Anyone who I have had a nutrition appointment with or have spoken to me about my own nutrition should know that I have quite a problem with the word ‘diet’. Let me tell you why. When someone says they are on a diet, they are looking for a temporary fix for something that requires more knowledge and understanding. They follow fad after fad inevitably falling off the wagon when results aren’t instantaneous. Being on a diet suggests that the diet itself will eventually end and old habits will begin to creep back in. They are a short-term fix. Diets can be too restrictive and built around false premises. Nutrition is all about optimally fueling the body.
Years ago, when I decided that I wanted to lose weight and become stronger, motivated by the desire to perform as a coach and in sport to the best of my ability, I came to the realisation that I was not on a diet. Rather it was my new lifestyle. My knowledge of nutrition wasn’t terrible to begin with, but I definitely had much more to learn. I wanted to make the correct decisions for healthy and sustainable nutrition.
I have seen numerous instances where people try to change their routine nutrition and it inevitably finishes after a certain period. Obviously, this is not the case for everyone. “Falling off the wagon” is a result of multiple variables. One primary factor is the reality that many go into diets over-committed. These people partake in a fad diet, start cutting out foods they ‘have heard’ make you gain fat and ultimately tend to give up after days, weeks, or months. This way of dieting is setting yourself up for failure.
Here is what I did differently and helped me to make a lasting change. I educated myself through nutrition modules I was studying in university and researched in my spare time. I came to understand what I was putting in my body and what benefit, or lack thereof, it had. I was then fortunate enough to study nutrition and become certified. Not everyone will have the time or means to do this of course, but there are lots of resources that can be explored in the time it takes to scroll through your Instagram feed or catch up on the latest Netflix series.
Nutrition is completely individual. I cannot remember how many times I have told someone either in coaching or nutrition that ‘it depends’, but it really does. Look around when you next go to the supermarket. Each person will be of different body shape, size, gender, age, will have different medical issues, activity levels, beliefs, allergens, the list is endless.
‘Diets’ will produce results, that’s what they’re designed to do, but the majority of time they’re not sustainable and you’ll have to repeat. A healthy lifestyle is making the better nutritional choice 80-90% of the time and allowing yourself to enjoy food without completely restricting options.
If you do it right once, you won’t ever have to do it again!
Some basics which we need to follow in order to maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle;
- Eat nutritious wholefoods (foods with minimal ingredients in, often just one) 80-90% of the time,
- Avoid processed foods high in sugar and/or trans/saturated fats,
- Include a rainbow of fruit and vegetables within your diet to ensure you’re reaching your micro-nutrient (vitamins and minerals) recommended daily intake,
- Find a healthy balance between your macro-nutrient (carbohydrates, fats, protein) intake.
There are many resources available online to make your life easier via nutritional advice. These could be a great place to start.
Caitlin is one of our expert corporate wellness advisors who has a specific interest in performance and nutrition.