Why Diets Don't Work and What To Do Instead!
One diet doesn't work for everyone. If it did, there would only be one diet, right?
Typically, when we hear the word "diet" we quickly think of a long list of foods we have to avoid. That's because this is how most "diets" work.
When I use the word "diet", I mean it to be "foods to be enjoyed because they support an individual's health." I don't mean it as a restrictive " you can't eat that" diet, or "you can only eat 1200 calories a day" diet.
Restrictive strategies set us up for failure in the long run. As a society, we've fallen victim to the diet mentality for way too long. Then when we fail, we blame ourselves because we couldn't stick with it. But it's not our fault! ANY restrictive diet will have a yo-yo effect.
When you deprive your body of the nutrition it needs, it keeps track. Once you go off the so-called diet, your body knows what it was lacking, and your willpower is just no match.
This is why overly restrictive diets don't work and can damage your health in the long-term.
So rather than restrict yourself with a fad diet, redefine your lifestyle.
One way to start redefining your lifestyle is to eat foods that nurture your health.
But what exactly are those foods?
There is a famous saying, "One person's food is another person's poison." While one food might be healthy for some, it might be disastrous for another. I'm the prototypical case for this!
Because I've had SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), I've followed the Low FODMAP diet, avoiding foods like apples, garlic or onions. While these are healthy foods, my body hasn't always been able to digest them. They caused gas and bloating, often leaving me with a belly ache.
This is why it's important to understand your unique body and know what food supports YOUR health and what foods don't.
One way to do this is by keeping a food journal!
Food journals can be helpful to track things like:
- How many fruits and veggies you're eating.
- Whether you're getting enough protein and carbs
- Whether you're consuming enough healthy fats (because we all need fats in our diet!).
But keeping a food journal is more than just writing down what you ate. Recording how you felt before, during and after you ate can also give you insight into delayed reactions or even emotional triggers.
Many of us are unaware of the correlation between food and symptoms like brain fog, headaches, and even mood swings! A food journal can help you become more aware of how different foods may be affecting you.
How To Keep A Food Journal
If you are a digital diva, you might want to use an app like MyFitnessPal. I've experimented with many of these kinds of apps and found MyFitnessPal to be a great free tool - if I only wanted to count calories.
But I no longer count calories. And there is no easy way in the app to record how a food made me feel, or add any other insights.
Simple alternatives are MS Word, Google Docs, Evernote, or even the Notes app on your phone.
Pro tip: If you choose this method, use the microphone button on your phone's keyboard to record your notes! You don't need to type a thing!
If you are an analog girl, which I tend to be, a simple pen and paper will do the trick! You can even get a pretty notebook for your food journal! These are my favorite!
What To Record In A Food Journal
Now that you've settled on a method for your journal, you'll want to record the following to get a comprehensive look at your health:
- How many hours did you get?
- How was the quality of your sleep?
- How did you feel when you woke up?
- What did you eat?
- When did you eat it (time of day)?
- How much of it did you eat?
- How did you eat before, during, after and later?
Supplements, Vitamins, Medications:
- What did you take?
- When did you take it?
- How did you feel before, during, after and later?
- How do you feel at different times of the day?
- Any correlation to the foods that you ate?
- Bowel Movements (poop is a huge indicator of your digestive health):
- Any correlatio n to the foods that you ate?
At the end of the day, or even the week, take the time to reflect over your food journal. This can be a huge eye-opener!
Are you seeing trends of what foods nurture your health and what ones might be hindering it?
Take note of any foods you may be lacking in your diet. Maybe you aren't eating enough protein or leafy veggies. A food journal can help you bring more awareness to your diet.
If any of this feels overwhelming, don't fret! I've created the Connect the Dots Challenge. It's is a 4-week guided exercise where I teach you, step-by-step and lead you through the process of diagnostic journaling. And the best part is that, it's free!
Hi, I'm Naomi!
I’m a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I help smart and savvy women who suffer from chronic stress, unexplained weight gain and burnout, breakthrough their healthy blind spots and relieve symptoms through natural healing with whole foods and by making lifestyle and environmental changes. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.