Tips to Creating a Sustainable Diet
A sustainable diet is one of the keys to having major success with your diet and overall health. If you've read my other articles on How to Sustain Weight Loss and Principles to Create the Perfect Diet For You then you know I always preach about it and why it's important. If you haven't read those articles, I would suggest it as they both go into detail on why having a sustainable diet is so important. I go into some information on creating a sustainable diet, but not too much detail. This post will go into more detail about creating one and common issues people have with creating one.
When your diet is sustainable, it means it is consistent and it's also easy for you to follow. Many people fail to stay consistent with their diet because it isn't easy. Why is that though? It's easy to say that you've missed a couple of days of "eating right" and then now it's hard to get back on. However, the point I want to make though is that your sustainable diet should be your day to day diet that's not hard to get back on.
It should be something that you just jump back on the next day instead of having to force yourself to get back on track. So how do you create a diet like this? Let's go over some ways you can do so.
Calculate Your Calories and Macros
If you don't know your calorie or macro intake, I would suggest you find that out. Depending on your goals, knowing your macros and calories can play a very important factor in achieving them. Whether it be losing, gaining, or sustaining weight. Once you figure that out, you will easily find your baseline and can go from there. For example, you may want to lose weight, but for you to lose weight you need to eat 2000 calories a day.
You may not know it, but you may be eating well over that. So knowing your caloric range and keeping track of it for a period of time is important. I say a period of time because you don't always need to track your calories and macros. It definitely plays an important part in the beginning but once you're on a sustainable diet, you will easily be able to know if you're overeating or undereating. I digress though, you need to find out your calorie and macro range to have a baseline to go off of.
Flexible Dieting, Extreme Diet, or Something in Between?
A sustainable diet is unique to you. Even though it is unique to you, you may be still following a base diet. Maybe you're doing keto? Maybe you're doing Paleo or flexible dieting? If you haven't done though, you're probably wondering what is best for you.
I'm a person that believes there is a dichotomy in everything. I believe that when it comes to dieting too. You go on any extreme diet, you will most likely be lacking in something. Now that doesn't mean you always will be. You can be a vegan and supplement properly and you're good to go. I go into more detail about this in my article Supplements vs Whole Foods, Does it Make a Difference?
However, I always think having a good balance of a diet is best. What does that mean though? A balanced diet, in my opinion, is something that properly distributes macros and calories over the whole day. As well, is packed with foods that have great sources of vitamins and minerals. Even though that's my personal philosophy, a diet like that may not be sustainable for you. You may find it easier to do intermediate fasting. You may find something like keto easier for you, which brings me to my next point.
Use Fad Diets to Create a Sustainable Diet
If you've had trouble sustaining your diet, I think the best thing for you to do is to do experiments. You most likely wouldn't be reading this if you didn't have a sustainable diet.
All these fads diet out there are just tools for you to use. Bruce Lee has a quote that says, "Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own". I believe this is especially true when it comes to diets. You should look into fad diets and note what is sustainable for you and implement it.
Using myself as an example, my main issue with my diet was actually not eating enough or not getting enough protein. I also had a problem getting certain micronutrients. So I borrowed some elements of a Paleo diet into my own. I stopped taking so many multi-vitamins and tried to get more micronutrients from food. This also led to me getting more protein and eating more. It's also the food I enjoy which is a huge plus.
I want you to look a some of the most common fad diets:
- Keto - Low carbs, high fat, and protein (Protein should be at an amount that benefits you. Use the Macro Calculator to find your correct protein intake.
- Intermediate Fasting - Eating only in the morning and evening
- Paleo - Eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods, grains, dairy products, etc.
- Flexible Dieting - Eating what you want as long as you consistently hit your macros.
Look into all these diets and see what you like out of each one.
Maybe you like the idea of flexible dieting, but have trouble controlling how much you eat throughout the day. So doing something like intermediate fasting + Flexible Dieting is best.
You may want to implement some of the principles of a Paleo diet while also doing Keto at the same time.
It's up to you.
Look at the pros of each one and what's easiest for you to follow on a day to day basis and implement it. If you must, implement it gradually.
Note: You may have noticed I'm not naming things like a vegan diet or carnivore diet. The reason being is because I don't believe those are healthy diets and I wouldn't recommend them to people. I don't have references for it as of now and will write more about it in the future. Nonetheless, it's not something I would recommend unless you're absolutely supplementing correctly.
I may be missing other diets, but they all follow fairly similar guidelines to the ones I mentioned above except for some minor changes.
Write Down What Makes You Feel Good
This is a big one for me. Dieting is more sustainable if it makes you feel good and energetic. When you're eating foods, I want you to write down how it makes you feel afterward.
Do you feel satisfied and a good full after you ate that piece of Salmon? Awesome, write it down. Maybe that donut made you feel bloated and lethargic, probably not best to keep incorporating them.
This is kind of like an elimination diet but you're mainly doing it for how it makes you feel on a day to day basis. With any new food I eat, I will always be mindful of how it makes me feel within the next hour. If I'm feeling tired or low on energy, it's probably not something I'll continue to eat. However, if I feel great and even have energy afterward, then I'll incorporate it more.
Write down what you eat for a couple of weeks. Even take note of how your body is digesting it. If all is good, keep it in your diet. If it makes you feel bad or your body can't process it well, maybe it's best to scrap it.
If you've followed some of the tips above, you should be able to create a sustainable diet for yourself.
If you've found your caloric and macro range. You've also found foods that you like to eat within that range and you're eliminating foods that don't make you feel great overall.
Following those steps will allow you to have a sustainable diet overall and be consistent. You'll notice that it won't be hard for you to fall back on your diet after a crazy party you may have had on the weekend.
Finding a balance is key to a sustainable diet. Note, anything to any extreme end may be more difficult to follow.