The dreaded D word.
The thing we do when we feel a little heavy, a little bloated and a little overweight.
I mean, that’s how it is isn’t it?
But before we embark on that journey, how do we know for sure that the diet we’re on is bad… Or good? What a waste of time if we spend thousands of dollars on a diet program and then be unsuccessful.
What a waste of time if we follow a plan rigidly and yet get mediocre results.
What a waste.
A recent article in The Huffington Post also tells us that mind-blowing before and after pictures you see in the ‘Real Transformation’ part of a compelling fitness program sales page can be so skewed that some times we probably won’t know the results until we try it.
So how do we know if our diet is bad?
Simple. Try it.
The Art of Trying
I’m a big fan of trying new things, going on random, unplanned adventures and just simply getting out of my comfort zone.
Like any other goals we have in life, the only way we can see results is to try it out.
It doesn’t matter what your best friend says, or how many before and after pictures you see and success stories you read about, your results will 100% be different from those who are on the same plan.
We’re all unique individuals and while it’s very tempting to just jump on a Cabbage Soup Diet because you’ve seen some great results, do not be upset when you don’t. At least you tried and that is one lesson worth taking. At least now you know it’s not even worth your time.
Give yourself a chance to start something and then give yourself time to see results. Don’t just quit after two weeks because it takes time, and lots of willpower to get things in the right order, and thus, see results.
Most Effective Diets Are Similar
Now that we’ve gotten that aside, here’s something I want you to know too: most effective diets are very alike.
But, the unhealthy ones can be very unhealthy in their own ways.
I’ll give you a personal example.
When I was trying to lose weight the first time round, I went on a Meal Replacement Shake (MRS) Diet. It’s quite a huge thing at that point in time, so without much thinking, and looking at the successes of one of my good friend, I went on to try it.
The deal was simple. I had to replace breakfast and lunch with the shake and have a light dinner at night. I also had to drink a lot of water. At least for the first week.
Did it work? Of course it did. I lost 3kg in a week.
Did it last? I gained 5kg within a month and I was diagnosed as being clinically obese right after that.
So how can a diet be bad?
A detox diet can strip you off the minimal amount of nutrition you should be giving your body. Like protein, unprocessed carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals.
A soup, tea or meal replacement diet, apart from it being too restrictive can take the fun out of eating. Yes, eating should be fun. You will lose weight, but for most of it, it’s probably just water weight.
A typical Western diet, or even an Asian diet can lead to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart diseases and high blood pressure, leading to drug dependency in the long run.
The only similarity between all these unhealthy diets? They all lead to poorer health, and that’s not something you want.
So How Do I Know If My Diet Is Bad?
While trying out the plan is one of the surest way to see if it works for you, here are 6 signs you can tell a good diet from a bad one, and ultimately know if it will work out or not.
1. It does not increase your knowledge and awareness on nutrition.
Good diet plans do not simply hand you over a 12-week program for you to follow blindly.
Good diet plans teaches you why you’re doing what you’re doing, gives a reason to why you should be eating more unprocessed foods and less of the sugar laden junks and at the very least help you become aware of what you’re doing.
If you find yourself embarking on a journey where the plan is simply click on this download button and get results, then trust me, you’re probably better off not going on a diet at all.
I know it sounds harsh but when I first started to lose 20 kilos in eight months (after the really unhealthy MRP diet), I simply followed a 1200-calorie diet without any reasoning as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. The result? I struggled after the weight loss.
Took me a personal training and nutrition certificate, and two whole years to get it right. Is the struggle worth it? I don’t think so.
Find a plan that teaches and educate you. You’ll thank me later.
2. It’s not flexible enough so you struggle when… Life happens.
Here’s the thing: rigid plans do not work. A diet is too rigid if it’s perfect on your normal days, but when life happens, you struggle to keep up with it.
Like when you’re travelling. When you woke up late one morning and forgot to bring your packed lunch. When your kids are throwing tantrums and your spouse is being annoying and you’re simply having a bad day.
If you see yourself in those situations and feel like whatever plan you’re on right now is going to be messed up, then chances are, it won’t work.
