2015 diet plans

Hello 2015!!!
The best time of the year to start a diet!! 

Big feast, lots of treats/sweets, off your typical routine. 
You have gone a bit overboard and now feel as if you have sinned with overindulgence or enough is enough and you are tired of your flaws and you have self-criticized yourself enough that you now have all the motivation in the world to finally start that diet plan. 

Sure, these are all things associated with the holiday season but they are also associated with individuals who seek diets. 
And let me tell you about diets these days...they are all over the place in terms of the rules, guidelines and promises that they make. 

What's always the same? 

They offer best-seller books and cookbooks because the media loves the attention that the diet is getting. You know about the diet because it's all over social media. Of course, those who aren't on the diet don't talk about it and those not on social media, well, they aren't in your bubble to talk about it so it certainly seems like everyone is doing it.

These diets, well, they have big results that make you believe that this diet is a life changer and convince you that as long as you "stick to the plan" you will lose weight and feel better. And above all, they have a tough love type of appeal - as you read the diet plan information, you can't help but think about what's not going well in your diet and although it may be the processed food you have heavily relied on for the past few years, the inability to pass on any sweet that comes your way, your lack of desire for home cooking, your unhealthy relationship with food, your lack of understanding about how to fuel for your workout/training routine or your lack of motivation to make a few healthy swaps in your diet, you go big and you know that a diet plan will not let you down because they told you if you followed the plan exactly (no slip-ups, cheat days or off-moments) you will change your life. 

   Lowered blood pressure, reduced diabetes risk/controlling diabetes, renal disease, improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk for cancer, GERD, IBS, Celiac disease, Crohn's - did you know that there are specific, clinical diets that have been studied for decades and the "diet" will assist in a positive way to control symptoms in all of these conditions? 
By why start there when you can follow a diet that cures everything....even what you don't have!

Just eliminate sugar, dairy, legumes and grains and eat real food, your gut will be healed forever, your hormones will be balanced forever and you will never have inflammation ever again!
Interesting that these days, no diet talks about the big reasons why people die -  the conditions that have a high mortality rate like heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease.

Interesting that these days everyone is so concerned with their gut, inflammation and hormones and the diet plans understand this. Perhaps they can make you feel better by eliminating food but show me the science that these diets will improve longevity and quality of life?

If you have a serious gut, inflammatory or hormonal issue, visit a doctor, get extensive testing and work with a RD. You are an individual so treat yourself as one. 

Food freedom
As a former clinical RD who has a lot of experience working with athletes who athletes who have clinical issues/food intolerances which require dietary changes, I understand how life-changing it can be to have to change the diet. Although a diet change can make that person feel better, it is not easy to know that you have to abide by certain dietary guidelines for the rest of your life in order to control your situation or manage the symptoms. The diets you see that are popping up all over the internet  they are for everyone but they often promote that they are for those who have clinical issues.
The rapid rise of gluten free cookbooks and blogs is fantastic....for those who have celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance.

But let me tell you this, the moment you find out you have a disease or a food allergy, your life changes forever. You no longer have food freedom. You quickly learn what food elimination is all about because it is not temporary. There is no cheat day or I'll be better tomorrow.

If you do not have a clinical condition, consider yourself extremely lucky that you do not have to deal with these things on a day to day basis.

When was the last time you thought about your food freedom? The ability to eat what you want, when you want, anytime. It doesn't matter if that food makes you feel good or bad but rather, the freedom that your food choices are not limited by a clinical situation related to your well-being.

Talk to someone who has Crohn's, lupus or Celiac disease, live a week with them and you will quickly learn what "gluten-free" or food restriction is really all about and talk to that person about the symptoms she/he experiences when she/he eats foods that are "off limit" - it's far more serious than the inflammation, gas or bloating that can be eliminated by going gluten-free.

The ultimate goal of any individual, regardless of clinical issues, is to eat the most varied diet possible and not feel food-restricted so that food ultimately enhances life and improves health.

Feeling "off"
So once again, I hear ya! What's not to love about a diet that cures all diseases and conditions and makes you so healthy that you have no choice but to be so happy in life with your lifestyle changing, "non calorie-counting"  diet?
Anytime you overindulge, it's normal to feel a little off. It doesn't matter if it's in the entire month of November and December or 5 days of traveling - we have all been there.
If you are off your routine, it's easy to feel guilty or as if you are failing on your weight loss/body composition goals. 

So my question to you is, how do you define you idea of "ON". What's typical for you that makes you feel great about how you are eating?
A few days here or there of overindulging will not set you back in your weight loss/body composition goals and is perfectly normal and even healthy. The biggest problem with overindulging is how you feel afterward. But more so, it's not just a feeling but the actions that follow. 

