These days, the word ‘diet’ has a bad reputation. Some associate the term with a feeling of dread, and others accept it as an extreme measure to achieve their results. It doesn't have to be either one!
A diet can simply be a plan you're trying to stick to or a curated list of foods that work best for your specific needs. After all, the word is said to come from the Greek word “diaita," which means “way of life."
Not all diets are created equal, but even though there's no one-size-fits-all to nutrition, you have to find the right one for your needs. Working with a dietitian you trust can help you find that some can benefit insulin sensitivity, metabolism, and even your mental health.
However, even if you find the right one, sticking with these diets can be challenging! The good news is that it is possible to stick to health-promoting diets.
Read on to find out a little more about some diets people have the most challenging time sticking to, and learn some tips to stick to them.
These benefits can help anyone in their health journey—whether you have a chronic condition or simply looking to optimize your health.
To ensure you're making the best choices for your body, you have to be careful not to eliminate or add foods without consulting with a professional like a doctor, credentialed dietitian, or nutritionist.
While the following are popular diets, they can be pretty challenging too. Here's a little more about each one so you can see why!
The paleo diet, as well as the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet (a modified version of the paleo diet), are traditionally followed by those with chronic conditions such as (but not limited to) PCOS, endometriosis, autoimmune disorders, or a leaky gut.
The idea behind the paleo diet is to encourage people to eat whole foods that our human ancestors would have eaten in the paleolithic era (explaining the name).
On the paleo diet, you can eat foods such as:
The paleo diet suggests eliminating the following foods:
Research suggests that the paleo and AIP diets provide a variety of health benefits such as:
On the AIP diet, you’re encouraged to adopt a whole foods approach and consume anti-inflammatory foods. The AIP diet was created for people who have autoimmune conditions, as many find they react best to typically healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, and eggs.
While it is similar to the paleo diet, the AIP diet takes it a step further by discouraging the consumption of the following additional foods:
Research shows that this diet can improve autoimmune conditions (such as IBD) by reducing inflammation.
You can create any dish using paleo or AIP-friendly ingredients (including pizza!), making them a little easier to stick to.
On the keto diet, 60 to 80 percent of the calories you consume should come from fats (no restrictions on what type of fat), 10 to 30 percent from protein, and 5 to 10 percent from carbohydrates.
Usually, people can eat 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day on the keto diet, although many opt to keep that number under 20 for maximum health benefits.
Unlike the previous diets, there are no rules about what specific foods you can or cannot eat with keto.
However, because the range of how much carbs one can eat is so narrow, many people swap processed foods like bread for more whole foods such as vegetables and low-sugar fruits.
One thing to keep in mind is that everybody is different. It's especially true if you’re on the keto diet. You may want to play around with those percentages to find the specific percent to help you reach your health goal.
For example, if you’re looking to lower blood glucose levels on the keto diet, you may want to experiment with how different amounts of carbohydrates impact your blood sugar.
You can self-monitor your blood glucose levels using a continuous glucose monitor until you find the right amount and type of carbohydrates to help your blood glucose stay in your goal range.
Working with a dietitian can be especially helpful in this regard.
Some other diets that are less popular but still deserve a shout out, as they can help with specific conditions:
With what feels like a laundry list of rules, diets can feel difficult to stick with, even if they're to benefit a specific health condition.
However, you can make your diet enjoyable and realistic with the right tools and some planning. So, before you think about quitting, try putting these tips into action and reap those health benefits.
One of the most important parts of choosing and starting a diet is knowing your why, as it can be a big lifestyle change. Keep your health goals in mind, but remember there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to nutrition.
What dietary changes help you achieve your health goals may not be helpful for another. It’s all about personalized nutrition and making changes that are right for you and aligned with your goals.
Aiming to lower total carbohydrate intake to address concerns such as insulin resistance? A lower-carb eating style may be best. . Or maybe you have an autoimmune condition you want to improve. The AIP diet may help with that.
Even if they’re specific, write down your goals, like achieving a certain HbA1c level or lowering your LDL by a particular amount. If you’re working with a credentialed dietitian or nutritionist, discuss your goals with them.
It’s easier to stay on track when you can envision how the lifestyle change can help you achieve your health goals and thrive. Keep that vision in mind when you feel like quitting.
Doing so will switch your mindset out of scarcity mode and into a growth-oriented one. Instead of thinking of what you’ll be losing, like a specific food, focus on what you're gaining. You may gain benefits such as improved energy, healthy weight loss, or saying goodbye to food comas for good.
One of the biggest hurdles to sticking to a big lifestyle change is preparing your plan of what and when you'll eat.
Tack a list of foods you want to consume more of (along with meal ideas) onto your fridge or store them on your phone. Just keep them somewhere you look at regularly. This way, you don’t have to memorize each detail and can simply pull up the list when you’re eating out or grocery shopping.
Another way to use these guidelines would be to look at them when making dinner plans with friends or family members. Suggest a restaurant or cafe you know will have options that are aligned with your health goals. .
Another critical piece to sticking with a diet is understanding your eating habits and how they may sabotage your efforts to stick with your lifestyle change.
It’s important to remember that while reframing your mindset is helpful for a long term lifestyle change, it’s equally as important that you’re choosing dietary changes that feel sustainable to you. Part of doing that is understanding your eating habits.
Take a minute to grab some pen and paper or open a blank document and make an exhaustive list of potential eating habits that you think would make your lifestyle change challenging to stick with.
Next, come up with one to three solutions for each perceived obstacle.
For example, if you have a sweet tooth, you could search for recipes with foods that use naturally sweet foods like sweet potatoes or fruits. You can bounce ideas around with your dietitian or nutritionist.
Remember, it's always a good idea to consult with a health professional before eliminating foods from your diet.
When making big changes in your eating habits, it's important to know your personal tendencies. Some people do better with abstaining from foods (ie keeping them out of the house), whereas others do well with moderating their intake to minimize cravings. The important thing is to know yourself and your limits, and set yourself up for success.
If you live with other people and this isn’t a realistic option, you can keep a designated cupboard or fridge shelf for the foods you want to include.
Remember to stock up on easily accessible foods for your meals and pre-prepped nutrient-dense items (think chopped veggies, pre-cooked protein foods, ready-to-eat yogurts, etc.) you can grab when you’re in a pinch.
Make sure to reference your prepared food list whenever you’re creating your grocery list or planning to stock up on certain items.
It may seem simple, but it's the most straightforward way to stick with a big lifestyle change—plan delicious meals and snacks that you know you’ll enjoy!
Make sure to base these on your food list and your eating habits and preferences.
Meal prepping will take the panic out of figuring out what to eat at each meal, especially when adhering to specific rules.
If you’re starting your diet (remember there’is no one size fits all!) to improve glycemic control or blood glucose levels, you may want to self-monitor your glucose levels using a tool like a CGM.
A CGM, or continuous glucose monitor, will show you how your blood sugar levels change in response to your foods. You’ll also get insight into how your glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day.
This data can help you optimize the benefits of your diet. The best part of the CGM Program with NutriSense is you can use the monitor with an innovative app that tracks your blood glucose levels in real-time.
There’s also a team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists that not only help you read and understand the data but can work with you to help you achieve your health goals.
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