Fad Diets have been promoted as the solution to achieving weight loss, you just have to look at the health section in bookstores and the multitude of ads we are constantly bombarded with on social media. How many of us can say we have tried almost every ‘diet’ under the sun but rarely see long-term results?
The human body is a complex biological system that has evolved over millions of years to adapt to changes in food availability. When we decide to go on a diet that often involves significant calorie restriction and removal of entire food groups from a biological perspective we are wired to perceive this as a threat to survival and our protective mechanism is to downregulate our metabolism to conserve energy and upregulate things like hunger hormones which makes sticking to a diet almost impossible.
Cue the never-ending cycle of restricting food with diets, punishing ourselves at the gym then feeling like you've failed when it all comes crashing down. We know this is a broken concept yet the often unethical billion-dollar diet industry repackages the same old mentality in smart new packaging and we think this will be the winning diet this time, yet it rarely is.
So with all of that in mind, how do we actually start to build sustainable nutrition and health habits that help improve our health and as a byproduct our body composition?
My top four tips are:
Shift your mindset
This isn't always easy which is why working with a nutritionist or health coach can be really beneficial. We need to shift beyond seeing our bodies as something that needs to ‘be fixed’ and move towards nurturing ourselves for better health and longevity. We need a combination of motivation, opportunity, and the ability to make health habits stick. Focusing entirely on numbers on a scale is very unmotivating when that slows or stops. This is why exploring the deeper motivators to make changes is key.
We need good quality and quantity of sleep for health & longevity. Have you ever noticed when you don't sleep well you are hungrier, grumpier, and more likely to skip exercise? There is a cascade of hormonal implications when we don't get 7+ hours of good sleep. Sleep is fundamental to optimising health.
Nutrient Replete Approach
Build a diet full of mostly whole and unprocessed foods. Good quality proteins, plenty of dark leafy greens, brightly coloured vegetables, some fruits, and healthy fats. Many of us have nutrient deficiencies so increasing nutrient intake helps to improve our nutrient status.
Optimising protein intake can be really beneficial from a health perspective but it also is incredibly satiating, improves autoregulation, and helps to support both building and maintaining lean body mass - our metabolic currency!
It is also important to include some foods in your nutritional approach that you really love that you may not consider ‘healthy’. Constant restriction of the foods you love often drives binge cycles - we don't want that! The best approach is the one you can maintain long-term.
Hydrate adequately! Replenish fluid lost overnight with two glasses of water on rising then another 2 litres throughout the day. If you are highly active or use a sauna you will likely need to add in more water.
Move your body in ways you enjoy!
Explore different approaches to moving your body such as yoga, reformer pilates, lifting weights, walking, jogging, running, hiking in nature, and swimming. Find something you love that isn't a chore so you can build consistency and start to challenge yourself. Step out of your comfort zone, you might discover something you had no idea you would love.
As you can see there is far more to sustainable nutrition than just the food we eat, it's about our environment, habits, and behaviour. If you would like to learn more about this in greater detail make sure you register for our Sustainable Nutrition Workshop.
Registered Sports Nutritionist, Health Coach & Naturopath
Sustainable Nutrition Workshop
11 Nov, 10:00 am – 12 Nov, 11:30 am
ReDefined, 58 Ashley Place, Papamoa Beach, 3118, New Zealand
Members - Free
Non Members - $30