Ok first things first....realise right now that you have been lied to and manipulated. DIETS DON'T WORK LONG TERM! One of the best resource items I have seen in regards to the diet culture was a talk by Dr Tracy Mann that I would encourage you all to watch.
Here I aim to provide some basic tips and ideas that may help you get started on the right track to finding what is best approach to nutrition for you.
Secondly, no matter what nutritional practices you implement, you need to ensure they work for YOU in finding the balance between meeting your nutritional needs, achieving your health goals, and what will work for your lifestyle long term. Like anything in life there are always pros and cons. People have different belief systems and throughout their lives are exposed to many different influences and information, so what may seem 'extreme' to one person, may not be at all to another. It all comes down to our own individual perspective.
You must focus on yourself, your preferences, you lifestyle factors, and what you can manage long term. If you are really struggling to get a hold of your nutrition I would encourage you to start with the help of a qualified health and fitness professional (who will actually SPEAK TO YOU,) so that you can create a foundation and somewhere to start, Along the way it is important for you to take responsibility and pay attention to what feels right for you, and make adjustments to suit your lifestyle and your preferences.
There are so many ways to create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
- Aim to find an approach that looks like it would be something you would be able to maintain and most importantly enjoy. From there step by step each week make small adjustments as needed. Get some help and guidance if you feel you need it. Select someone who is flexible in their approach and coaching, someone who doesn't have a fixed mindset, and who is open to working WITH you to create a plan that suits you....not only what 'they' do and what works for them.
- There is no real perfect plan out there that works for everyone, but there is the right plan for you. Some of us eat meat, some don't. Some eat dairy, some don't. Some want to track food intake and calculate daily calories and macros, some don't. Some want to eat 3 meals a day, some 6. Some like intermittent fasting, some don't. Make modifications that you feel comfortable with, and if you are getting help from someone be sure to 'communicate' with them what you do and don't like. Of course there are more sensible and optimal ways, but ultimately it's finding what you enjoy and can maintain as a lifestyle.
- It's important to start somewhere! Don't be in a fixed mindset in regards to whatever choice you make. Remember it is okay to try new things along the way. How do we know what we don't know, right? Nothing has be 'locked in'. and your approach and habits may change slightly over time. However don't throw away your plan of attack as soon as you hit a road bump. Simply adjust and solve each problem as they arise and continue.
- The key is to build a basic foundation as a starting point, and then adjust as you go. Not big massive changes and jumping from plan to plan, but just assessing daily and weekly what worked well, and from there adapting the areas that aren't. Don't sabotage what is likely working because you 'saw', 'read' or 'heard' something. There is no issue in keeping an open mind and continuing to learn, but constantly taking every single thing you read as gospel is going to leave you in a world of confusion and overwhelm. It's all about patience, consistency and what you know you can stick with for the long haul.
- I personally eat all the macro-nutrients and food groups, and follow a balanced approach that works for ME, fits into my daily life, and ensures I feel my best. I don’t however eat red meat, and only very occasionally will have some fish if my body needs it. I choose a more plant-based approach due to both a combination of preference, in that I don’t like the taste of meat or how I feel on those foods, and some part ethical. I am not vegan. I balance my portions and I am sensible with all food groups and 'how much I eat'. I eat carbs when and where they best fit into my daily schedule and based on how I feel. I simply go with what I feel like eating and make sure I have a sensible portion. I have a basic ‘foundation’ schedule of how I eat and what I eat, but I don’t get concerned or stressed if some days it just doesn’t work out that way.
- If a coach or person is suggesting to not eat a particular food or food group then that is most likely because they may have their own reasons, personal opinion, or interpretation of research that they have done or studied. I honestly can't comment on what other people do or say, aside from we all have to decide what is best for our own bodies. This really applies to everything in life. In the case of nutrition, like I said, some don't like to eat dairy, some do. Some don't like to eat meat, some do. Some count calories or macro's and track their food intake, some don’t etc. It is simply a personal choice. I believe we can eat all food groups (aside from any intolerance's and allergies) and it is more about portion control and meeting your nutritional needs.
- I know from personal experience the more I thought about doing it the 'right' way, and over complicating things to find the 'best way', the more 'mistakes' I made, and the more stress it created. I have with conscious commitment learnt to listen to my body and go by how I feel and what makes me feel good. I found what is right for me, not what anyone else tells me, not what every article from science tells me, not what a book tells me, nor the Internet, Instagram, Facebook or any online fitness guru. After taking time out away from external influences and re-connecting with myself and my body I found how to balance my food sensibly without control or restrictions. I learnt to love training again in ways that I enjoy it and can maintain it, not based on 'rules' and what I should and shouldn't do based on everyone else's opinion. I found the perfect balance to be healthy, to eat what I enjoy daily, and to maintain the leanest and healthiest shape that I know is comfortable for me, again for ME!
- Do all my clients eat the same meals and use supplements like me...no! Some eat 3 meals, some 5, some 6. Do all my clients incorporate shakes, vitamins and minerals....no! Some have a shake. Some none. Do I think people who follow Low Carb, Carb-cycling, Clean Eating, IIFYM, Paleo, Vegan, Atkins, 5:2, etc programs are wrong....hell NO! People use lots of different approaches around the world and are successful. They will 100% stand by their methods to maintain health and body composition, and also importantly a happy lifestyle because it does work for THEM. When it comes to nutrition and exercise choice it is not always a one size fits all, it's finding what fits you best. You need to find a solution, program, or system that you can work with and incorporate into your life, and one that you enjoy.
- If you are constantly thinking about food every single minute of the day, your next meal, and your life is being dominated by food, then that is a sign of a likely underlying problem and in many cases there is more going on than just the program you are following. These days there are a lot of bad relationships with food and body image. Basically if your mindset is not right and there are deeper reasons why you are have so many struggles with food, then the likelihood of success with any lifestyle change is very much compromised. You need to work first on correcting your mindset towards food, your body, and your life.
- At the end of the day it truly comes down to finding what fits your lifestyle best, your preferences, your goals, and most importantly how you feel. For example, I have met a number of people who function really well on low carbs and love living on a higher fat meal program, but for me and many others, I love my carbs and I feel horrible and lethargic when I don't eat them. So try not to think in regards to who or what information is 'right or wrong' (although some things are a little extreme lol), but focus more on tuning into your own body and how it feels. That is the same approach I take with all my clients. I try to work 'with them' to guide them to find the best approach for them. It is also essential to always run your own race and keep an open mind. You never want to waste your life judging others on how they chose to live their life. We all have the right to a happy and healthy life and have the right to decide what is best for us.