The New Year is easily the most popular time for people to take on a new diet. The question is, which diet do you choose? They all sound so promising! Your cousin Cathy lost 20 pounds on the Keto Diet. Your neighbour swears that going gluten free helped her to shed the last 15 pounds. What about good old Weight Watcher’s? There are so many options, how are you to know which diet will work best for you? The answer is; you don’t know. But what I can tell you is they will all work if you follow them, consistently. But, there’s always a “but” isn’t there, it doesn’t matter which diet you choose it has to be realistic, sustainable and flexible for you to maintain results in the long term. Sorry, there is no quick fix, there is not an easily solution, no fairy dust here; but it doesn’t have to be hard either. You must be honest with yourself about what lifestyle changes you can maintain for a long period of time.
This doesn’t sound like rocket science, but this is the biggest hurdle most people face when it comes to weight loss. I’ve seen countless clients over the last 12 years as Registered Dietitian do the same thing. They take on a new diet that’s popular in the media, and they tackle it full throttle for a few weeks or months. They have great success! But then they hit a roadblock; it may be a financial road block (Ideal Protein anyone? So expensive!). It could be a mental roadblock like they realize they want to eat bread at some point in the future and gosh, that won’t put them into ketosis. It may be a physical roadblock such as hitting a plateau with weight loss despite still following their diet to the tee but now what do they do?
No matter how many carbs you cut out, no matter the amount of gluten-free whatever you eat or how few points you have to count; a diet must be realistic, sustainable and flexible. You need to be realistic about your goals. If you haven’t weighed 120 pounds in the last 20 years odds are that’s not a realistic goal for you. Set small goals first, like five pounds, and build on those small successes. Your lifestyle changes need to be sustainable. For example, instead of saying you’ll never drink again, why not make a goal to limit your alcoholic drinks to no more than one a week? Or just one drink at special events like weddings or birthdays. You have to find a way of eating that promotes flexibility. Allowing yourself to enjoy an ounce of chocolate once a day versus binging on a tub of chocolate ice cream while watching Grey’s Anatomy (it happens to the best of us) is much more conducive to weight loss or management.
Be honest with yourself. You must be able to live this way for the rest of your life. I don’t know about you, but the idea of never eating potatoes again, or (the horror) a donut, does not sit well with me. When we overly restrict ourselves, or label foods as “good” and “bad” we automatically set ourselves up for failure. When we cut out foods to the point where we’re no longer enjoying what we’re eating or spending exorbitant amounts of money on a diet it can’t be sustainable. It just can’t.
Red flags come flying at me when I hear a client say, “I can’t eat that” or something really crazy like “I don’t eat bread because, you know, it’s fattening”. Huh? All foods can fit. Unless you have an allergy or diagnosed intolerance, repeat after me: all foods can fit! All foods should be enjoyed, within moderation, and savoured with great abandon because this is life and yes you have goals, but you also have to live, and you want all your hard work to last. Your weight loss journey and your diet need to encourage you to eat foods you enjoy and allow you to reach and maintain your goals; now and five or 10 years from now. Be realistic, make sustainable changes that allow flexibility...and chocolate, there needs to be room for chocolate.
Author: Breena, Registered Dietitian