Your best friend is doing weight watchers, your neighbor swears by cutting gluten and dairy, your husband quit drinking soda, your coworker has gone keto, and your boss still has a grapefruit slice every morning.
They all swear theirs is the best diet, and maybe it works for them. But will it work for you?
Who’s right? What is the best diet?
Years ago, my diet was a cycle something like this:
Hear about a diet.
Wonder if this was the big secret, magical thing I was missing out on in life.
Look into it, only to find a complex system requiring a giant user manual, and/or the purchase of particular products.
Struggle with the “do nots.”
Struggle with eating enough to feel satisfied.
Feel guilty when I ate the “do nots.”
The emotional journey this caused made eating less pleasurable. And let’s be real, food is for pleasure as well as nourishment. When you add all that anxiety to eating, it really becomes a burden.
After awhile, all the guilt and overwhelming diet choices caused paralysis by analysis. Instead of starting another diet, I would do nothing.
I don’t want you to get stuck doing nothing, so let me do the analyses for you.
Why Certain Diets Work
The list of diets that work for folks is long. That doesn’t mean they’re all good, but the question remains, why are there so many different diets that can be successful for people?
1. You start paying attention to what you’re eating.
Regardless of the diet, being more aware of what you put into your body is a good thing. We often eat so absentmindedly, it’s hard to pinpoint where we’re going wrong, or to listen to our hunger cues.
2. Food quality goes up. Less junk, more real food.
With most diets, regardless of the details, whole foods are stressed — you’re not eating out of boxes and cans as much. That’s healthier overall, and also tends to be lower in calories. Which brings us to the next point.
3. You control food intake and feel more satisfied at meals.
When you’re paying attention to what you’re eating, and what you’re eating is higher quality food, it’s much more difficult to overeat. Not only is that healthier, but it’s the only way to lose weight. Meanwhile, your body learns to be more content and satisfied by these meals.
4. Exercise is often paired with diets.
Diet and exercise go hand in hand, as they should. When you start one, you usually attempt the other, too. It’s no surprise this would contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle with observable results.
As you may have already picked up on, the reason many diets can work is more about the fact you’re dieting at all than anything else. Just having a plan seems to be enough.
So Which Diet Then?
All diets have their pros and cons. Then add our complex lives, budgets, personal beliefs, etc… and you have a very unique situation.
So what’s the best diet?
One you'll stick with.
Because if any diet can work, as we’ve already seen, the missing factor is finding one that works for you long-term, no matter what’s going on in your life.
Diets that cut out major food groups, or restrict foods you’re otherwise ok with, or are too low on food intake, will all be harder to maintain.
If you have a hard time avoiding carbs that are offered at every corner, then maybe keto isn’t for you. (Seriously, have you been anywhere with food where there were zero carbs offered?)
If your favorite food is steak, going vegetarian probably isn’t wise. You can be healthy, lean, and strong on a plant-based or meat-based diet. It's a matter of being consistent and making sure you're eating the right balance of foods.
Any plan can work — the self-discipline is the hard part. So decide what changes will be easiest for you.
If you’re looking for a simple plan you can start at your next meal, check out this guide.
If you’d like more help, you can email me here.
In the meantime, take comfort in knowing there’s no one right way to eat. You probably won’t have to drastically change your eating habits to see a difference.