I just found out that March is National Nutrition Month (it feels like every month is natural something month, right?), and that works out perfectly because today I want to talk about nutrition and, more specifically, diet plans.
I’m not a dietitian, so I can’t create diet plans for people, nor can I say with any degree of certainty what kind of diet you should follow to feel and perform your best. I do want to share some tips, though, to help you figure out whether or not a particular diet is a good option for you to try.
There are so many different diets out there, and it’s easy to feel confused because there seems to be information backing up pretty much all of them. If you’ve recently heard about a specific diet and are wondering whether it’s a good fit for you, here are some questions that you can ask yourself. I touched on these in an Instagram post a while back, but I wanted to revisit and elaborate on them here:
Can I Follow This Diet Plan Forever?
Whether you’re interested in trying keto, Paleo, vegan, carnivore, or any other type of diet, this is one of the first questions I recommend asking yourself. Will you be able to stick to this diet, or will you go off the rails every weekend?
I especially recommend asking yourself this if your primary goal is weight loss.
Here’s the deal: any diet will help you lose weight if you’re eating in a calorie deficit. It doesn’t matter if those calories come from meat, plants, or doughnuts.
Think beyond your short-term goal of wanting to lose 10 pounds and ask yourself if this is a diet that you can sustain. If you can’t see yourself eating only plants or only meat for the rest of your life and want to go right back to your old way of eating once you lose the weight, extreme diet plans like these probably aren’t in your best interest.
Before I go on, I want to touch on the fact that some diets aren’t meant to be followed forever. Some plans, such as Whole30 or the autoimmune protocol, are meant to be temporary elimination diets with the goal of bringing back in certain foods once you figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.
If you’re adopting a specific diet knowing that it’s only meant to be short-term, this question doesn’t really apply to you. If you’re focused on weight loss or have other goals, such as purely aesthetic goals, though, I think it’s a useful starting point.
Do I Want to Do This Forever?
I also recommend asking yourself if you want to stick to a specific diet long-term. Maybe you can do it forever. Do you actually want to, though?
Will you feel satisfied and healthy eating a specific way, or will you feel deprived and left out watching your friends eat all the foods you can’t have? If this is the case and you’re not cutting out foods for health reasons, you might want to rethink adopting a particular diet.
Why Does This Diet Appeal to Me?
If you find yourself thinking that you want to try keto or gluten-free or any other diet, stop and ask yourself why it appeals to you in the first place.
Why do you want to try it? Is it because you’ve seen lots of impressive before-and-after pictures? Have you heard testimonials from people on the internet talking about how great the diet is? Have you done research (more on this in a minute) and decided that it seems like it might be beneficial to you?
There’s not a right or wrong answer to this question. You can embark on any kind of diet journey if you want, regardless of your motivations. I think it’s a good idea to question them, though.
Doing this can help you figure out if a diet is actually sustainable for you. It can also help you get to the bottom of why you’re dieting so you can see if there’s maybe something deeper that you need to work on.
Is This the Only Way I Can Achieve My Goals?
There are multiple ways to skin a cat, and there are multiple ways to achieve certain health or fitness goals. Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, or experience more mental clarity, there are lots of different ways of eating that can help you get there.
Don’t assume that you have to go to an extreme right away. If you’re thinking of trying a very restrictive diet, ask yourself if there’s a more moderate, flexible approach that might work better and be more sustainable for you.
Sometimes, strictness is the best way, but it’s rarely the only way, and it’s worth considering other options before diving headfirst into the most restrictive diet possible.
Is There Research to Support This Diet?
Finally, and most importantly, ask yourself what research exists to support this diet. I want to be clear, here, that “research” does not mean Netflix documentaries or anecdotes that you find on the internet or on Instagram.
I think these can be fine starting points. If a Netflix documentary is what first gets you interested in keto, cool. That shouldn’t be where your “research” ends, though.
If you develop an interest in keto (or any diet), do some more in-depth research and look at resources from fitness and nutrition experts (scientists, dietitians, doctors, etc.) who can give you their unbiased views and show you all sides of the issues.
I also think looking into the research behind a diet is important because it can help you to solidify your “why” for adopting a specific way of eating. If you know that there’s evidence to support a certain diet being beneficial for improved digestion or better exercise performance, you might be more inclined to stick to it. This, in turn, will help you see better results from it down the road.
Are You Ready to Take on a New Diet Plan?
There’s no shortage of diet plans out there for people to try, and a lot of them seem really great when you’re focused only on anecdotes or before-and-after pictures. Not every diet is for every person, though.
Before you embark on a new way of eating, I highly recommend asking yourself these questions to see if it’s actually a good fit for you.
Remember, too, that just because a diet has worked for you in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you now. We all go through different seasons of life, and the diet that worked for you as an athlete in your early 20s might not be ideal for you now that you’re in your mid-30s, for example.
What questions do you ask yourself before starting a new diet or sifting through various diet plans? Comment below and let me know!