A good diet plan will give you room to go at your own pace, instead of just throwing you deep into the waters. We all know that incorporating good habits brings awesome results and in order for us to change our habits, it’s good to do it one at a time. Trying to change too many things can be exhausting and you will give up, slowing down results and progress.
3. It replaces or exclude real proper food.
Ever wondered why we’re always tired, sluggish and just feel downright terrible?
Maybe because you didn’t have enough sleep.
Or you didn’t drink enough water.
But water and sleep are usually not the only reasons. We’re lacking the nutrients in our body that is important for our health and wellbeing.
The processing of foods not only strips way naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, the kind of stuffs that makes you feel good inside and out, but the regular consumption of processed foods has the power to effect our day to day emotions.
If your diet plan incorporates lots of fresh whole foods like veggies and fruits and high quality protein, then it will help eliminate nutrient deficiencies and make you feel great.
Last time I checked, if you’re replacing your regular meals with a shake, doesn’t matter if it’s something you that says ‘5 servings of your required fruit and veggies intake per bottle!’, you’re still stripping away your body’s natural cravings for real food, and that’s not cool.
4. It does not promote regular exercise.
Change takes time, and yes for some of us, trying to change the way we eat and the way we move at the same time can exhaust our willpower and eventually make us give up. But in one way or another, your diet should promote regular exercise. If it’s telling you that you will get results even if you don’t exercise, then it’s most likely fad then being real.
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym every single day, but having room in the plan to do even a quick workout can make a lot of difference. Try to focus on mixing up your routine by incorporating both high and low intensity workouts. Your body will function better, and it’ll turn your healthy food into functional tissue.
5. It focuses on the quantity, not the quality of the food.
It doesn’t matter what diet you’re on, if you’re being told to eat only a set amount of macronutrients or calories and that is being emphasised on more than the quality of food, then perhaps you should give it a pass.
Counting calories may work, but it does not last. Our body is constantly evolving, always trying to change and be better so we will never know what is the right amount of calories or macronutrients we should be consuming.
On the other hand, focusing on the quality of food is much easier to follow.
Low carb diets emphasise on eating foods high in protein and fats and lower in sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Paleo diet advocates wants you to eat more natural whole foods, preferably organic and free-range and animal based. Again, these foods are naturally high in protein and fats and minimally processed.
Vegan diets wants you to eat colourful foods made from plants, often unprocessed and something you can find from the ground up. These foods are normally filled with a lot of vitamins and minerals.
See what’s similar here? They don’t focus on the quantity of food, they focus on the quality of the food you’re eating. Remember this: if you’re eating whole unprocessed foods, chances are you’ll feel good, feel fuller for longer and numerical figures do not really matter as much.
6. It’s something you can do for life.
I left this to the last part because it is mighty important and I want you to remember that. Our body and health stays with us for our entire lifetime. We don’t just keep it for the next 3 months, or whatever amount of months our diet plan is for.
If you’re embarking on a diet that you cannot see yourself doing after the program ends, which is usually the case for fad diets, then it’s highly likely it won’t work.
At least not in the long term.
Yes it may sound sweet and all having a diet working for 3-months but ask yourself can you do this for the rest of your life? Can you replace one meal with a strawberry shake even when you’re 50 years old? Can you keep this up even when you’re on a vacation?
If the answer is no, then you know what it means.
No single diet is perfect for everyone.
Ask the people around you who had their own success stories and you’ll soon realise that although there are similarities here and there, most of them also have done something different.
Some of them may quit sugar cold turkey.
Some simply took it one step at a time.
We’re all facing different challenges in life from our lifestyle, to our physiology, to our mindset. We’re different.
But the good news is? There’s so many healthy ways to eat without sacrificing our sanity.
A great eating plan should make you enjoy food, be flexible and increase your knowledge on nutrition. If you’re on one of them, then great job. Be consistent with it and you’ll see awesome results.
Your turn: Tell me, what is your biggest diet mistake in the past? Leave a comment below, I’ll give you my thoughts!
If you do need help finding your perfect plan, do consider my free 30-min phone consultations. Otherwise, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll reply. :)
Have an awesome week Pretty Awesomes!