If you decide to get enthusiastic about weight loss, there is a multitude of formula diets out there to choose from: Low carb, high protein, low fat, paleo, primal, blood type, and what I like to call ‘pretend food’ diets where all you have to do is open a packet and put the food in your mouth. Every so often a new diet plan is released with much fanfare and promises of quick weight loss with virtually no effort on your part. It can get confusing – which is the ‘right’ diet for you?
Usually these formula diets are rigidly prescriptive, with firm instructions issued to “eat this but don’t eat that”. Sometimes this advice is based on scientific research; sometimes not. For some people the new diet will work well, and their size will decrease. When others notice the positive change they naturally want to know how it was done, and rush to try the diet for themselves. Sometimes it works for them, sometimes it doesn’t. When that formula diet doesn’t work, you can easily feel disheartened and a failure; or worse, that you’ll never lose that weight. It doesn’t seem fair, and it isn’t. Why?
Every formula doesn’t work for everyone because we’re all different genetically. Each person’s biochemistry functions in a slightly different way. You’ve probably noticed that some people seem to eat mountains of food, never exercise, and look slim as a whippet. Other people have to carefully watch what they eat and exercise rigorously to keep their weight within a healthy range. Still others have to make sure they eat enough so that they don’t lose weight. The perfect diet is simply what is perfect for you as an individual.
How do you work out what the effective diet is for you? Although it’s time consuming, and calls for focus on your part, a powerful first step is to keep a diary of what you eat and drink (everything that goes in your mouth) plus, importantly, how your energy levels and moods respond to what you eat. Your exercise as well.
It’s hard work, but many people have reported to me that they find this process incredibly enlightening: They weren’t aware how much sugar they were actually eating, or how much they were snacking through the day and buying takeaway food rather than making time to prepare real food. Try the food, mood and energy journaling process for seven days as a first step. It’s a great reality check.
If you don’t want to keep a paper diary, you could utilise one of the web-based food diary software programs or apps to help you work out whether the amount and type of food you’re eating falls within what is generally regarded as ‘healthy eating’. Engaging professional assistance is always an option too, if you’re feeling thoroughly confused about what is the right food for you, and the best way to lose weight as well as keep it off.