Alright, everybody, time to let me know what eating or exercise plan you would like to see reviewed by Dietitian on a Diet next!

Pining to learn about plant-based diets? Itching to try HIIT training? Freaking out about FODMAPs? Or maybe I’ve offended you in some way and you want me to go through 3 weeks of something awful…but hopefully not.

I’ll take your ideas and create a poll where you can vote to decide my next nutrition or exercise plan. Then I’ll read through and summarize the research on the plan and post it for you, then follow it myself for 3 weeks (as long as it’s not dangerous). I’ll share my experiences, comments, suggestions, and opinions throughout so you can decide if a plan (or part of a plan) might work for you.

In the past, I’ve featured the following:

 

So what do you want to see next? It can be any fad diet, trendy new exercise plan, or recommendations for managing a chronic condition.

Let me know how I can help you make informed, evidence-based health choices by commenting below!


To Diet or Not to Diet

 

Floating around social media the last few days I’ve seen several articles on either side of the “diet” coin:

“Why you shouldn’t diet in 2018”

“Top 6 Diets of 2018”

“Don’t diet this January”

You may have a goal to be healthier and take care of yourself this year – many people do, and that’s great! So, should you “diet”?

A lot of nutrition and fitness coaches will tell you that diets never work and that you need only listen to your body, feed it when it wants food, and don’t when it doesn’t (often called intuitive eating). That works really well for people who are in tune with their bodies, have normally established hunger cues, and like to eat healthful foods. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many of the clients I work with. These habits and hunger cues can be learned, but it takes time and it’s a frustrating road for a lot of people. Everyone is different, which is why I’ve learned to avoid all or nothing statements like “diets never work.”

At some point, this kind of comes down to semantics.

You can call it a diet, you can call it a lifestyle change, you can call it an eating plan, but ultimately what matters is whether or not it works with and for YOU.

I’ve seen people try strict diet plans that don’t fit their lifestyles, fight tooth and nail to stick to them, and feel totally defeated when they can’t seem to make it work. I’ve also seen people try to eat intuitively without any boundaries or guidelines and flounder, frustrated that they don’t seem to be making any progress.

On the other hand, when people find the right balance of structure and freedom to fit their lifestyles – it’s magic. They have a plan that is tailored to work with their unique personalities, budgets, families, and favorite foods. They are achieving their goals and they’re happy and feel great doing it. This is the elusive magical unicorn of healthful eating.

It can be a daunting task to find your own magical unicorn, so I’ve compiled some tips to help you out. Without further ado, here are 5 ways to know if an eating plan is right for you:

1. It’s not miserable/exhausting.

It makes me sad that I even have to say this, but it happens all the time. People put themselves through psychological and physical torture because they think it’s the only way to achieve their health goals – not so! The right plan will not make you sad and miserable, or be so labor intensive that you can barely keep up. If you love all kinds of food, for example, paleo wouldn’t be a good choice – you’ll be miserable saying no to so many things you love. If you have eaten breakfast your entire life and are hungry every few hours, intermittent fasting probably isn’t for you (you can read about my experience with that here). If you hate numbers and don’t like tedious tracking, don’t count calories! You’ll hate it!

Choose or design a plan that works with your individual preferences and quirks.

2. You’re not hungry all the time.

We’re trying to make your body healthy and happy. Constant underlying hunger is not conducive to either of those goals. ‘Nuff said.

3. It doesn’t restrict your social life.

Your eating plan should work beautifully into your social life. You should never skip out on girls’ or guys’ night because you are “on a diet.” You may end up ordering differently than you have in the past (or not!) but your social life is a huge part of a healthy life too. Don’t let an overly restrictive eating plan intended to make you healthier screw up other aspects of your health. You can read about my experiences with a social life-crushing diet here. It’s not worth it, trust me.

