On our walk the other night, William and I were discussing the idea of what makes a sustainable diet over an extreme diet (as I discussed in a recent post.) Here are my thoughts on what you should consider when selecting a way of eating that you can live with for the rest of your life. I believe that your answers to these questions can provide you with important direction on whatever way of eating feels right to you for the long term.
6 Keys for a Sustainable Diet
1. Do you enjoy the allowed foods?
- Meat-based Carnivore: do you love steak?
- Low-Carb/Keto: do you love eating variety of meat, dairy and green veggies?
- 800 Gram Challenge: do you love eating fruits and vegetables?
- Vegetarian Diet: does it make you happy to skip the meat?
- Your Favorite Diet here: look at the allowed foods; are you excited about what you will get to eat?
- And, is there anything missing from the diet that you just know could be your downfall in the future?
2. Does the diet make you feel good?
- Stable mood versus swings up and down
- Good energy versus feeling sluggish or fatigued
- Great sleep versus tossing and turning all night
- Focused, clear thinking versus brain fog or diet brain
- Good digestion with no stomach upset or constipation
- Pain-free (no pain triggered by allergies to ingredients in the diet)
- Promotes optimal health: healthy metabolic markers like blood pressure, H1AC, and other healthy markers suggested by your personal physician
3. Does the diet fit your lifestyle?
- Hate to cook? A diet that requires you to spend a lot of time cooking your meals may not be the right fit for you.
- Time constraints? Complicated recipes or frequent trips to the grocery store may not work for you.
- Need to pack food to bring to school or work? Can the food be prepped ahead of time without going bad? Does the food need to be heated, and if so, do you have access to a microwave or stove?
- Don't want to weigh and measure? Are the guidelines simple enough to follow that you can easily figure out portion sizes?
- Like to eat out? Can you name four restaurants in your area where you can enjoy a meal that will fit the guidelines of the diet?
- Enjoy an occasional celebration with family and friends? Do you see how the diet can fit and/or do you think the diet is flexible enough that an occasional day off the plan is okay?
4. Does the diet fit your budget?
- Does the diet require expensive specialty ingredients or supplements?
- Does the diet hinge on eating only organic foods?
- Are the foods on the diet easily accessible to you without extra cost?
5. Can the diet peacefully co-exist with your partner/family?
- Can you cook one meal with a modification or two and keep everyone nourished? For example, cook roast beef, potatoes, and green beans, and the low carbers can skip the potatoes.
- Are there "off plan" foods that you are fine keeping in the house?
- Will people in your social network be neutral (they just don't care that much) or supportive of your choices? If not, do you have a way to overcome this challenge?
6. When you think about eating this way for the next year, how do you feel?
- Hesitant and reluctant?
- Depressed and restricted?
- Bored or worried?
- Already know it's not going to work?
- Excited and hopeful?
- Positive and looking forward to finding ways to implement it?
- Interested in seeing how you will feel in a year?
- Your answers here: