Except maybe for the weight you gained during the pandemic! What am I talking about? Starting a healthy diet!
I hate using the word diet because it is very negative. The word diet communicates a short term effort with a start date, an end date and a specific weight loss goal. Eating healthy is so much more than just weight loss. In fact, weight loss is a side effect of healthy eating. Healthy eating promotes a life full of good health. Good health means weight loss, a better mood, enough energy to get everything done, a strong immune system, the ability to focus for long periods of time and less stress.
As a Certified Health Coach and Holistic Nutritionist, I am often asked what is best diet plan for weight loss? The truth is the best diet plan for weight loss is the one that is personalized to you. Sure, people get results following a Keto plan, a subscription food plan or eating a Carnivore diet. The reason why is because any change to a current routine will result in weight loss. The key is to make sure it is a routine that can be followed long term and can be adjusted when your body changes (believe me, it will).
How do you find a personalized healthy eating plan? One way is to work with a Certified Health Coach.
FOCUS. It's a superpower.
In life, when we focus on something important to us, it becomes the center of our interest or activity. Focus refers to clear vision and implies an action or activity that brings it about.
We exert energy to attain focus on an object we're looking at or on a topic of interest.
When something is important we often assume focus will naturally happen or be innately there. We do not always think it is something we need to put effort into.
This is a big deal because the formula for attaining the life you choose requires the proper use of focus.
Let me help you focus to achieve your goals.
I offer a FREE 30 minute strategy session.
START WITH A FOOD AND MOOD DIARY
An exercise that I ask all clients to do is to analyze their current routine. For one week, keep a food and mood diary that tracks the food you eat, how you feel that day and your bathroom habits. Questions to ask yourself are:
Did I get gas, bloating or belching after eating?
Was I sluggish or tired after eating?
How were my emotions through out the day?
Did I sleep through the night?
How is my bowel movement? Do you have one at least once a day, every day? Is it well formed or loose? You can access the Bristol Stool Chart to rate your bowel movement by clicking here.
The answers will help identify food sensitivities, gut imbalances, blood sugar regulation issues, high cortisol, nutrient deficiencies or potential gut health issues such as IBS. It will also show overeating or undereating. A healthy diet helps the body maintain balance, which includes a healthy weight. Unfortunately, we are bombarded with images of what our bodies should look like everyday in the news and on social media. The images are normally unrealistic and can lead to a distorted body image, making it that much harder to maintain a healthy diet.
After tracking your routine for 7 days, see what trends emerge. The diary gives you clues about potential food sensitivities and gut health issues. Did you know if your gut is unhealthy, losing weight, having a strong immune system to avoid illness and not feeling tired all the time is almost impossible? The gut is responsible not only for digestion but the overall health of our body and mind.
Now that you have a record of how you normally eat, your mood and bowel movements, start to think about how what you would like to change first for better health. Some questions to ask yourself:
Did you eat something green every day? Eating something green everyday is a must for a healthy body and mind. Green foods contain Chlorophyll which is a very powerful source of antioxidants necessary for a healthy gut, detoxing the liver and may help reduce inflammation. (Source: VeryWellHealth)
How many vegetables or fruits did you eat each day? Americans are severely lacking in fruits and vegetable intake. A lack of fiber means our body cannot eliminate toxins from our body regularly. I recommend at least 9 servings a day.
What foods seemed to give your digestive system symptoms of an imbalance? Typical offenders are bread, pasta, corn, soy, eggs and dairy. If you noticed gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain, it is worth the effort to eliminate that food for 30 days. When the 30 days are up, reintroduce the food in at least 2 meals in one day. Then don't eat it again for 3 days. The reason is that a sensitivity may occur up to 72 hours after eating the food.
Are there specific days when eating is a hassle? Are you booked with meetings, carpooling the kids and generally overwhelmed on specific days of the week? Knowing the days that are the most difficult for you to eat healthy helps you find an alternative plan that doesn't involved processed food or take out.
What amount of time does your schedule allow for planning and cooking something healthy? If the only time you have is on the weekend, then you need to schedule the time on the weekend to plan healthy meals, maybe cook a few dinners that can be heat and eat as well as lunches or maybe ask for help during the week from other family members. When healthy eating is a priority, it will happen.
HOW TO CREATE A PLAN TO CHANGE
The questions above help narrow down where to focus. The number one mistake most people make when changing their routine is making BIG changes (such as throwing out all the snacks in the house) or a lot of changes all at once. They become disappointed and frustrated when they can't follow the new routine they created. Most of the time, the new routine is abandoned and feeling like a failure happen. For effective change to happen make sure goals are:
Achievable by being broken down into small action items
Able to be measured
Can be followed for a very long period of time
Once you've identified what you want to change and how you are going to do it, researching how to change will help. Using our example at the beginning of this post of starting a healthy diet, some ideas to research may include:
Healthy foods for weight loss
Healthy foods to eat to lose weight
Healthy meal prep ideas
How to eat healthy on a budget
Healthy grocery list
However, researching a specific goal can easily be overwhelming. There is a lot of conflicting information and many people who want to sell products or services. The best way to handle this is to avoid information that:
Seems too good to be true
Is not linked to a reputable source
Requires buying something to learn more
Does not provide the expertise of the person supplying the information
HOW TO START A HEALTHY DIET
You've done the tracking, you know your goals and did some research, now how do you start a healthy diet? There are two common areas for all of us to focus on.
DRINK MORE WATER
A healthy diet is more than just food. Water is a huge part of a healthy diet because 70% of our body is water. When we don't drink enough water, every single day, we can easily get sick, gain weight and have constipation. We are dehydrated every day. How much water should I drink a day? A great rule to follow is half your body weight in ounces every single day. If you weigh 150 pounds, that is 75 ounces per day.
Why does dehydration make us more prone to sickness? Our nasal passages are the first line of defense against viruses that can enter our body. When the nasal passages are dry, the virus can enter the body and we get sick. When we are hydrated, the nasal passage is moist and it can do its job protecting us against viruses.
Why do we gain weight when we are dehydrated? It is very common to grab a snack when we are dehydrated. We are disconnected from our body due to the distractions around us every minute of the day. Before grabbing a snack, drink a glass of water. Wait 10 minutes. If you still need to eat something, eat it. If you no longer want the snack, you were simply thirsty.
Constipation is very common! About 16% of all adults in the US suffer from it and, if you are over 60, 33% of adults suffer from constipation. (Source: NIH) Drinking water is one way to promote more frequent bowel movements. About 75% of poop is water! Now you know why staying hydrated is so important. Without enough water in our body, it is hard for the colon to move poop out of the body.
EAT MORE FIBER
American adults only eat about 10-15 grams of fiber a day, while the USDA recommendation is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. (Source: Harvard Health) Fiber is extremely important for weight management, excreting toxins out of the body, regulating blood sugar levels and preventing heart disease. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Finding what high fiber foods work for you can be the tricky part.
This is where paying attention to the body's reaction to food really helps. If you have gas, bloating, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea or abdominal pain, your body is telling you that something you ate is not working for you. While the guideline of eating more fiber is a good one for every adult, what foods you get it from is key.
Making long lasting changes is a process that takes time. Some research shows it can take as short as 21 days or as long as 60 days for changes to become part of a new routine. Getting some help by working with a Certified Health Coach can help clarify your goals and create a path that is easy to follow.
Keeping a food and mood diary helps identify areas for change. When planning to change a current routine, make the changes small, measurable and easy to fit within your lifestyle for a long time. Research can support a change in routine but be careful about the sources you rely on for information.
What do you have to lose? Let me know by leaving a comment below.