4. It includes all the foods you enjoy except legitimate allergies or intolerances, at least some of the time.

There is absolutely no reason to cut out entire categories of foods to lose weight. Certain medical conditions excepted, you should never have a list of foods you’re “not allowed” to eat. First of all, psychologically, you’re setting yourself up for the trap of only wanting what you “can’t” have. Second, why be more restrictive than is necessary? The ideal plan is the least restrictive plan that still heads you toward your goals. You may eat certain things less often and in smaller portions, but avoid plans that label foods as “good/allowed” and “bad/not allowed.”

5. You’re making progress.

Obviously, your plan needs to be making you healthier or what’s the point? Now I need to stress something very, very important here. Very important. Huge. Please don’t skip over this:

Progress comes in many forms, and most of them are not on the scale.

Please, please, please don’t gauge your success or failure only on your weight. A healthful eating plan should improve your health in so many other ways: Are you eating more vegetables? Do you have more energy? Do you sleep better? Is your skin clearer? Do you find yourself snacking less after dinner? Do your clothes fit better? Is your mindset more positive? Do you have less pain?

All of these are potential benefits of improved eating habits, and they’re nothing to sniff at! Be aware of them, because weight can be a fickle mistress, but health is so, so much more than weight.

So before you start a new eating plan this year, make sure it fits these criteria. As always, if you feel overwhelmed or lost at the idea of trying to find an eating plan that works for you, find a dietitian who can help you find a plan that fits your life. If you’re in Washington state, I’d be honored to work with you! Click here if you’re interested.

Have a happy, healthy new year!

 


It’s here! The Dietitian on a Diet/i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness giveaway challenge begins today! To participate for the chance to win a beautiful goal-tracking planner/journal from The Simple Elephant, planner stickers, and a set of Papermate Inkjoy pens, follow Dietitian on a Diet on Instagram or like Dietitian on a Diet on Facebook, and follow the instructions on my giveaway post

Today’s challenge: DREAM BIG! Choose an area of your life (could be wellness, career, family – anything!) you’d like to work on, and dream big for your future! Take some time and be detailed! Don’t let your past fears or failures get in the way today. Imagine if you had absolutely no barriers and could achieve anything you wanted, what would this area of your life look like?  As Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once said, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
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For me, I’m dreaming big about the future of my blog and business. I would love to help more people live the healthy lives they dream of! One of the specific ways I want to do that in 2018 is to fill my readers’ requests for a Dietitian on a Diet/i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness cookbook! My dream big: I would have a fun, user-friendly cookbook with a variety of at least 100 healthful recipes that is available as a physical book or e-book. The cookbook will also help readers learn the thought processes behind eating well – that way they can build the confidence to play with healthful food in their kitchen beyond the recipes in the book itself! If I’m really dreaming big, the cookbook is a hit and (side bonus) becomes a steady source of passive income for my family.
Your turn: pick an area of your life, dream big about your future in that area, and post/comment away! Remember you can double your chances of winning by making two separate goals: one on Facebook and one on Instagram!

 


Of course you do!

Giveaway Alert!

 

 

Join me for a 2018 goal-setting challenge on Facebook and Instagram – play on both and you’ll DOUBLE your chance of winning! The challenge starts 12/26 and will run until 12/31. I’ll post some goal-setting tips, you’ll set a goal, and someone will win this beautiful goal-tracking planner/journal by The Simple Elephant and a set of Papermate Inkjoy pens!

Like Dietitian on a Diet on Facebook and follow Dietitian on a Diet on Instagram for all the details!



Based on my experience with intermittent fasting, I have discovered a few characteristics of a person who might really thrive on intermittent fasting. Check out the list below to see if you might be one of them!

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Photo from eclipseadvantage.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Likely Good Candidates:

  • Absent or minimal hunger cues or doesn’t mind being hungry – I often hear “I often forget to eat” or “I could go all day without eating”
  • Not usually hungry in the morning/prefers to skip breakfast
  • Dislikes the structure of tracking calories daily
  • Prefers limiting intakes significantly sometimes and not regulating at all at other times
  • Schedule that allows eating at “unconventional” times (for 16:8 protocol)
  • Goals might include: weight loss, decreased inflammation, reduced risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s

 

Likely Not Good Candidates:

  • Frequent hunger (every 3-4 hours or less)
  • Regular breakfast eater
  • Prefers more structured eating regimen
  • Prefers moderating intakes a little each day to an “all or nothing” mindset
  • Goals might include: weight loss, muscle gain, reduced risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s

If you want to learn more about creating a personalized plan to meet your goals and fit your lifestyle, visit my practice website and set up an appointment!


