The coming of a new year often brings the intention to begin anew; often setting out to do more of healthy things, and less of unhealthy things, right? Work out more, eat more fruits/vegetables, eat less sweets, less carbs, less fat, drink more water, etc. etc.
With all the “fad” diets and nutrition advice floating around, each of you can probably name 5-10 people that come to mind who are trying a new diet pattern or lifestyle this year. Becoming “healthy” is all the rage, but diets themselves will not inherently make you healthy, nor keep off that weight – lifestyle changes and creating new habits around food will.
Why Diet Comparisons Shouldn’t Exist
That being said, it’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap of wondering why what worked for someone else hasn’t worked for you. What’s wrong with you that you can’t lose weight the way that other person lost weight. Your energy levels aren’t better. Your skin isn’t clearing up. You’re not loving your life the way he/she seems to be. It’s too easy to fall into the negative act of comparison. Food comparison and food shaming is becoming so inherent and we need to understand why these comparison thoughts are futile, and instead, turn around our mindsets.
It’s no wonder people have varying degrees of results while following different diets. Think about it. Not only are we all different in terms of height/weight and distribution, but consider genetics, physical activity, resting metabolic rates, medications, muscle levels, appetites and how often we eat, speed (and ease) of digestion, hormones, stress levels, how much we sleep, how much we fidget, and even the prevalence of bacteria (aka gut microbiome). With so many different factors, it’s nearly impossibly that two people will have the same success/failure rate within a diet. Even if two women of the same age and BMI ate the same amount of calories each day, I can guarantee that the way they metabolize those calories is different for each woman.
Some people in the health and nutrition world can be quick to judge when it comes to following different “diets” or ways of eating. Others will take it upon themselves to provide you with all the evidence in the world against your diet choices, or to better support their view. But there’s always another side, always results from people that haven’t had the same success. Because people are inherently different – we don’t need research studies to prove this. There is, and will never be, a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition.
Who’s to say that Whole30, vegan, or a low-carb diet doesn’t work best for one person over another? You can’t translate how other people react to foods and compare it to yourself. Some people truly feel and perform better eating certain foods, and that makes sense. And it’s ok. Why should we criticize them or frown upon that? We should all play around with different foods and ways of eating. Otherwise, we won’t know what works and doesn’t work for us, what makes us feel better or feel like crap.
Maybe you do better with a high carb snack before bed. Maybe you feel better with less meat in your diet. Maybe you actually hate chia seeds or hemp seeds or other trendy foods that people glorify. Maybe you feel your best with 6-8 small meals a day. Or maybe, you can eat a bowl or two of ice cream every night and not gain a single pound. How you do it doesn’t really matter – just find what works for you and what makes you feel your best. You don’t have to practice mindful eating every meal of the day, or seek “healthy, nutrient-rich” calories for every choice you make. Rather than counting calories, think of food as energy to help you go about your day. Sometimes that means mid-day donuts, a second lunch with a friend, or a glass of wine you weren’t planning on having.
The thing is – when you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, or what others eat, you’re at the mercy of others’ lives. You can’t concentrate on what really makes YOU happy, what fuels your mind and body, or what foods your body needs at that exact moment for nourishment, recovery, or happiness. I can guarantee it’s different for each of us.
We should stop trying to fit into a narrow box with certain “rules,” because that’s not what our bodies were meant to do. We know the framework for healthy foods and choices for a lifestyle that leads to longevity, but we have so much wiggle room to personalize it how we see best. Let’s spend less time comparing our meals and food choices to the person next to us, and more time figuring out what foods make us feel best, and using that knowledge to create the best lifestyle we can. Life is too short to stress about food choices. I’ll do me. And YOU DO YOU.
Cheers! Linking up as part of Fitness, Health and Happiness – 3 of my favorite things 🙂
Are there certain foods or lifestyles that work best for you?
Do you have any opinions on the different fad diets?