Should I Do A Diet? Here’s 5 Ways To Know If It Will Work For You
I own and operate a healthy meal prep company for a living, which means we have countless clients who are trying out diets, but we also have plenty of partners in the wellness community who are “anti-diet”. Since we make the food, and even accommodate to most diet trends, I always say, “we’re just the neutral food party”.
But what I’ve found is that we mainly have people, both professionals in the nutrition field and uninformed clients, who live on extreme ends of the diet spectrum. For some, it’s the only way, and for others, the diet culture is an abomination.
That would be okay – except all the above people have a voice on social media. Highly educated or not, everyone is an “expert” these days. So, with all the information streaming at the scroll of their thumb, everyone is asking themselves:
Should I do a diet?
Here’s 5 ways to know if trying a diet is the thing for you:
Side note: When I say “diet”, I am referring to:
- Caloric restriction (for weight loss purposes)
- Adopting a diet trend, like paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, etc.
- Any dramatic change in your regular eating habits
Other side note: Why did I write this?
With everyone hanging so heavily on the extreme side of the diet spectrum, we lose the point of doing a diet in the first place: to live a happier, healthier life. My mission is to encourage, educate and empower others to do just that… and it erks me when people convince others that diets don’t work, based off of their personal experience, or when people rely so heavily on bouncing from diet to diet, that eventually they develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
Back to the 5 ways…
1. Is your motive valid?
If you commit to almost anything for the wrong reasons, you will most likely fail. Your heart and mind have to be right in order to realistically commit to a long-term lifestyle change. Here are a few good and bad reasons to start a diet:
- Unhealthy comparisons to friends, coworkers or people on social media
- If you’re looking for a quick fix
- To make someone else happy
- To be generally healthier
- To increase a specific quality in your life, like sleep, exercise performance or energy levels
- To gain more confidence with the way you look and feel
The bottom line I’m getting at is that if you decide to try a diet, it has to be about you.
2. Do you have the right information?
If your answer is:
- “Yes, one of my friends is helping me” (and this person is not a Dietitian or Nutrition Specialist)
Then you don’t have the right information. But this is a quick fix! Most people make the simple mistake of trusting the first thing they hear, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t trust your friends, all I’m saying is do your research.
Luckily for you, I’ve written about a handful of diets at superfitfoods.co/blogs, and the world wide web has plenty of great information. Just check the references and make sure it’s factual.
3. Do you have a specific goal in mind?
Most people avoid setting specific goals out of fear of failure, or at least out of fear of their friends or family knowing they failed. The idea is if you don’t set a goal, then you can’t fail. But it’s important to remember that if your friends and family are also human, they’re going to fail at things too. And at the end of the day, your goals are about you, not them. Here’s a few examples of specific goals, and not-so-specific goals.
- I want to lose weight
- I want to sleep better
- I want to get stronger
- I want to lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks
- I want to fit into my 30” waste jeans from last year by September
- I want to sleep 7 hours uninterrupted
- I want to squat 200 pounds in 5 weeks
4. Will you hold yourself accountable?
This one is a little personal. As a former personal trainer and long-time fitness professional, I have encountered plenty of people who have tried to change their eating habits, only to give up because it “didn’t work for them”. Only to find out later that they didn’t follow the diet (whether it was a trend, like Paleo, or a calorie goal, like 1800 per day) and were sneaking in high calorie cheat meals that they thought weren’t a big deal.
This one is all about you and your integrity. In short, if you commit to a lifestyle change, be honest about your slip ups.
Here’s a few accountability tips:
- Tell one of your close friends and ask them to hold you accountable (not the one who will encourage you to slip up!)
- Post about it regularly on social media. You’d be surprised by the amount of support and encouragement you’ll receive
- Write down your goals somewhere you can see regularly
5. Do you have an exit strategy?
If you’ve successfully reached your goal by adopting a diet, then chances are you need to make an adjustment to the way you eat. Being keto, or paleo, or eating on a calorie restriction, are oftentimes not a sustainable lifestyle long-term (and possibly not healthy). I just couldn’t imagine going my whole life without carbs, or with only sweet potatoes. So if you’re being realistic, you are probably the same.
To create an exit strategy, you need to plan ahead. For example, if you decide to transition from being Keto (5% carb intake) to eating “normal” (around 50% carbs), then you need to add the carbs back in little by little. Some call this “reverse dieting”, and there are all types of ways to properly do it depending on what type of diet you are transitioning from.
Get with the professionals if needed. At Superfit Foods, we partner with the Dietitians of Palm Valley when we need to refer people out for specific recommendations.
If there’s any additional way we can help, please let us know! I will be writing a follow up to this article on “how to succeed on a diet”, and there are a few great resources below.