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Today marks the completion of my first week on intermittent fasting! I’m sitting here waiting for my eating window to open, so I figured I might as well hammer out a blog post. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go here to read about my intermittent fasting experiment. Here’s a quick rundown on my week:

How it went:

It’s been a little rough, to be honest. I’m starving in the mornings waiting to eat, pretty much no matter what I’ve eaten the night before. My hunger was a little better when I hit my macros perfectly (or darn close) the day before. At the beginning of a day, it feels impossible to be satisfied once I start eating, then I find myself stuffed with only two hours left to go in my eating window. Then I’m feeling like I should eat because my window is about to close and I know I’ll be starving in the morning if I don’t eat. As I am generally a promoter of intuitive eating (creating an eating schedule based around your body’s own natural hunger cues), this is totally backwards to me. I’m not eating when I am hungry, and I’m eating when I’m not hungry. Not to mention the fact that when I’m starving, I’m much less likely to choose healthy options. For me, my desire for Cajun tots and nachos with cheap, plasticky cheese is directly proportional to the length of time I’ve been hungry. Thus, I struggled to stay within my fat goal. Hunger cues are adaptable, so I’m curious to see if these issues improve in the next two weeks.

I haven’t been hungry most evenings, even though I stop eating at 6 pm and don’t go to bed until around 10 pm. That’s not too much of a surprise, since I’m typically hungry every 4 hours or so normally.

One pleasant surprise: working out while fasted has not been that tough. I like to work out in the mornings and did not want to change that schedule even though I was fasting, but I was worried. I get low blood sugar, especially when exercising, so I was really concerned about completing my normal workouts while fasted. Turns out, working out actually distracted me a bit from my hunger. I did schedule my workouts to end right at 10 am as my eating window opened, because I’m always extra hungry right after my workout. That part has been going great!

What I’ve learned:

Intermittent fasting is probably a great option for a certain type of person – an intermittent fasting “candidate,” if you will. This person is probably not used to eating breakfast or can easily skip breakfast without too much notice, likes to eat larger meals, doesn’t have issues with high or low blood sugar, and has irregular or non-existent hunger cues.

On top of that, a good fasting candidate has a schedule that can work with their fasting instead of against it. Because I work from home, I am mostly able to eat when my window opens, but I have thought about the fact that if I were working my former full-time job, it would be very difficult to follow intermittent fasting. I can’t imagine waiting any longer to eat than 10 am, and 10 am would not be a realistic time to eat at my desk job.

It’s also possible that this person has a sedentary lifestyle so they do not need to eat often to meet their energy needs. I often teach about matching energy needs with energy intake throughout the day, which is tough to do if you’re active for 12 hours but only able to eat for 8.

If these characteristics describe you, you may be a great candidate for intermittent fasting.

How I did and what changed:

  Goal Week #1 Week #2 Week #3
# of days 16-hour fast was achieved 7 6    
Average daily protein intake 90 grams 85.4 grams    
Average daily carb intake 225 grams 209 grams    
Average daily fat intake 60 grams 73.2 grams    
Weight change   0 lbs    
Body fat % change   -.5%    
Waist measurement change   -1″    
Hip measurement change   0”    
Thigh measurement change   -1″  

 

Even though my weight stayed the same, I did lose an inch from my waist and another from my thighs during this week. One of the claims of intermittent fasting is that it will promote fat loss, particularly in the abdominal area. My scant week on the diet shows that could be the case! Keep checking in for more updates on what the research says about intermittent fasting.


Yesterday was my first day following an intermittent fasting lifestyle. I’m using a 16:8 protocol – if you want to know more about that, you can read my last post here. I chose to make my eating window from 10 am to 6 pm. Read on to see how the first day went!

