There’s no doubt about it – 2018 was the year of the keto diet. Other popular diet trends included low FODMAP, intermittent fasting and veganism. And as the world turns over a new leaf and welcomes 2019, you might be wondering which of these ultra-popular diets could help you *finally* achieve your health and weight loss goals this year. And that’s why I’m here to help – but you might be surprised by my opinion.
As a dietitian, I’m not a fan of diets. By definition, the Oxford Living Dictionary states that a diet is “A special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”. And if weight loss is your goal, that sense of ‘restriction’ is one of my pet peeves.
You see, restricting the foods you love and enjoy fuels the never-ending dieting cycle. You know what I mean – you tell yourself you can’t have chocolate, so all of a sudden chocolate seems irresistible, and after a few days of torturous deprivation, your willpower finally gives out and you eat a whole family-sized block of chocolate in one sitting. Sound familiar?
Instead of restriction and going cold-turkey, what I think is far more important is that you slowly instil healthy habits, one at a time, to gradually morph your lifestyle into a sustainable, healthy way of living. Finding what sticks is something that’s unique for everyone, but there are a few key things to keep in mind. So, without further ado, here’s my top five tips on finding the perfect “diet” that works for you.
Forget about a quick fix
Just like you can’t build a house overnight, you can’t build a healthy lifestyle in the blink of an eye, either. So, give yourself permission to work on your habits over time, and focus on long term progress rather than short term perfection.
Don’t cut out whole food groups
The second a wellness guru or Instagram celeb tells you that you can’t eat bread, that you should give up dairy or that eating meat is bad, run the other way. The truth is, each and every food group is there for a specific reason – and you need all of them to reach your daily nutrient needs. Obviously, this is different for those people with serious food allergies and intolerances.
Suit your likes and dislikes
Hate broccoli, but love spinach? Despise bananas, but love mangoes? Does your stomach turn at the thought of canned tuna, but you love a fresh fillet of salmon? This is all A-Okay by me. Enjoying your food is super important if you’re going to stick with it long run, so don’t waste your time (or your taste buds) on foods you just can’t stand. Hey, even I have foods I wouldn’t put on my plate if you paid me (seriously, mushrooms – gross!).
Enjoy food mindfully
Put away your phone, switch off the TV and close your laptop screen. When you’re eating, take the time to be present in the moment and appreciate the look, smell, texture and taste of every mouthful – as well as all the effort that went into preparing it. It will help you tune into your hunger and satiety cues, which will do you a world of good in the long run.
Don’t spend extortionate amounts of money
Regardless of what your personal trainer, next door neighbour or best friend tries to tell you – please rest assured that expensive powders, potions and superfoods are not necessary for good health. You really can get all of the nutrition you need from simple, everyday foods. In fact, some of the world’s healthiest foods are also the most humble and cheap – so here’s to bringing it back to basics and putting more money in the piggy bank!
Read more stories like this: Why this dietitian wants you to ditch Bulletproof Coffee. Plus, It’s time to give up your keto diet.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.