In the course of a day at work, my boss was telling me about her decision to start the State of Slim Diet and another coworker was telling me about her decision to start doing the macro diet. It had me thinking, “am I missing something? Should I try some type of ‘diet’ or ’lifestyle’ change with food?”
Forget the Diet
If you’re not following a particular diet, you might actually be doing it just right. Registered Dietician Kristi Rolfsen recommends what she calls “intuitive eating.” According to Rolfsen, “I focus on food that energizes me and keeps my body happy.” That means incorporating fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, healthy fats, and whole grains. It also means she doesn’t have to follow any strict rules that come with most diets.
“Sorting through diets is confusing,” says Rolfsen. “We see the latest diets all over, from TV commercials to our Facebook feeds.” Then, as she points out, there’s all that conflicting information out there. She likes to point out that if there was one particular diet that worked, there wouldn’t be a need for so many diets to exist in the first place.
Now, you should talk about diet with your healthcare provider, especially if you have a health condition. Then, you may want to avoid certain foods or maintain a particular diet.
Lifestyle Changes Over Dieting
Diets can be strict – and restrictive. “Motivation is maintained through the physical results one might see in the mirror,” says Rolfsen. “A dieter might limit foods that they perceive as bad. These restrictions are hard to maintain over a long period of time and may lead to binge eating and feelings of failure and guilt.”
That’s why Rolfsen recommends lifestyle changes over dieting. “It is best to make small changes over time to build lasting behaviors,” she says. “A commitment to a healthy lifestyle involves building a positive relationship with food. Take weight loss out of the equation and focus on how foods are making you feel. Focusing on what you can have increases your options, which vastly increases your chance of success.”
Rolfsen notes that changing food habits takes time and it won’t be a quick fix. If it is, it’s probably too good to be true. “Focus on how food makes you feel, listen to your hunger cues, and all the foods you can have.
Tips for Those Who Do Feel the Need to Diet
If you are looking to a particular diet to help you with your weight loss goals, it can be really hard. As summer approaches, more and more people are going to be dieting. If you’re one of them, here are two strategies from Rolfsen that can help you stick with it:
- Make sure the diet is something you will enjoy. “Food is only one part of our lives. It can be difficult to keep up if you’re irritable or skipping out on social events because you’re worried you’re going to fall off the wagon,” says Rolfsen.
- Have a support group – maybe someone who will do the diet with you. “If you don’t know anyone, there are many groups to join on social media,” suggests Rolfsen. “Social support provides encouragement, accountability, and a way to find and share new ideas.”
Also, emotions can affect the way we eat. “When we’re stressed, bored, or tired, we tend to reach for the first thing we can find, and it’s usually not the healthiest choice. These mindsets cause us to make impulsive decisions.”
So, Rolfsen recommends you take a moment to pause, “and ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you actually hungry or are you feeling stressed or bored? If you are hungry, eat!”
She recommends keeping convenient, healthy snacks available that can be easily grabbed.
If you’re just eating because you’re bored, “think of something else you can do to fill your time. Take a walk, call a friend or read a book. Doing an activity or something you enjoy will shift your focus away from mindless eating.”
Eat Like a Registered Dietician
Ever wonder how a registered dietician eats? Well, here’s how Rolfsen does it:
“I start each week by planning what I’m going to have for breakfast, lunches and snacks. Convenience is key, so I make what I can ahead of time. For breakfast, I rotate between Greek yogurt, oatmeal, or overnight oats. I always top these options with fresh fruit. For lunch, I might have mixed greens with a lot of veggies, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and croutons or make a batch of quinoa salad to have throughout the week. Of course, leftovers from dinner are always easy! Snacks usually involve a fruit or vegetable with a cheese stick or nuts or a granola bar.”
Rolfsen says a little bit of planning in advance saves her from making impulsive decisions.
No matter how you eat, remember that food is fuel, and that moderation is key. If you need help figuring out what meal plan is right for you, we encourage you to attend a 9health Fair with a nutrition screening – you can find that list here!