For many people, there is no shortage of motivation to start a diet plan on January 1st because it follows the holiday season. It's a great time of the year to start fresh and begin a new journey. Not sure why our society doesn't have the same mentality about birthdays as the New Year is a mass celebration whereas your birthday celebrates your time on Earth.
But regardless, due to the way you may be feeling after the holidays, you may find it very hard to separate the methods of eating to improve health vs eating to lose weight.
You just want a change and you need it to feel better about yourself, your body or how you are living life.

I get that and I can't blame you for thinking that way. 

If you currently feel "off" right now, you must ask yourself what your diet looked like when you were feeling "on". If you feel your diet is typically very balanced and nourishing, you probably have the foundation in place, you just need to get back to your routine and I'm sure you will have no trouble achieving that come January 2nd. 

But if you feel "off" right now and motivation is really high to kick-start a new (or previous) diet plan, you must be careful of what diet plan you are super excited to follow to regain your great health or to help you reach your weight/body composition goals. If you have no "on", anything will sound better than what you are doing now or have been doing for the past x-months. 

If you have ever had experience dieting come the New Year, you may have noticed that most diet plans promise huge results and offer a quick fix. They probably won't make you feel this way at first and when you fail the diet, you will only blame yourself.

One of the biggest issues with dieting is the process that you put yourself through to get healthy or to change your body composition. Diet plans are products. You buy it (or buy into it) and then you "use" it. But when you can no longer adhere to the rules or the plan, you blame yourself for giving-in, cheating and not being disciplined enough. So, essentially, you fail the plan and it's on to the next diet or you try to buy-in one more time. 

I can't deny that most diets (if not all) will help you lose weight if you stick to them. But weight loss doesn't mean improved health. It makes no sense to change your body composition if you do not experience an improvement in health or quality of life. (Please agree with me on this). 

So if you think about starting a diet plan, it should be one that makes you healthier than prior to starting the plan. Not deprived, not hungry, not starving, not restricted, not isolated, not sick, not broke and not unhappy.

But of course, I am speaking to those who have food abundance. Sadly, 805 million people in this world are undernourished. Yet in America, we obsess about what not to eat, we throw out food that is "bad", we eliminate food to make us be healthy and more active. And what's crazy is that once the processed and fast food is gone in your diet (which is a big culprit of health issues in the USA), you begin to eliminate real food that can actually nourish someone who is hungry and malnourished!

But our society doesn't think like that. We don't think about those who don't have food because we are too busy talking about how easy it is to change our diet by the next time meal time comes around. 

A diet should not make you develop an unhealthy relationship with food. 

In 2015, I encourage you to stop dieting. Dieting is not a lifestyle, it's a product that you use until you are tired with it or can't follow the rules. Many times it does not serve you well long-term. 

I spend most of my time with athletes discussing their relationship with food. It's not exciting, it's not extreme, it's not hardcore and it's not media-catchy. It doesn't happen overnight so it's certainly no quick fix. 

But, it's life changing. 

In a diet and body image obsessed society, it's very difficult for many athletes/fitness enthusiasts to create and maintain a healthy relationship with food and the body. Dieting, food restriction and dietary fads fuel the fire when it comes to moving further away from improved body image confidence and understanding of how food makes you feel. 

Eating healthy

Healthy eating is extremely important and we are all in our own individual quest to be as healthy as can be. Your definition of healthy may be different than the next person and your methods of improving health may be unlike your best friend or significant other. But when you feel pressure on January 1st to follow the crowd and follow a diet plan (even if it's termed "lifestyle change") you must develop long term methods to healthy eating. 

Diets have a start and an end but a lifestyle change means you are focusing on sustainable changes. They aren't big nor extreme but manageable and realistic. They don't always make your body change quickly and that may make you feel like you are failing and question needing a new plan. 

But let's not forget one very important thing - with every change you consciously decide to make in your life, it should make you a better person. If it's a change in the diet, it should make you healthier. If it's a change in your workout routine, it should make you fitter. And if it's a change in your personal life, it should help you live better. 
Changes don't produce quick results.

I am trying my hardest but I know that many people are 100% set on following a diet plan in 2015. If anything, there's going to be a lot of support and enthusiasm for following a plan in January and you will have no shortage of motivation at the start of the New Year. 

Because it is my passion to help athletes and fitness enthusiasts learn how to create a healthier relationship with food and the body, I want to help you understand a few key points that you need to consider when changing your diet this New Year. 

Stay tuned for m Part II: Diet tips