6:30 am Woke up. Usually this is when I get my breakfast ready, but not today! Got my boys sent off to school.

7:00 am Made and drank some green tea. Since I’m a big breakfast eater I was a little concerned that waiting until 10 am would be a struggle. I made genmaicha green tea because it’s made with toasted rice and has a bit of a savory flavor – I thought maybe it would help trick me into thinking it’s a little more substantial. Then I got to wondering: genmaicha has actual bits of toasted rice steeped in it…does it have calories or carbohydrates?? Had to look it up. Good news – it has neither! Genmaicha is good to go during my fasting window.

7:30 am Had my first teeny desire to eat. Drank more tea.

8:00 am This is my normal workout time. I decided to postpone it half an hour so that I could eat right after my workout. In the past I haven’t done well working out on an empty stomach. We’ll see…

8:30 am Workout time. Tummy is growling big time…I’m 32 oz. of tea in. This not eating has been great for my hydration!

10 am Food! Finally! Toast with avocado, poached egg, curry, and garlic.IMG_3796

10:30 am Still feeling hungry – I went ahead and made my typical post-workout protein smoothie and drank it. Still not totally satisfied.

11:45 am Ate lunch – leftover salmon, stuffing, and salad. Still not satisfied…this is getting old already. I need to work on adjusting my portions to fit a smaller eating window.

2:30 pm Feeling hungry, ate a yogurt.

4 pm Realized I have to start dinner soon if I’m going to get it ready, take my son to practice, and eat before 6 pm. That will take some getting used to!

5:30 pm Ate dinner – whole wheat pasta, chicken breast, and roasted vegetable sauce. I got a little panicky about the thought of not eating until 10 tomorrow so I overdid it a bit…I had two bowls of pasta then chased them with some apples and caramel sauce. I ended up hitting my protein goal for the day but being a bit behind on calories (200 calories), carbohydrates (20 g), and fat (12 g). I felt stuffed.

7:30 pm I’m still stuffed, but it’s nice to be all done with worrying about cooking, cleaning, and snacking so early in the night.

 



Do you have a favorite family recipe that you’d like to improve on? Are you interested in learning how to be a more mindful and health-conscious cook? Use this list of cooking substitutions to improve the nutritional quality of your favorite recipe!

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Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Think of substitutions in cooking as “trial and error.” Sometimes they’ll work out great and other times they might flop, but it’s all part of the process. Every recipe is different – you’ll never know unless you try!
  • If you’re tweaking an old favorite recipe, try changing just 1-2 ingredients at a time. Then, if it doesn’t turn out, you’ll know which change didn’t work.

Happy cooking (and eating)!

If your recipe calls for… Try this instead… For this nutritional benefit…
Condensed milk or evaporated milk Evaporated skim milk
  • Fewer calories
  • Less saturated fat
Sour cream Nonfat plain Greek yogurt or (depending on the texture desired) nonfat cottage cheese
  • More protein
  • Less saturated fat (compared to whole sour cream)
Cream cheese Neufchâtel cheese (find it right next to the cream cheese in most grocery stores)
  • Fewer calories
  • Less saturated fat
Bacon Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, or lean prosciutto
  • Fewer calories
  • Less saturated fat
  • Less sodium
Mashed potatoes Steamed, pureéd cauliflower
  • Fewer carbohydrates
  • Fewer calories
  • More vitamins and minerals
Potatoes Sweet potatoes
  • More vitamins
White rice or pasta Whole grain pasta, brown rice, bulgur, couscous, barley
  • More fiber
  • More vitamins and minerals
  • More stable blood sugar response
No vegetables Add any vegetables you have around!
  • More fiber
  • More vitamins and minerals
  • Improved satisfaction after the meal with fewer calories eaten (veggies take up a lot of space!)
Butter Canola oil or avocado oil
  • More omega-3s and healthful monounsaturated fats
  • Less saturated fat
Salt Herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, basil, chives, garlic), spices (turmeric, cumin, curry, lemon pepper, black pepper), lemon juice, or use half the salt
  • Less sodium
  • More anti-inflammatory properties