Updated: Dec 8, 2021
What is the first thing that pops up in your mind when someone says the word diet? How many times have you been asked the question: What diet you are on now? If you have just lost a bit of weight or gained some muscles. We all have that one friend that does not want to try the cake because he/she is on a diet.
The word diet is often related to restrictions. We think of a diet as a guideline that we should follow in order to achieve health or physical change. It is often prescribed by doctors, nutritionists, or personal trainers, regarding our needs for change. Often, we search for diets online, and they are thousands. Every day someone offers a diet that is the best and it will help you lose fats, fast. Some of them are even advertised with a “no yo-yo effect”, but more about that a bit more down the lines. The truth that everybody should know is that every single person on the planet is on some form of diet. It is nothing more than a habitual way of eating. Or simply the way you eat right now. Everything that you tend to eat, the way you tend to choose or cook your food is your own diet plan that you have created over the years of trying, testing, and implementing.
Diet is not a plan for eating. It is, like the routine you have every morning. You create it. you adjust it and follow it because it works for you. The same with your diet, you should aim to create and adjust it, to meet the needs of your body, in terms of health and performance. This is the reason, why all those online diets do not work, they are general, they are different. And yes, they may work. For a while.
I want to address and make 2 cases why diet plans or certain diets are not ideal to follow.
Individual food plans and short-term diets.
Those are often associated with a yo-yo effect and have even been advertised as such. The truth is that it is a restriction-type plan. It tells you how to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and you can't wait to go off, of it so can enjoy some foods which were forbidden. This is where the yo-yo effect happens. You have been following a diet for 3 months, restricting, feeling super hungry and the result is great. You have lost 10 kg, you feel light, feel healthier and you need smaller size jeans. Great. Now the diet is over and you can finally treat yourself with a doughnut. Tomorrow you are going to have breakfast with leftovers from the cake you made yesterday. What can go wrong, you are 10 kg less.
What is actually happening is that you are coming back to your previous eating habits of eating and everything comes back as it has never changed. So finally, you are left with the impression that diets suck and you are always going to be fat.
The problem is that those short-term plans are not teaching you how to change your own habitual eating patterns (diet) but instead are restricting you for a bit and you see quick results.
Long-term diet changes.
The other problem is when people decide to change the way they eat and go for common, paleo, or plant-based diets. They feel great, and suddenly this becomes the ultimate diet to follow and spread. Well, let’s say you felt great after you started to eat plant-based food. Maybe you didn’t have enough vegetables in your diet before and that’s why it is working well for you. For now. You start to follow a carnivore diet and suddenly you have more strength and energy. Well maybe you didn’t have enough protein for your body`s demand before and the result is great. But for how long.
The ultimate case I am trying to make is that we should create our own diet, based on our body needs. And that requires a lot of factors. We must know our food tolerance. If our body can`t tolerate lactose we should not have lactose in our diet. If we can’t tolerate gluten, well, gluten-free then. if we cannot run very well with carbs, then more protein and fats in our diet. Once we acknowledge how our body feels towards different food, we become aware of the way we eat and then we create our perfect diet, which we follow all life. Not because we should. But because we want to do so. Just like the perfect morning routines that we have created.
The easiest way to get awareness is first to have a baseline of our habit of eating. And here the tracking comes in handy. I know, it is tough and frustrating, but, let me explain.
By tracking I do not mean to be fanatical about it and count every single gram. By tracking i mean to try to see for yourself how exactly you eat on a daily basis and to try to pay attention to how you feel after a certain type of food. And once you see how you tend to eat, then you can start to make changes. This is how I become aware.
The owner of the fast-food shop I worked at, was very kind and generous and wanted us to feel comfortable. So, he always provided us with something sweet to treat ourselves. Chocolate, cookies, sometimes a whole cake. I thought I was pretty aware of the way I eat and didn’t think that just tasting a small piece could be a huge impact until I started tracking for a week. I found out that I was eating at least 300 calories worth of sugar every day.
This is why I highly encourage you to try tracking for a week or two and see for yourself how you tend to eat. You may find some pretty interesting results. For your convenience, I have created a spreadsheet (listed below), with examples that helped me gain awareness. But you can choose to track however you want. You can be very specific, or just roughly write down the type of food, you had for every meal. The goal s to list everything and be honest. No one is going to evaluate the way you eat.
Don’t judge yourself, become aware, and make the right changes.
Check out Episode 9 of Fit Life Radio, and learn more about diets and how to create your own one.