Have you decided to start a new diet to shed off pounds? As you know, you are not alone; a lot of people are doing the very same thing right now. As a health coach, I know that most diets work, but the trick is to follow them. Because so few people are able to follow diets, if you decide to start a new diet, it is best to also learn how to make it work for you.
There are a couple of times a year when it is time to start a new diet. It seems that there is a collective desire that has been accumulating and at those times it comes to light. Of course we know that those times are when the media decides to push these ideas. When it comes to starting a new diet in America, nothing beats January, some time before bikini time and school opening time. The question is, if we are starting new diets all the time what is happening? Do diets work, and how can we lose weight.
Avoid fad diets
The latest fad diets are tempting. These diets respond to our desire for easy, quick and indulgent weight loss. During midlife, with perimenopause and menopause issues, to lose weight is even more difficult. If we follow diets without taking some precautions we may setup ourselves for failure and frustration, and it could be make worse the existing midlife hormonal imbalance.
Let’s review some important considerations before starting a new diet during perimenopause and menopause.
1- Do not increase stress
Stress is a major culprit for menopausal and perimenopause symptoms. Every time we start a new diet we are going to create stress, but it is important to try to reduce it. We can do that by selecting well the new diet we want to follow and planning ahead of time.
The more different the diet is from our current lifestyle, the greater the stress. Diets that require rare or expensive ingredients can also cause extra stress.
2- Drastic diets
Starting a new diet that reduces calorie intake to an extremely low level is not recommended at any time, but they are especially bad during menopause and perimenopause. These are low calorie diets of about 1200 calories a day or less. These diets put stress on your internal organs, produce imbalance in your gut bacteria and upset your hormonal balance, and therefore, your metabolism.
On top of that, they are mostly ineffective, because the rapid weight loss is difficult to maintain and the roller coaster of gaining and losing weight is terrible for your health and beauty. Nothing causes more sagging on the face than this.
Most health and wellness experts agree that the safest and most effective way to lose excess weight is to create healthy habits. It is easier to maintain a balanced diet and lose weight little by little. This becomes a new lifestyle and the weight stabilizes. For most people this means reducing daily calorie intake by about 500 to 1000 calories. This can be easily achieved by changing just a few things in your menus, such as less sugar and less empty carbohydrates such as white bread, cookies, etc.
3- Our weight is not only about calories
In theory, the statement above works (reducing calories), but in real life for women after 40, it doesn’t work as well as it used to. The reason is hormones. In addition to a new diet, we need to add some other lifestyle aspects, such as regular exercise, enough sleep, low stress, and make sure we are consuming all required nutrients. All of these have a very positive effect on our hormones and this way the hormones work to help us lose weight instead of against us by protecting the layers of fat in the body.
Which new diet is best for you?
This is a very personal thing. As a health coach, I have been taught not to give out diets, but to teach habits. But I understand that many people like to follow a diet. If you decide to follow a new diet here are some considerations to make it more successful:
If you start a new diet try to join a group either online or in person. This motivates, helps to clarify doubts, and there is accountability. A new diet always works better with adequate support.
During menopause and perimenopause, our first goal is hormonal balance, because an imbalance can make life miserable and pose health risks as well as more weigh. Another goal should be optimal health; make sure your new diet includes all essential nutrients. You don’t want to follow a new diet that weakens your bones, for example.
Another goal is, of course, weight lost. Weight loss is almost a by-product of a healthy diet. Before you start a new diet make sure that you understand how much weight you can lose so you can plan accordingly.
If you are taking medications, by all means ask your doctor if you can follow the selected diet. If your new diet requires any supplements make sure they don’t interact with your medications.
4- Risk factors
Some new diets like the Ketogenic diet can present some risk factors. Make sure you understand them and plan how you will lower those risks.
5- It is a scientific diet
Be careful with new diets that claim to be scientific. There are a lot of people who get convinced that only their diet works and they cite medical journals and research to prove it. But in reality if you watch those health documentaries, you will see how they contradict each other, for example, vegan versus Paleolithic. This happens because they cherry-pick studies to prove their point and ignore studies that contradict their premise.
When it comes to nutrition we don’t have a lot of science to back up all those recommendations out there. Nutrition is an evolving field, and therefore, we have to do our best and keep our minds open.
Some new diets are very expensive. Some nutrition coaches and other health experts order tests, recommend expensive ingredients and exotic, costly foods. Most of the time this is unnecessary.
I can tell you that I could make more money ordering genetic or allergy tests and I don’t do it because these tests are problematic, they are neither reliable nor very scientific. These tests are new and unproven and they are better kept for special cases when there are unresolved health problems; for weight loss, the old fashioned formulas work well.
Some new diets require expensive ingredients such as macadamia oil, a super special butter that costs $40 a pound. These type of ingredients are just not necessary. A new diet should always allow substitutions to adjust to your budget and taste.
Success in your new diet
If you have decided to try a new diet I wish you luck and an easy journey. I have a lot of articles about midlife weight loss and I invite you to read them to make a good decision.
I always say we are more than the food we eat; our happiness and wellbeing are important too.
“If you do what is easy, your life will be hard. If you do what is hard, your life will be easy.” (Les Brown) And to be honest, all feels hard at first, and it all becomes easier as we develop the Habit