What’s The BEST Diet?

whatisbest

So you’ve decided you want to lose weight or to change your lifestyle and do what’s best for your health. Hurrah! Good for you. You feel ready, motivated and focused.  All you need now is a plan.  So what do you do? You do what any sane person with a computer and an internet connection does. You research, like a champ.

Initially you’re thinking about following a low fat diet, because you’ve heard that fat is pretty bad for you.  But wait. You find some pages saying it’s NOT the fat thats the problem, its the sugar.  According to some articles, sugar is ‘toxic’ and toxic sounds, well…pretty horrendous. So, you think, OK, no sugar.  That’s fine, you’ll just do low carb instead…(or maybe you should do low carb AND low fat just to be on the safe side hmmm).  But then (side thought) there’s your friend June, who’s a vegan.  She says that being vegan is a great way to be healthy and lose weight, and she looks great. But a vegan diet has lot’s of carbs. And carb’s are supposed to be bad. Right?

And so it goes on.

You read things about the health benefits of paleo, vegetarianism,  ‘eating clean’, low carb, low fat  and veganism. Articles about supplements, hormones and pills for weight loss. You look at all these things, and you read, and you read, in an attempt to get to the bottom of it all. And your head starts to spin. And you just feel, well, unsurprisingly confused.

So you give up. Or maybe you pick one and follow it for a bit, but you can’t make it stick. Annnd THEN you give up.

But actually, the fact is, that no matter how many people tell you their diet is best and that it works for them (and therefore should work for you), there is no one ‘right’ way to eat. There is no single fool proof diet that works for everyone.

We are all very individual.  We have different body shapes, sizes, food preferences and intolerance’s, not to mention susceptibility to weight gain! All thrown in with a mix of energy expenditure, priorities, beliefs, budgets and goals (to name but a few).  Can you imagine just ONE dietary approach fitting with all these differences to keep everybody ‘healthy’? I can’t.

So instead of immersing yourself in the troubling culture of of ‘nutritional one-upmanship’ (i.e. the ‘my diet is ‘healthier than your diet’ drama you see online) and worrying about whether one particular macronutrient is ‘good ‘ for you or ‘bad’ for you, Stop for a moment and consider yourself and your health as a whole.  It’s not just about the diet, it’s about your whole lifestyle. Your mental as well as your physical well being.

You can be a healthy, vegan, vegetarian, low carber or paleo (for example).  Just like you can be ‘unhealthy’ and eat these diets too.

Fine. You say. But how do you know what’s right for you?

 

In my opinion, the best diet FOR YOU is one which:

 

Is nutritionally complete 

That is, it contains all the energy, vitamins, minerals & fibre you need for good health.

Doesn’t ban foods you love & includes food you enjoy eating 

Food is there to be enjoyed! If you don’t like the foods you’re eating, how are you going to keep it up? If you outright ban foods that you love, your diet is destined for failure.  Are you really never ever going to eat something you really enjoy ever again? No cake? EVER?! A dietary change shouldn’t be associated with guilt when you eat a specific food or have the occasional indulgence.  Instead, it should promote balance, wellbeing and a healthy relationship with food.

Isn’t unrealistic or just for weight loss

If you’re aiming to improve your health or lose weight you need to be in it for the long haul.  Strict and extreme diets for rapid weight loss are unsustainable.  You might lose some weight in the short term, but keeping it off is unlikely.

Contributes towards your goals

If your looking to maintain your weight, your diet should be energy neutral. If you’re aiming for weight loss, it needs to create a calorie deficit and if  you’re aiming for weight gain or increased muscle mass, you need to have a calorie surplus. You get the picture. (If your interested in why calories matter you can read a great article from Evidence Magazine about it here).

Takes into consideration any health problems you have 

e.g Diabetes or coeliac disease

Fits with your budget

Can you think of any others for this list?

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15 Responses

  1. Carole
    January 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hola Helen!!

    Another great article, especially the bit about including the foods you love! I’m fed up reading about quick weight loss plans – I know all about calorie in v calorie out and even I get tempted by the rhetoric when I know better!!

    Thanks for reminding us all that eating healthily really isn’t difficult but it is essential

    • helen
      January 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      No worries Carole! Glad you enjoyed !

  2. Carole
    January 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Sorry, i was a bit quick on the old return key!

  3. Carly @ Fine Fit Day
    January 29, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Rational, intelligent post about diet! Woo hoo!! ;) Seriously – “diets” have become the new politics or religion.

    I have a question for your ask an RD series – I’d love you to write a post about salt, specifically why someone with normal (or even slightly low) BP and no family history of HBP or cardiovascular disease, should avoid salt. (I’m asking for a friend, of course. A friend who loves salt).

    • helen
      January 30, 2014 at 12:01 am

      Aww thanks Carly! I can certainly write a post about salt :) I’l pop it on my list!

  4. Fiona MacDonald
    January 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Hi! I just started following your blog, and I’m already obsessed with it! I am a Diabetes Educator and get this ‘diet’ question all the time and I’m so glad you said out loud what I’m always trying to get across! GREAT article!

    • helen
      January 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks for reading Fiona! I’m glad you enjoyed it :)

  5. Jane
    April 16, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for this article – happy and light.
    I’m on a medical high fibre low fat diet which many people comment on or disagree with (carbs etc) but its worked for me and I’ve got below the target my doctor set which has taken me out of being in risk of getting diabetes and reduces my risk of getting another horrible disease that’s in our family. So yahoo sucks to anyone who tells me its wrong. For me – its right! :D

    • helen
      April 17, 2014 at 1:09 am

      So glad you have found something that works for you Jane! :)

    • helen
      April 17, 2014 at 1:09 am

      So glad you have found something that works for you Jane! :)

  6. Helen
    July 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Just found your site today and love this article! There are so many different diets out there (I’ve seen one on instagram where people are eating 30 bananas a day!) and it is confusing. I’m using myfitnesspal at the moment as tracking calories seems to work best for me and is helping me make better food choices (though there’s still the odd piece of cake or chocolate in there too!). I’m off to explore the rest of your articles…

  7. steve
    March 06, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I’d add that it should be compatible with your time, skills and hopefully your family. I’m a near vegan vegetarian (I have honey and an occasional yogurt or skyr), and my wife is a dedicated omnivore. Both of us are happy with our choices and don’t worry about the other, but both of us need time time and skill to cook.

    a mixed marriage

    • helen
      March 07, 2015 at 9:06 am

      A good addition Steve! SO right that it need’s to fit into our schedules & priorities in order for us to find it sustainable :)

  8. scallywag
    May 19, 2015 at 3:21 am

    I would add also reasonably scientifically sound! Nutrition science doesn’t know everything; but it does know some things. Make sure you’re getting your information from sources with degrees, sources with proof

  9. Besma
    July 19, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Helen,

    Really enjoyed your reasoning in this article – diets should be seen as long-term food choices, hence why I’m always going on about mindful eating on my blog. Eat what’s good for you, fits with your diet, finances, and happiness. I think blanket terms often restrict people in an unhappy way, as they either feel like they’re quitting, or they can’t have other foods they want. I would probably add to your list considering others if you’re cooking for a family or anyone who has a more restricted diet, but that’s usually only on occasion!

    Besma (Curiously Conscious)

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