How to find the perfect diet for you – Part 1
One diet does not work for everyone. If it did, there would only be one diet out there… right?
Of course, there are hundreds of them. There’s information everywhere and dozens of people who can support that each and every one of these diet plans is the answer to your prayers – whether you just want to eat more healthily or lose a lot of weight.
Only you and I know that’s not the case, because we’ve been here before. More than once…
Why don't diets work?
There are lots of reasons diets don’t work. We’re all unique, and what is right for someone else’s body may not be right for you. That said, whatever diet you choose, the main cause for concern is usually that your new plan is too restrictive.
When your body feels threatened, it tries to protect you (bodies are brilliant like that). The problem is that your body doesn’t always understand what you’re trying to achieve, and it can go a little overboard.
When you go on a crash diet and try and significantly change how you eat overnight, you send your body a really scary message. It thinks you’re starving it. Your brain thinks you’ve lost the plot, and it goes all out raising the defenses to keep you alive.
Because your body thinks you’re at death’s door and isn’t convinced you know where the next meal is coming from, it tries to put measures in place to help you survive for as long as possible. So it stops burning fat and starts storing as many calories as possible to bulk up your energy (fat) reserves.
When you keep on reducing the number of calories you eat in a day, and you go below what your body needs to run itself properly, it gets even more resourceful and tries to find other things in your body it can burn for fuel. In an attempt to be helpful, your body starts cannibalizing itself, breaking down your muscles into energy it can use to keep you going.
Unhelpful, for sure.
Muscle loss is not a good thing. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate (and so the more efficiently your body burns calories). If you start to lose muscle, your metabolic rate will slow down, and this can mean weight loss stops, and when you come off your diet and start eating more, you will gain fat more easily.
I didn't know I was freaking my body out!
I know. It’s ok, you aren’t to blame.
If you’ve struggled losing weight before on a strict diet plan, here’s the deal…
It wasn’t your fault!
Restricting what you eat can hurt your body and set you up for failure in the long term. Any restrictive diet will have a yo-yo effect on your weight.
When you deprive your body of the nutrition it needs, it panics. It sends out all kinds of messages to try and get you to listen, and however much you try and ignore it, it will go from polite requests to full blown tantrums, and ultimately, your willpower is no match.
Diets don’t work long-term because you can’t keep depriving your body forever. It will eventually get what it wants and in the meantime you’ve just driven yourself crazy for no good reason.
Ok. So what am I supposed to do instead?
Let’s think about your current diet…
Did I say “diet”? I did, but I want to be clear. When I say “diet” here, I mean it in the “foods you enjoy every day because they fuel your body” context. I’m not talking about a restrictive “you can’t eat that” diet, “those are sins” diet or “you can only eat 1200 calories a day” diet.
What you want to achieve is a sensible, sustainable way of eating to feel better, look better, have more energy and lose weight for the long-term. We’re talking about finding foods – a diet – for you that doesn’t leave you feeling deprived or restricted, but is full of good foods that fuel your body. Most importantly, it doesn’t stop you having the things you really love.
The first step to doing this is to work out what you’re eating at the moment and how it makes you feel. The best way to do this is to keep a food diary.
What's a food diary?
Quite simply, you’re going to keep track of what you eat and drink and the effect it has on your body.
Research shows that being more aware of what you’re eating is an important factor in how successful you’ll be when you try and lose weight and improve your health. If you understand how different foods affect your body, mood and energy, it can quickly help you make better choices and find your perfect diet.
Whether you keep your diary with pen and paper or use an app like MyFitnessPal, pay attention for just a week or two to the foods that make you feel energized and those that make you feel bloated and tired.
This is a little experiment, so have fun with it. Be curious and not judgmental – you may find a food that is supposed to be healthy, makes you feel sluggish. That would be pretty interesting, wouldn’t it?
Understanding that you’re one of a kind can be a huge eye-opener when you discover the foods that work for you, and those that don’t!
Try keeping a food diary for a week and get curious about it. Have you found out anything interesting? Hit me up on Facebook and let me know how you’re getting on, ask for some support or find out what other women are saying.
A final note: always check with your doctor before making changes to your diet and/or exercise program.