What Diet is Right for Me?Jan 04, 2023
Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD
It is easy to decide I want to lose weight. It is the how to do it and who to ask for advice that gets tricky. The doctor will try, but without a nutrition background is out of their depths. Your best friend will tell you what worked for them or a friend of a friend of theirs that lost 30 pounds drinking water and eating toast. There’s the websites and fitness blogs and diet apps popping up everywhere. At the end of the day the question remains, what diet is right for me?
Question 1. What am I looking to achieve? If your goal is to increase your servings of vegetables a day you’re not in need of a professional, but some great recipes and maybe a tracking app to see how much you’re eating. If you’re looking to improve sports performance, weight loss, or a medical diagnosis like diabetes, PCOS, or high cholesterol your needs are different, and a professional is your best route for safe and effective results. Do you have your answer for question one?
Question 2. What did I try in the past? What did I love and hate about what I tried? Was there a diet you didn’t really like, but loved the recipes or the accountability piece, or maybe the person you were working with. Make a list of what you’re looking for in the person and program you want to work with. Pros- accountability, handouts, flexible hours, friendliness of the staff, bonuses you get from the program. Cons- the attitude of the staff, maybe unclear direction, the meal prep, unrealistic expectations, additional products you had to buy for the diet, time constraints.
Question 3. Who should I trust? There are a lot of nutrition and fitness blogs out there not to mention social media followings. Everyone has advice. There is definitely not a shortage on it. It is up to you to determine if it is good. Who’s giving the advice is a great way to decide. Are you more likely to trust your sister Sally Sue who is an interior designer about what to eat or the dietitian. What about doctor verses dietitian? Dietitian can provide you with better advice due to our training. Doctors are very knowledgeable, but they are not trained or specialized in nutrition. Look for someone who gives you evidenced based advice. By that I mean they are giving you answers backed by either medicine or science not personal experiences and propaganda.
Question 4. Is the money really worth it? This is sometimes the biggest hold up for people. Their budget. Not all programs are created equally. The more experience and more in-depth the program the likely their price is going to be higher. The other thing to consider is you are investing in your health and the money you won’t be spending on medical care.
Think of it this way. You are obese which can lead to heart disease and diabetes. Those diagnosis led to medication, specialized doctor visits, and the need for a specialized diet. The average American spends $9601 on diabetes a year. Would you rather spend $9601 or between $500 and $1500? Keep in mind that $9601 could increase and occur every year whereas your path to health could be a 3-12 month commitment, leave you feeling empowered, and with the tools you need to be successful.
Question 5. What are barriers for the diet I want to try? You need to think through the diet you want to do. Go through these questions when determining if the diet is feasible.
Do I like the foods and recipes?
Is it in my budget?
Do I have time for the meal prep?
Does it work with my work and life schedule?
If I know my family hates what I will be eating is it still possible for me to do this diet with no support?
Question 6. How fast do I want to see results and why? This is an interesting question. I ask this because if you need to get down for height and weight or a wedding or your cruise let’s be honest, you’re not looking for healthy and sustainable you’re looking for the quickest method possible. This becomes about weight loss any weight instead of fat loss. This also is a different state of mind. Having to lose for a job or to make a weight class is different than wanting to do it for your health.
Question 7. Can I do this long term? The diet you want to do, can you see yourself still doing it next year or are you looking again for the next best thing?
Question 8. What are the health risks of the diet I want to do? Sadly, some diets come with health risks. Too much fat will cause your triglycerides and cholesterol to go up. Some diets will give you horrible GI distress such as diarrhea, cramping, bloating, or constipation. Do you want to feel tired all the time? Look up the health risks.
Question 9. Do I have performance goals? If you’re training for a marathon low carb and intermittent fasting are not your best options. Factor in your training goals and schedule into the diet plan.
Question 10. Are you happy? If the word diet makes you cringe, then why are you looking for the right diet? If you try everything and nothing works on your own, why haven’t you asked for help?
Dieting is rough. There’s so many out there and they range from too much advice and restrictions to not enough. Sometimes your best option is to talk with a professional to help narrow down the goal, the obstacles, and the best choice for you instead of the one size fits all approach.
Maybe the best diet for you is not a diet, but a way of life. Learning about nutrition, habit building, exercise, working with someone who empowers you and provides you with the tools you need to be successful and meet your goals. Finding the right fit is important because it will determine your success. Be the best detective you can be when it comes to finding the right plan for you. When in doubt ask a dietitian. That's what we do- talk food and diets and more food!
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