Demystifying Diet Season with 6 Healthy Tips

It happens every year like clockwork. January of a new year comes around and my inbox is flooded with inquiries about the latest diet trends, and the most effective ways to get back on track for the new year. “Should I try whole 30? Keto? Macro Counting? And for how many days?” Though the diet trends change from year to year, my answer is always the same. While there can be some short term benefits to each of these diets, they generally don’t focus on creating sustainable and long term healthy lifestyle habits that will carry you through the entire year and years to come. Keeping these six things in mind can help you navigate the always confusing “diet season” with mindfulness and intention.
  1. Love yourself through food: Our relationship to food is a very emotional one. We sometimes create feelings of guilt, shame, and even punishment around our food habits. We have a choice three times a day to express our values and self love through food. This is why it’s very important to approach our eating intentions from a positive mindset. For example, our New Years goals typically consist of phrases such as “In the new year I am going to quit eating sugar, gluten, and processed foods, and will only eat 1500 calories a day.” Think of all the barriers and potential failure that this statement sets you up for. It places you in a mindset of “I can’t” instead of “I choose.” What if you simply shifted the language to something like this. “In 2020 I am an incredibly healthy person who chooses to eat an abundance of whole foods that nourish my body.” Or “I choose to consume the right amount of fuel that my body needs to feel vibrant and energized, instead of lethargic and full.” This subtle change of language creates a more empowering and sustainable mindset that allows you indulge once in a while without judgement or shame that you aren’t living up to your goals. 
  1. Be weary of diets that cut out an entire macronutrient group: There are three types of macronutrients in the food we eat: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. All three are very important for our bodies to function properly and receive the fuel they need. Trendy diets will sometimes tell you to limit or avoid one of these macronutrients all together. This can lead to unexpected adverse reactions in your body, as well as potential nutrient deficiencies. Cutting carbs out of your diet, for example, may lead to rapid weight loss at first, but down the road, the lack of fiber and micronutrients from all the food groups you’re eliminating can really take a toll on your digestive health, hormones, organ function, and energy levels. If something makes you rapidly lose weight or seems extreme, it’s probably because it is doing extreme things to your body.
  1. Embrace foods that your great grandmother would recognize: With diet trends, come consumer products. That is the nature of the wellness industry. Bars, protein powders, crackers, all promising to keep you on track during your diet journey. I always tell my clients to try to eat foods as close to the way nature made them as possible, and if the item is something your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize, it’s probably not doing your body any favors. Ingredients like isolates, refined sugars, preservatives, coloring, artificial sweeteners, corn syrups, vegetable oils have all been heavily processed and are no longer in a form that nourishes your body. These ingredients can actually lead to more cravings, weight gain, and inflammation.
  1. Abundance v restriction: Focus on adding MORE vibrant, colorful, plant-based foods to your life instead of focusing on cutting out ingredients. I always like to say “eat the rainbow every day.” By adding more nutrient dense fruits and vegetables into your daily routine, you naturally crowd out the things that aren’t necessarily healthy like processed foods. Instead of thinking of it as eliminating certain items from your diet, start to create the mindset that there simply isn’t room for them anymore because you are eating so many other beneficial things! And while it may sound counterintuitive to focus on abundance (especially if your goal is to lose weight), I have found that this mindset actually leads to healthy weight loss results because you aren’t obsessing about the restriction anymore. It’s all mental.
  1. Look to cultures who have been doing it right for centuries: There is a reason the Mediterranean diet tops the charts every year as the best diet for optimal health. If you look to the modern cultures who live the longest, and maintain a healthy weight and disease-free life well into their 90’s and even 100’s, you will start to notice a pattern in the way they eat. Whole foods, mostly plants, healthy fats, and occasionally some lean animal protein like fish and poultry. No fads, or carb-cutting, and definitely no cookies-and-cream flavored diet protein shakes.
  1. There is no “one size fits all” diet: Take the time to get to know your body and how it reacts to certain foods and styles of eating. I highly suggest trying a 3 week food journal where you observe which types of food give you more energy/make you feel light and vibrant, and which ones make you feel lethargic and weighed down or make your stomach work overtime to digest. Starting to observe these patterns will help you start to narrow down the right habits for YOU!
Recipe: Abundant Roasted Beet Hummus
1 lb red beets
2 cups cooked chick peas
½ lemon (juiced)
2 T olive oil
1/3 c Tahini
¼ c filtered water
2-3 cloves garlic
salt & pepper to taste
pine nuts & parsley for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400. Wash and peel your beets and dice into cubes. Add a thin layer of olive oil to the beets and roast on a sheet tray until you can pierce the beets easily with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Add all the ingredients (except for the pine nuts and parsley) to a food processor or blender. Blend until you achieve a smooth hummus-like consistency. Lightly toast your pine nuts and add them along with some chopped fresh parsley as a garnish.
3. Serve with a variety of colorful vegetables for dipping.
4. Enjoy eating the rainbow!