What diet is best for me? Answer: No diet at all
Diet: “a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.”
Diet culture is particularly prevalent at this time of year. We are always looking for a quick fix to lose those pounds. There is always a new diet plan out there. A supplement which claims to be the answer to all your dieting prayers. But unfortunately these strategies rarely work in the long-term. So, this January, don’t get sucked into faddy diets and magic pills which don’t work and just aren’t sustainable.
But, if you do need to lose weight, whatever the reason – what is the answer?
The key to successful, healthy weight loss and keeping the weight off is to adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle which you can sustain in the long-term. This will not only help you to naturally reach your healthy weight but will also nourish and energise you. This may well involve investing more time in yourself, improving your digestion, dealing with stress and taking up exercise. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Avoid diet plans which claim to shed the pounds very quickly or offer meal replacement bars and shakes rather than real food. Also be wary of some expensive supplements and detox formulas for weight loss. Choose real foods instead.
For example, increase your antioxidant intake by eating a range of different coloured vegetables and fruits, include more cruciferous vegetables to support you liver function, and boost your protein intake by adding flaxseeds, chia seeds or nut butter to a smoothie.
Managing stress is also central to weight loss
Managing stress is one of the key components of a weight loss programme, although the most often overlooked. Many of us don’t even realise we are suffering with chronic stress, which can be both psychological and physiological (relating to the way in which your body functions).
Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels within the body resulting in weight gain, particularly around the middle. Excess weight around the middle has been shown to increase the risk of a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, strokes and high blood pressure. Therefore weight loss is not just about aesthetics. I will talk more about the effects of cortisol on weight and health in a future blog.
Exercise and other factors
Exercise is a vital part of any diet plan. My philosophy with exercise has always been to choose something you enjoy. Exercise, much like good nutrition, should become an enjoyable part of your normal daily life and not a chore. That way, alongside a healthy diet, you’ll be able to achieve and sustain the weight loss and health you are yearning for.
Other factors should also be considered, such as your thyroid function, blood sugar levels (predisposition to diabetes) and your sex hormone balance.
Whatever diet plan you choose, make sure you can sustain it, perhaps even enjoy it and remember, don’t put it off – now is always a good time to start.
Dr Sharon Pitt is a registered nutritionist at Nutrition First, with 18 years’ experience. Nutrition First is a small and personal nutrition consultancy providing expert nutrition advice, based on sound scientific evidence.
At Nutrition First we see patients with a whole range of conditions at all stages of life, as well as helping those who simply wish to maintain and optimise their health.
We can provide you with a tailored plan to help you achieve weight loss and good health. Contact us at Nutrition First to see how we can help you.