Short answer: The one you stick with.
Everywhere you turn there is a new eating plan. Many are just repurposed versions of methods that have been around for decades. There is so much conflicting “research” that it’s difficult to discern what’s good for you and what’s a “fad” – or even what’s a “fad” that’s also good for you. And by now we all know you can find research to back up ANYTHING you want to think is a good idea so just because a method is “scientifically proven” doesn’t mean… really anything.
Over the years I’m pretty sure I’ve tried some version of every diet imaginable. The two things I KNOW to be true are:
- Added processed sugar is bad news.
- Mindless eating is a dangerous pitfall.
Perhaps for your New Year’s Resolutions, you chose a plan that didn’t fit into your lifestyle. Or maybe you bit off more than you could chew trying to deprive or eliminate EVERYTHING all at once instead of taking baby steps toward your goals. There is a simpler (and easier!) way to make strides toward your goals. There is a saying that the marginal plan you stick with is better than the perfect plan you abandon.
To take a page out of my friend Josh Hillis‘s playbook, I’m going to challenge you to keep a food journal for 10 days. I’m not going to ask you to choose to be “Paleo” or do a “Whole30” or be a vegetarian or follow any other plan that’s out there. For just ten days, I’m asking you to write every single thing you eat down on paper (or in an app) and explore why and what you are eating.
By being accountable to yourself you will second guess your choices and become more aware of your habits and patterns. Here are some questions to consider when you are recording your food:
- Why am I eating? (i.e. Am I hungry or bored? Did I just grab a handful of Goldfish crackers when making my kid’s lunch and almost not realize it?)
- Is this the best choice I have available to me? If not, is it meaningful and delicious? (For example, I talk a lot about my Aunt Teri’s carrot cake. It’s not the best option available but I see her MAYBE three times a year and I eat her carrot cake without thinking twice about whether or not it’s the best option.)
- Is eating this food moving me towards or away from my goals? There are no neutral foods. Everything you eat is either getting you closer to your goal or moving you away from it. Please do not interpret this as you need to starve yourself. I find a lot of dieters actually eat too few calories. Here I’m talking about the food choices within your calories consumed.
You don’t need to show your food journal to ANYONE. This exercise is to learn about yourself and your patterns and where you can make small steps toward lasting change. Try it out for just ten days and see what you figure out!