What is the best diet to follow? Print

What to eat for health, energy or a weight concern

One of the most common questions we get asked as Calgary nutritionists is simply “what is the best diet to follow?” If you are seeking better health, energy or have a weight concern it can be very confusing to know what to eat. Some programs have you counting calories, macros, points, servings, grams of carbs and more. Just about everyone has an opinion on this subject and often times the opinions are completely opposite or have changed and evolved with time. Take keto and paleo diets for instance, the foods you would be so-called “allowed” to eat are dramatically different than vegan and plant based diets. So how do you make sense of this? What should you eat according to our team of professional Registered Dietitians?best diet to follow

What truly is the best eating style?

Any time one of the nutritionists in our practice is working with a client regardless of the goal or concern they are coming to see us for, our answer to the question “what is the best diet to follow?” is actually quite simple. 

The best healthy eating lifestyle is the one you can sustain for life.

If we break this down further there are a couple of key words to look at here.

First of all our goal is to have you think about the best lifestyle you can follow rather than the best diet (after all the word diet has the word die in it and often brings about negative feelings of deprivation). Building a lifestyle means you have thought about eating FULLY. Eating fully is the balance between eating healthfully (foods chosen for geeky nutritious reasons that improve health) as well as eating soulfully (foods chosen purely for fun, social enjoyment and taste).  One without the other leads to imbalance in either wellness or quality of life. 

This brings me to the second word that is really important in the statement “the best healthy eating lifestyle is the one you can sustain for life.” Another important word here is sustain. Ideas of what to follow are endless but actually being able to stick to an eating plan is difficult. Any short term cleanse, detox, rigid plan or diet that will end in a matter of days or weeks simply lacks benefit in your long term health and often leads to feelings of failure when you are unable to follow this. Time and time again we see “food rebel” behavior happen when our clients go off a rigid diet plan (aka overeating forbidden foods). The worst part is the heavy emotional toll our clients feel when feelings of guilt, shame and failure creep in. 

For the record – there is nothing fundamentally wrong with YOU if you have not been able to stick to a diet. The diet was fundamentally flawed from the start.

As with most things in life, one size does not fit all. Be wary of any eating plan that says there is one way to eat that is superior. Scientific evidence does not suggest this is the case. You can be healthy following a wide range of eating plans (including both eating meat or as a vegetarian).

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What about simply following a so-called “clean eating” plan?

While there is no firm definition of what clean eating is all about, clean eating articles, magazines and social media posts are generally associated with consuming a diet of highly nutritious foods. 

Clean eating posts are usually full of so-called trendy superfoods like kale, quinoa, avocado, kombucha tea and bone broth. If you check out the images online associated with clean eating you will find a wide range of selfies that showcase abs, muscles and many sculpted bodies drinking green shakes.   

The problem with “eating clean” means that you are labelling your intake as clean or good foods which then labels other food choices as “dirty” or bad foods. Clean eating often means striving for perfection. This is unnecessary, often demotivating and leads to feelings of deprivation and failure.

You won’t see white foods, sugar or potato chips on clean eating posts. You often won’t see carbs, unstylish plain meals that your family might actually eat or a diversity of meat choices (outside of boneless skinless chicken breasts). You also won’t see images that showcase the wide range of body shapes and sizes that define health. These bodies may have cellulite, stretch marks, curves and non-hourglass shapes.

The most sustainable eating plans for good health, energy and help to move you to your personal best weight help you balance out a wide range of foods – both nutritious options but also those that we eat for non-nutrition reasons which is a normal and essential part of life.

So if clean eating isn’t the answer, how does someone begin to figure out a balanced lifestyle you can sustain for life?

  1.  Shift your mindset to #balancednotclean

Food choices do not need to be thought of as good or bad. Food is just food. We eat for different reasons, not simply to add nutrients into your body. Move to a philosophy of balanced, not clean.

There are no bad foods, only bad diets. It’s all about choice. Nothing is off limits. Just like budgeting your finances, you need to develop the skill and awareness of spending and saving where it counts. Similar to our bank account, what we choose to spend on is highly individual. There will always be key basic needs we must spend on (similar to a basic level of nutritious foods that need to be consumed for health and productivity in our day). Then we have some money left to spend on fun stuff (just like we have some calories left to spend on soulful foods chosen for taste and enjoyment rather than any type of nutritional need).

  1. Determine your food personality profile

Success starts in first taking some time to reflect on what type of food plan will work best for you and then determining if a book, website or hiring a health professional is in alignment to include this and has the professional education and training to help with this. Answer these questions:

  1. What do I enjoy eating based on my food preferences and culture?  
  2. What will realistically work for me based on my time, budget and cooking skill?
  3. Are there any health and medical concerns or family food preferences that I will need to consider?

Where can I learn more about building a sustainable healthy eating lifestyle?

Join my upcoming FREE public webinar at www.pursuithealthiness.com/webinar happening on Oct 23, 24 or 25th

Webinar overview:  Why Clean Eating is Destined to Fail and What to Do Instead: How to ditch dieting, rock meal planning and move to your personal best weight (still eating foods you love). 

If you have ever felt stuck, defeated, stressed, too busy or overwhelmed when it comes to the topic of healthy eating, this webinar is for you.  As a Registered Dietitian for close to 20 years, I’ve been studying solutions to help you achieve better health, meal planning success and move towards your personal best weight. 

Find out more about how I will help you eat well and still have a life (that includes chocolate, chips and other yummy things).  Join me on this free upcoming live masterclass Oct 23, 24 or 25th!  www.pursuithealthiness.com/webinar  

 

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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