When evaluating nutrition, many of us look into countless diet plans searching the golden, end all be all diet. … Keto diet, Whole 30, Dash Diet, Atkins, Weight-Watchers … Unfortunately, these diets may not be conducive to your specific needs, nor is there a one-size-fits-all meal plan. Using the following 5 questions can help you evaluate your current nutrition plan and help cue you to make necessary changes:
1. Do you feel good about your choices the majority of the time?
Feeling good about your food choices can be a bit subjective. While your nutritionist may tell you to eat nothing but spirulina and kale, scorn you for eating red meat, and shame you even smelling fast food, following a stringent, 100% clean meal plan is far from realistic for most. It is most important you focus on the quality of what you eat. This is where the 80/20 rule applies… 80% of your meal plan should meet the optimal you and support your health and fitness goals, while 20% helps keep you human and fulfills your cravings. Adhering to the flash diet for a few days is a great way see an objective view of what you eat. In short, snap photos of everything you eat over 2-3 days, then make a few visually apparent notes on what you eat.
2. Are you alert and have sufficient energy throughout the day?
Food is fuel. Eating a diet rich in phytonutrients, healthy fats and low glycemic carbohydrates is necessary to balance your energy levels. Glucose sensitivity can play a big part as well. If you are constantly eating high glycemic, liver loading carbs, your body can have a hard time dealing with the rampant influx of glucose, which can lead to dysfunction in balancing the insulin/glucagon response. Apple cider vinegar can be effective in supplementing a more acidic environment in your gut, leading to a lower blood glucose levels post meal. A healthier balance of your blood sugar while ensuring you are eating enough, of the right foods, can help regulate your energy requirements.
3. Are your health screenings within healthy standards (blood pressure, cholesterol, lipids, blood sugar, etc)?
There is no one size fits all diet that can be the cure all for everyone. Semi-annual blood screenings and yearly physicals can be great metrics to ensure your nutrition and health regimen are on par. Beyond testing for blood pressure, cholesterol, lipids, and blood sugar, assessing your hormonal and nutrient balance may suggest what foods you should reduce/add to your diet. In addition, it might be advantageous to have an inflammatory/allergen response test done by a local naturopath to see what foods might be a culprit in chronic inflammation.
4. Are you comfortable with your weight?
A question only you can answer. Be honest with yourself. How do you feel in your clothes, can you walk into the room confidently/comfortably, and can you do the things you love at the weight you carry? Assessing your body composition (body fat percentage, lean body mass, etc). can be a great metric to use and compare against healthy standards. Most Fitness Trainers should be able to assess your body comp using skinfold calipers, but you might also seek advice from your doctor who can direct you to hydrostatic weighing or bod pod, as these are among the most accurate assessments.
5. Does your meal plan support your health/fitness endeavors?
No matter your answers to the last 4 questions, a solid nutrition plan should support your health and fitness goals. If you’re an avid endurance athlete, you likely require more carbs that the average person. If you’re hitting the gym and looking to pack on muscle, your protein requirements are in greater demand than the average person. If you aren’t meeting your health/fitness goals, re-calculating your caloric and macronutrient needs may be a good place to start. In general, 50% carbs, 30% protein, 20% fat is a good balance for most active populations. For strength gains, eating 1g of protein per pound of body can help support an increase in your lean body mass. If you’re watching your waist line, a reduction in carbs and increase in plant based, healthy fats in combination with protein can help elicit weight loss.