The diet wars are real. Everywhere you turn, someone is telling you why you should stop eating one way and start eating another. If you listened to everyone, you would eat nothing but Kale and drink water. Except even those can be contaminated. So air. You can eat air.
Nutrition is something everyone seems to have an opinion on. And let’s be honest, we have all heard so. many. opinions.
Vegans can’t stop talking about the benefits of a plant based diet and the evils of meat. The Paleo crew hates gluten and its rage against the human body. There are the cleansers, the fasters, the eat whatever you wanters. There are people who eat only Twinkies (yeah, that’s real), and people who would NEVER dream of letting a single piece of processed food touch their mouths. And they all seem to be screaming their methods from the top of their lungs trying to get you to buy the next big thing, for 3 easy payments of $19.99.
So, how in the world does a normal human, who doesn’t want to spend hours weighing food, or juice cleanse for a week, lose weight, increase energy and feel great?
I wish I had a magic bullet for you, but there isn’t one. There are lots of different nutritional plans that will get you those results, and there are plenty that won’t. There are some that will give you results in the short-term at the expense of the long term. There are things that will work for your sister, that won’t make a single bit of difference for you. So, how does one know what to eat?
I have two simple guidelines to consider when looking to change up the way you eat.
First, does the plan seem doable and is there a way to sustain the changes you are making?
If you aren’t going to do it for the long-haul, then maybe reconsider. There are plenty of “jump-start” plans that are fantastic for you. Those types of plans are typically a bit more drastic, because they aren’t meant to be sustained. DO NOT do one if you have no plan for when you finish. If you are going to do a jump-start type of program that requires a HUGE lifestyle change, then make sure you have thought through what happens after your program is over.
If the program seems to overwhelming, or too drastic, it might not be for you. Because of my past with an eating disorder, I won’t count or track anything again. I will also never do a juice cleanse of any type because I have a weird history with that too. I know lots of people who track Macros and do it successfully. I know that counting macros is an awesome way to get results, and have had clients do it. But, it isn’t something I can do.
If you love meat, don’t become a vegetarian. If you love animals too much to eat them, Paleo is not for you. If you have a family, you need to consider them as well, because no one wants to be preparing two different meals for dinner every night.
Find something that seems doable. That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, but if you can’t understand the plan, don’t have time for the plan, or think the plan might make you crazy and obsessed, then back away from that diet book.
If you eat nothing but fast food all day, then you will need a drastic overhaul, eventually. But start small. Maybe replace one meal per day with something a little more nutritious. If you down 5 cans of Coke every day (like I used to) consider dropping it down to 3-4. If you are an all or nothing type of person and can go from fast food to Whole 30, then by all means jump in.
You know yourself. You know what you can manage. If you are eating in a super un-healthy way, you know a change needs to be made. So start somewhere. If you don’t know where, get some help (someone who is licensed, who moves at a pace you are comfortable with, and who will gracefully encourage you).
If you are someone who is somewhere in the middle of healthy and gluttonous, consider the various programs the world wide web has to offer, and see which one lines up most suitably with your lifestyle. There is no one program that works for everyone, so don’t worry about picking the perfect plan. When you are ready to give a plan a try, consider these questions after 3-4 weeks of implementation:
- Did you see results (weight loss, higher energy, feeling better overall)?
- Is there a way to continue eating this way, or modifying it slightly so that it is more sustainable?
If you answered yes to those questions then stick with it and tune everyone and their loud-mouthed opinions out! If no, consider trying something else, or tweaking the current plan.
Next, you need to consider if there is actual research behind the plan?
This can be hard, but you need to do your research on the research behind any program. Yep, that’s right. Research on the research. I am a bit of a research nerd at times, but basically, you want to make sure that the studies done on effectiveness were done by a third party who won’t benefit from the results of the research.
In terms of nutrition, lots of university programs look at different diets effectiveness and side-effects. Any company can create a study that is favorable for the products they are selling. Here’s the thing, if someone got results, they got results. But, that doesn’t always give you the big picture. If I ate nothing but Twizzlers and drank Coke all day but wanted to lose weight, I could do it. But, that doesn’t mean that is what is good for my body in the long term. Independent researchers are much more likely to look at the long term effects and lasting results of a diet plan with little to no bias. They aren’t earning anything, so their results have a much higher level of validity. I promise you Coke could come up with a study that shows it is an effective weight loss product if it really wanted to!
You might have fallen asleep on me with all that talk of research.
That’s okay. Maybe you aren’t into research like I am. No big deal.
Just keep this in mind:
Anything that promises quick results for little effort, is not a good idea. There are several simple programs out there, but they usually require time, and a good bit of commitment. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Yes, that pill, cleanse, or wrap might help you in the short term (some don’t even do that), but it will not give you sustainable results. And that’s what we all want right. No one wants to yo-yo. No one wants to feel all awesome and energetic one day and then plummet to the depths of misery the next. So, just remember, there is no magic bullet.
Some other guidelines:
- Look for programs that are based on whole foods. It’s okay to have some fun cheats every now and then. But you want most of your diet coming from some type of real food. There are a thousand different ways to do that, so don’t worry about the exact plan. Just make sure that most of what you are eating is not coming out of a box with tons of ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Look for programs that allow you to eat. You might think that sounds crazy, but seriously, there are programs that have you juicing for a week with NO food.
- Look for programs that talk about nourishing your body with the things your body needs. You can’t cleanse toxins from your body with a pill or a drink. But, you can fuel your body well with food. Find programs that emphasize that.
- Look for effects that go beyond aesthetics. You can do a lot of crazy things to lose weight. But, what will this plan do for how you feel or for your overall health?
When all else fails:
Find someone you trust, and run it by them. Don’t go to someone who sells a certain type of program. Find someone who is neutral (or as neutral as one can be about such a heavily debated topic), and get their opinion. If you have no one in your network, shoot me an email. I would love to help you!
Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?
I am too.
Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.
I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!
That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get back in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, you can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do.
Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!