So you want to start a diet – that’s good news! Whether you’re motivated by looking great, feeling great, or simply conquering a challenge, taking responsibility for your health is always a good thing. If you’re like many people, you’ve tried to go on a diet at least once or twice in your life. Maybe you saw results, maybe you didn’t, but here you are again, looking for a strategy to reach your goals.
Looking at all the options out there of ways to lose weight, it can be overwhelming to pick the “right” diet when all of them claim to be the best. The fact is, there’s no perfect diet. There is no one way to eat right, exercise right, or lose weight. Our bodies are too unique for a one-size-fits-all recipe for success.
You’ll find your best results will happen when you honestly evaluate your body’s makeup, your lifestyle and health choices, and your commitment to reaching your goals, and pick a diet in the area where those three overlap. Before starting a diet, here are seven questions you can ask that will help you pick the right one for you.
1) Does this diet fit who I am?
In other words, know thyself. If you love to exercise, chose a diet that will fuel your hardcore workouts with healthy ratios of fat, carbs, and protein. If you’re always on the go and don’t have time to cook, you should avoid a diet that requires a lot of food prep. If you have a family and kids, think about picking a diet plan that will allow you to make changes your whole family can embrace instead of forcing you to cook separate meals for everyone.
2) Is this diet balanced?
Diets requiring you to eat disproportionate amounts of certain food groups tend to undermine your overall health, even if they do help you lose weight. Understanding the nutrition your body needs will help you lose weight in a healthy way, which will ultimately help you maintain your weight loss.
Meal replacement shakes can be a great way to ensure you get the vitamins, minerals, and superfoods your body needs to perform optimally.
3) Can I eat food I like on this diet?
It’s important to be both open-minded and realistic about this one. Of course you’ll need to make adjustments in your habits and choices when starting a new diet, but choosing a diet that requires you to make drastic changes in lots of areas can ultimately overwhelm and defeat you.
If you have a really big sweet tooth, stay away from a diet requiring you to drop all sweets for a diet that allows healthy sweets. It’s better to make small, incremental changes over a longer period of time than do something so completely new it requires more energy than it’ll be worth.
4) How flexible is this diet?
The more limiting and restricting a diet is, the more self-control it requires. And let’s face it – for some people, that level of commitment can be exhausting and ultimately you can wind up so discouraged you give up. It goes back to making small changes you can sustain. Maybe eventually you can embrace that super-healthy, clean-eating diet you aspire to, but start out taking small steps that direction instead of doing it all at once. A good diet is OK with moderation.
5) Will this diet tell me NO?
…however, there has to be a line somewhere. Some diets focus more on quantity over quality when in reality what you put in your body is (usually) more important than how much of it you consume. Look for a diet that while being flexible, also sets clear boundaries and gives good guidelines to follow when it comes to choosing the foods you eat.
6) Does this diet promote healthy eating habits?
Diets relying on highly-processed, synthetic foods aren’t doing you any favors in the long run. Instead of teaching you healthy eating habits like creating a balanced plate and eating regular meals, these diets help you lose weight without giving your body proper nutrition. Healthy diets help you learn how to say “no” to some foods while learning how to say “yes” to better foods.
7) Does this diet use a holistic approach?
A good diet will look at the whole picture of your health, not just the isolated component of the food you eat. Health and weight loss covers many interconnected subjects that can’t be separated. Just exercise or only dieting will never make you a healthy person. Even less tangible aspects of life like our emotional and spiritual health play a role in our physical well being. A diet that takes all (or at least most) of these other important components into account and helps you make better choices in all of them is the kind of diet you want to commit to.
As you embark on the journey of weight loss and dieting, don’t let the hype get to you. Take a step back, and really evaluate the diet you’re about to commit to. Ask the hard questions beforehand, and you’ll have answers to fall back on when the going gets tough and you feel like you.