NEW YEAR, WHO DIS?
Let’s Talk Diets
Hi everyone and welcome back to the Spice Girls Nutrition Blog!
We took the month of December off to get some much-needed R&R and spend time with friends and family. As all of you who are active on social media know, there are times when you just need to step away and be present with what and whom is around you! As health professionals, we always recommended online shutdowns from time to time.
As we enter the new year, many of us are deciding…”do I try to follow a new eating pattern? Do I just exercise more? I’ve heard dieting is just bad, so what should I be doing then?” We are all with you! The dieting world has good intentions and truly wants you to have positive results, however, much of it is based on financial gains. Buying supplements, getting gym memberships, subscribing to a new meal kit service or shopping at a specific store that only has foods “allowed on your diet.”
Well, I am here to tell you, dieting really comes down to eating patterns and overall lifestyle choices over a long period of time. Although I am going to discuss an article that ranks top “diets” and why they are the best, it’s important to consider why they are ranked at the top, and not get caught up in the brand name of the diet, who else practices the diet or other reasons why it may or may not be trendy.
This CNN article published yesterday, January 2, ranks 41 different diets based on 7 sets of criteria;
- How easy it is to follow (this is so key! How many people do you know who have done Paleo or Keto for like 2 days?!)
- Nutritional completeness
- Ability to produce short-term weight loss
- Ability to produce long-term weight loss
- Its safety
- Its potential for managing and preventing heart disease
- Its potential for managing and preventing diabetes
The panel included experts in;
- Heart disease
- Nutrition and diet
- Food psychology (love that this was included, as we know so much of success is based on mental decision-making and behavior change)
So who came out on top?? The Mediterranean Diet! What is it?
- This diet heavily focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils nuts and seeds with emphasis on extra virgin olive oil.
- Eggs, dairy and poultry are lightly consumed.
- It limits flours, refined sugars and meat, especially high fat, heavily processed meat such as sausage. Fish however, is a staple.
The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet tied for 2nd followed by the flexitarian diet in 3rd which is a plant-based diet that allows some meat, the brain focused MIND diet and Weight Watchers tied for 4th place.
Something important to note about these diets is that they don’t ELIMINATE any foods! They allow for flexibility and occasional indulgence! Dieting is not about cutting food groups or restricting fun treats. It’s about leaning into beneficial foods more often and leaning into “no benefit foods” less often, but not removing completely. What do I mean by “no benefit foods?” When I make decisions about what I am going to eat I usually ask myself these 3 questions and then come to a consensus…
- Does this food provide me any positive nutrition benefit? (Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals etc.) if it doesn’t, it is literally just going to only provide energy (calories) that encourage weight gain.
- If it doesn’t provide any positive nutrition benefits, does eating this food bring me any positive mental benefits like joy and happiness, or is it associated with a social event like a party or celebration? This might include a cake at a birthday party or your all time favorite treat like Oreos! Then I might say, OK no worries.
- Why am I eating this and will eating this make me feel empowered and free or stressed and guilty? If I feel the guilt coming, it’s just not worth the 3 seconds it’s in my mouth!
Now, this might seem a little intense, but it all happens very quickly in my head and you get used to coming to a consensus very quick. This is honestly the best way I know how to keep control, but everyone operates differently! We all have breakdowns and eat less nutritious foods because they are in front of us, or because they just bring us complete and utter joy, but if you feel consumed and overwhelmed by eating a cookie and anxious and stressed about the consequences, then it probably isn’t the right choice. If you aren’t even tasting what you are eating or being mindful of the enjoyment of it, then you really aren’t achieving anything positive, mental or physical.
Using diets as a tool to guide nutritious eating can be very helpful, but please don’t take them as the gospel! Here would be my 2019 diet tips if I had to give any;
- Listen to your body and make sound mental choices based in reality and knowledge of nutrition facts
- Limit eating when you aren’t hungry, and eat foods that POSITIVELY benefit you physically and/or mentally.
- Exercise often
- Focus on things OTHER THAN FOOD to address eating, not food itself
Cheers to a NEW YEAR!