How to Stick to the Diet You Choose
Welcome back to our series on how to “ring in your healthiest year yet.” You are halfway through learning how to implement resolutions that stick. Today’s resolution makeover is: Go on a diet. Diet plans and protocols for weight loss continue to grow in numbers. Should you go Keto? Paleo? Try a cleanse? How do you navigate the diet scene – it can be quite overwhelming. I prefer the term eating plan instead of “diet” which insinuates restrictive and short term.
How to Approach a New Diet Plan
I always recommend if you are going to adopt a new eating style that eliminates whole food groups or requires supplements, please consult your health care provider. Eliminating whole food groups can create nutritional imbalances that can have serious effects on health and certain supplements may interact with medication you are taking. That being said, eating styles should be assessed individually because everyone has different schedules, health conditions, lifestyles etc.
Questions to Ask When Starting a New Diet
- Is it sustainable long term? This should be the first thing you ask yourself when making an eating change for weight loss. If the answer is “no,” then really examine what the benefits are. If the goal is to reteach portion control, that might be a good thing, but if it is to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks, it’s likely not a good idea. Don’t forget cost; how expensive will this be?
- Is online or in-person support available to help me? Many programs have coaches or staff available to provide support and encouragement to keep you on the path to success. Many times when a past “dieter” graduates from the program, they can become a coach or mentor. They may or may not have a medical or nutrition background and could be getting monetary kickbacks from you being in the program. Utilize the support and check-ins, but go to your healthcare team first when making medical decisions.
- What is the diet plan claiming to do? Buyer beware when it comes to persuading words, celebrity promotions and too good to be true outcomes. That could be evidence of a good marketing team, not a truly healthful meal plan. Trust your gut and do your research.
Choosing a Diet With Balance
Find an eating plan that encourages a balance of whole food sources: fruits, vegetables, whole grains and quality meats. It’s also great if the plan provides education to teach you how to choose and prepare healthful foods at home, and how to have flexibility when dining out. Finally, a plan should encourage exercise and teach you to find ways to be active during the day.
Eating plans or diets are all around us, be sure to choose carefully! Get your healthcare team involved, and do your research on the style you plan to adopt. Be sure to consider flexibility, sustainability and enjoyment when making your decision. Don’t be afraid to change your mind – if you start a plan and you don’t feel great while doing it, find a better option!
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.