Every Diet Works . . . If Only For a Little While

Last week I was encouraging my daughter Elizabeth to attend an event at our church.  She didn’t wanna go.

I said, “Noelle’s gonna be there.”

She said, “Noelle and I are complete opposites.”

I asked, “Whadaya mean?”

She answered, “Noelle’s really shy.”

(She’s right.  Noelle is really shy.  And Elizabeth, after warming up to someone, is certainly not.)

I asked, “Is Noelle mean, rude, unkind, and disrespectful?”

She replied, “No.”

I said, “So, you’re mean, rude, unkind, and disrespectful?!”

She got my [hyperbolic] point.

Instead of looking at their differences, I encouraged her to look at their similarities.

This story isn’t to dissimilar to the one we have when it comes to nutrition and diets.  We often key in on the differences (which leave us confused) instead of focusing on the similarities.

Assuming you’re reading this in 2019, here are some of the more popular diets:

The Mediterranean diet – emphasizes vegetables, healthy fats like olive oil, fish, beans, and lower amounts of processed foods.

The keto diet – a low-carb diet that emphasizes high fat and moderate protein consumption.

Vegetarianism – promotes eating no meat and more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds.

Intermittent fasting – fasting for anywhere from 16 hours to two days at a time.  The focus is less on what but when.

Whole30 diet – focuses on whole foods and the elimination of legumes, dairy, and grains.

Macro diet – instead of counting calories, it focuses on counting macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat).  The focus is less on what but how much.

The Paleo diet – mimics what our cavemen ancestors were eating: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruit, and vegetables.

Weight Watchers (yes, still popular) – focuses on creating a balanced diet and eating in moderation.

Intuitive eating – rejects the diet mentality and promotes eating mindfully and without guilt.  The focus is less on what but why.

The carnivore diet – requires eating only beef, water, and salt.

I’m not condoning or condemning any of these.  People have lost remarkable amounts of weight on all of these programs.

The point of listing all of these diets and their many differences is to show that in spite of all their differences, they prove something.

EVERYTHING WORKS . . . IF ONLY FOR A LITTLE WHILE.

How can this be?  After all, they’re all so different.

The answer lies not in the differences, but instead in the similarities.  Actually, similarity (singular).

ALL DIETS HAVE YOU CONSUMING FEWER CALORIES THAN YOUR BODY NEEDS.

If you want to lose unwanted fat, regardless of what you eat, you must eat less than your body needs, consistently.  Whether you follow a plan that removes an entire food group, encourages eating more voluminous foods that provide greater satiety, i.e., make you feel fuller longer, or brings greater awareness to your hunger and fullness, you must eat less.

I wanna revisit the word work.  I’m genuinely frustrated when I meet an overfed, undernourished prospect who tells me a certain diet worked for him.  Yet, we’re still having a conversation about how he’s the heaviest he’s been in his life.  (The diet worked.  Really?!)

I mentioned earlier I was neither condoning nor condemning any of the diets.  When it comes to nutrition, I’m a bit of an agnostic.  Yes, I’ve my druthers, and coach specific guidelines, but my goal is to help a client find a better way of eating for him that he can do for life.

For me, a diet, philosophy, or plan truly works when it can be sustained.  I want a client to adopt sustainability from the beginning.  If he can’t see doing it for the rest of his life, is it worth adopting?  (There are exceptions, yes, e.g., making weight for a prize fight or wedding.  And sometimes the line between the two can get a bit fuzzy, but it’s worth it.)

If you like carbs, you don’t have to give ‘em up.  If you wanna eat like a Neanderthal, go for it.  Find something that works for you and plays nicely with everything else you’ve got going on in your life.

I ask one thing, though.  Give the diet or plan time to work and do it consistently.  How much time?  More than you think.  How consistently?  Again, more than you think.  Give the plan and yourself at least three months before you either become a zealot or decide it didn’t work for you.

Okay, I know I said I was neither condoning nor condemning any of the aforementioned diets, but I can’t keep this in.  If you eat like a carnivore, please help me to understand how that’s even a thing.