Ask Dana: How do I know WHICH diet to follow and what will be the best for me and my personal goals?
This time of year it seems that everyone is either on a diet or talking about a new health trend. My goal in 2022 is to eat healthy and really focus on my health. But, how do I know WHICH diet to follow and what will be the best for me and my personal goals?
Jennifer Lewis, Orange County, California
Way to start out the year with a new focus on your health; you should be proud of your determination! You should also be proud that you are giving it some thought before jumping in to a new health trend or fad diet. As you know, there are a lot out there and not all are healthy and worth the effort put to follow them. Let me share a few red flags that you should be aware of before starting any new “diet” or health trend.
There are no evil food groups. Carbohydrates, fat, and protein are all part of a healthy diet and do not need to be eliminated from your daily intake. I’ll take this a step further – there are no “bad” or “good” foods. Everything can and should be enjoyed in moderation; often, a balanced approach to eating decreases binge eating and compulsive behavior around food choices.
There are no magical foods. Any diet that is promoting the magical powers of one food group or one food ingredient is probably trying to sell that magical ingredient. There are thousands of phytochemicals and nutrients in foods and it is the collective nature of those powerful molecules that leads to optimum health. It is noteworthy to say that there are some nutrients that can aid in individualized health goals but there is no magical “one size fits all” when it comes to nutrition.
You do not need to live hungry. Any meal plan that finds you starving by 3pm each day is most likely not the meal plan for you. This does not mean that you have to be “stuffed” but starving yourself does not lead to long-term weight loss or healthy eating. In fact, starving yourself can often prevent weight loss efforts from being successful.
Be aware that supplements are not well regulated in the US. Labels on vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements often boast confusing health claims. Buzz words like detox, proprietary blend, and superfood boost sales but often do not improve health measurements or goals. Be sure to look at the science behind a claim and even turn to a third party that aims to protect the interests of consumers.
It has become very difficult to decipher what diets and nutrition programs are ideal with the overwhelming amount of misleading posts on social media and conflicting messages in your daily news feed. The bottom line, if it seems a bit odd to you, it probably is. If it is hard for you to follow, it is probably not the right “diet” for you. If you are being promised a quick fix or fast weight loss, time to investigate further into the science. Instead, try to develop healthy lifestyle habits that are sustainable and help you achieve your goals. A registered dietitian or other certified health professionals can help guide you towards a healthy eating plan that makes sense for you and your individual goals.
Here at IDS we have several staff members that would be glad to guide you in the right direction; give us a call to start the year out with a healthy and sustainable plan!
Have a diabetes-related question? Submit your question to Dana and it could be featured on the IDS Diabetes Bites monthly newsletter!!
Dana is a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist and Registered Dietitian. She holds certifications in insulin pump therapy and obesity interventions for adults. Dana received a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago after receiving a Bachelor’s in Science with Honors at the University of Texas at Austin. After college, Dana served as an AmeriCorp volunteer on a variety of health education initiatives and played a key role in establishing the first school-based health clinic in the city of Chicago.