You snap out of your Pinterest scroll trance when your eye starts to twitch from the glaring smartphone light and utter exhaustion. You’re ready for bed and yet too tired to get off the couch. Then, you realize that it’s 2 hours past your bedtime…
127 minutes ago you were only curious about the keto diet. But then you found yourself jumping from one diet article to another. As you skimmed each of them, you felt yourself wavering between excitement and angst.
All of the promises about this or that being the “best diet” left you tied in knots as everything seems right and wrong, all at the same time.
Let’s be honest. You’re swimming in a sea of conflicting diet information. And, even if your 411 is coming from incredible sources that are reliable, they’re saying the exact opposite things.
It’s completely frustrating. It leaves us overwhelmed, and we often end up stuck in all-or-nothing eating.
IS THERE A BEST DIET FOR YOU?
Now, let me be clear–I use the word “diet” loosely. I’m not necessarily referring to shakes and pills or programs with little matching containers. I’m referring to the dictionary’s version of a diet, which is “a way of eating.”
We all have a diet, even if we’re not dieting at all. See? It’s the way that you eat consistently.
And when it comes to different eating styles–or diets such as paleo, low carb, clean eating, etc.–all of these have great potential possibilities for your health. However, if something is impossible for you to stick with on a consistent basis, it is not the right diet for you.
There are two very important factors to consider when you’re choosing the best diet for you. Let’s take a look at them so that you can make a mindful and educated choice!
Diet factor #1: Consider your preferences.
What you like is actually a really, really (did I say, really?) important consideration. Because if you don’t like the how or what your diet plan prescribes, you’re not going to be able to stick to it!
If you have to choose between eating smaller portions of really rich foods or larger portions of lighter foods, which would it be? Would you rather eat small frequent meals or larger more satisfying meals? These are both two completely valid options that, if based on your preferences, are totally awesome options for you.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you prefer protein, carb, or fat-centric meals? Or do you prefer a balanced way of eating?
- Do you like animal products? Or is a vegetarian or vegan style of eating more suitable for you?
- Do you like quick meals? Or do you prefer to prepare meals at home?
- Do you enjoy tracking what you eat? Or do you get excited about a more intuitive approach?
Your answer to these questions is where your best “diet” starts! If you don’t know what your preferences are, you’re going to end up choosing the wrong thing and (here’s the clincher) assume it’s all your fault. Not cool.
Diet factor #2: Consider the possibilities.
Did you realize that you can actually change a “diet”? Gasp! You 100% can look at a diet plan and decide to swap out parts and pieces just like a capsule wardrobe and still be successful. And…maybe even more so!
Because, if it’s not sustainable, if it’s not something you like (remember point #1), you’re probably going to stick with it for about as long as your kitchen sink stays empty.
What are your available time, energy, and resources?
You may have a desire to cook all of your meals at home, make sauerkraut, and cut your veggies into chef-worthy dice.
But, if you’re running a household with children, working a side-hustle, volunteering at your church, and trying to keep your mental health, it’s probably not a realistic expectation for you, in this particular season.
Rather than feeling like you can’t do anything at all, you can decide to do something that fits…
Maybe you decide that you really want to focus on eating more whole foods, and yet a clean-eating diet sounds like a fairy tale. So, you decide to start with a wholesome breakfast. Then, once you’ve nailed that, you’re going to work on 3 dinners a week, and then tackle snacks, and finally lunch.
Maybe you decide that you want to start lifting weights, but all the plans you see make you feel like you’d need to put a cot at the gym. So, you decide to make an executive decision and just do 2 workouts a week.
Are these the “ideal”? Actually, yes, because you’re getting it done!
What are your financial resources?
Can you afford to buy all the foods on the diet plan? Is there equipment or a membership to buy that would require a second mortgage on your house? These are all things to consider.
It doesn’t mean it will be this way forever.
But, unless you take an honest assessment of where you are, you’re going to end up super-frustrated. You’ll commit to something that is virtually impossible for you and then think you’re a diet failure when you can’t seem to swing it.
Discovering your best diet
Once you think about these things, you’re one step closer to identifying your best diet!
Maybe you like…
- Richer meals that are smaller in portions.
- Larger portions of lighter foods.
- Lighter meals throughout the day.
Put the parts and pieces together to construct what is doable and desirable for you–and what you can consistently follow for the rest of your life.
See this as the END result and the 80% that you’re aiming for.
Let’s say you’ve decided that you like to eat mostly clean foods, meaning not really processed foods, in moderate meals throughout the day.
You don’t want to have too many sweets and treats and fried foods. This is going to be your 80%. The 20% is your allowance for when life happens.
Maybe you decide that you’d like to listen to your hunger and fullness signals and not be dictated by any sort of eating schedule… That’s your 80%.
We cannot expect to do any one thing perfectly. Giving yourself permission to not do so is going to exponentially increase your rates of success. That 80% is your end goal.
Reaching your ideal diet goals
Let’s say there are two dozen steps between today and the future goal. What is ONE step of 24 that you could take this week to get you a little bit closer to that desired end result?
Focus your energy there.
This is the exact pattern that you’ll take to reach your ideal diet and dietary success.
Is it going to look like your best friend’s diet? Probably not. Or the girl who sits on the bike next to you at the gym? Nope. Pretty unlikely.
Are you going to find your diet in a book on a shelf at the library or the bookstore or on a Kindle? Probably not.
And that’s totally cool because God made you unique. Until we stop trying to fit ourselves into someone else’s box, we won’t be able to live to the potential that He has for us.
He doesn’t give us directions that are super-clear because He wants us to reach out to Him on a consistent and regular basis for help. There are things He knows about you that you don’t!
He knows your certain genetic disposition–you may have a family history of disease that could be prevented or treated by choosing certain dietary interventions. The Holy Spirit can lead you in that direction. Talk about a Biblical eating plan!
Then…you don’t have to worry if you don’t fit into a diet box or if you can’t wear a diet label such as a paleo, a vegan or an intuitive eater.
When a news program, magazine article, or Facebook post shouts that you’re doing the exact wrong thing, you know in your heart of hearts that you’ve prayed about it.
You’ve looked at what’s realistic and possible in your life, and you’re taking small, consistent steps to get there. Talk about weight loss motivation!
I hope that gives you peace. I hope that helps you discover what your best diet is… and that embracing it is going to give you a lot of peace and freedom.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.