindfully, plan ahead and make conscious choices of what you eat.
More concretely, every good diet focuses on quality foods. Quality foods mean unprocessed or minimally processed whole foods, for example produce, grains or meats. It does not mean that you only have to eat organic foods - though you can, if you want to. There are various reasons why whole foods are so important for any healthy diet.
First, they are nutrient-dense. They provide your body with important nutrients it needs to function properly, for example different vitamins and minerals. They help you meet your nutrient needs and prevent malnutrition. As a result, you feel and look healthy when you predominantly eat those foods. Many highly processed foods, on the other hand, are nutrient-poor but energy-dense, which means they provide you with lots of calories, but contain barely any useful nutrients.
Furthermore, quality foods help you control your appetite and food intake. Food companies spend a lot of time and money to make highly-processed foods like fries, potato chips or cake hyperpalatable and they’re very successful at it. That means that once you’ve started eating those foods, you’ll want more, which makes it very easy to overeat on them.
Whole foods on the other hand don’t have this effect that can be described as almost addictive. They promote what is called “palate fatique”. This means that your body recognizes when you’ve eaten enough and you’ll naturally want to stop eating. Therefore, it’s much harder to overeat on whole foods than on processed foods. In other words, whole foods are satisfying.
Temporary changes lead to temporary results
A good diet is also sustainable. It’s composed of foods you enjoy eating and your body tolerates well. It fits your budget, cooking skills and time restrictions. It’s a diet that you can stay on long-term, day in and day out, without too much difficulty. Because if changes are only temporary, they also only lead to temporary results, at best. A sustainable diet also provides you with a certain amount of flexibility, so that rather than following a strict meal plan, you can still enjoy social events and just generally fit it into your daily life.
On the other hand that means that a good diet does not provide you with a quick fix. If a weight loss “solution” you come across sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately, there are a lot of snake oils and promises of quick fixes out there. Some of them don’t work at all and others might work short-term, but as soon as you get “off the diet”, you start gaining the weight you lost back.
With that being said, it is not even necessary to “go on a diet” at all. Your “diet” is everything you eat and drink. It includes all the food choices you make on a daily basis, therefore you cannot “not be on a diet”. And therefore all it really takes to find the best diet for you is paying close attention to what you eat and striving to improve your dietary choices with every day.
Eager to transform your life and turn into the most confident, healthy, best version of yourself? Book your appointment with Walnut Coaching.