Dietary Restrictions - The why not, how to and more!
I’m not a fan of Dietary Restrictions, possibly because of the fact that the majority of times clients make dietary restrictions they are either as a result of a drastic, ‘last chance’ attempt at achieving a goal they have tried already, usually weight loss or because of medical reasons which are never fun!
I’m going to discuss voluntary dietary restrictions first, talk about the why, the how (if we must) and discuss the latter, restrictions for medical reasons in the hope that this blog post will educate, guide and most importantly help some of my readers make some informed positive changes.
his is new for me so please leave a feedback comment and let me know if it was useful or if you find lengthier explanations more helpful.
Why they Often fail:
- Restrictions are most commonly a last ditch attempt to achieve a goal… last ditch attempts are often not well thought out or researched
- Dietary Restrictions are often based on a ‘it worked for her’ or ‘she said’ do this. Unless you have the same genetics, lifestyle and mind-set you’re likely to have different dietary requirements and results. Also unless the she that said was a nutritionist, dietitian or other healthcare professional I’d recommend you question and research before applying advice to yourself
- Often the outcomes of a dietary restriction aren’t considered, outcomes aside the ones you want to happen. Eg if I cut carbs I’ll lose weight… (not good advice) but have you considered the loss of energy, tiredness and headaches associated
- Alternatives not put in place which increases the negative effects and creates an unsustainable situation that reverses once you lift the restriction which inevitably leaves you either slowly reverting back to square one or trying another last ditch attempt diet…
I could go on with that list for a lot longer but it is going to be more helpful if I give you The How now!
Dietary Restrictions aren’t always a bad thing, especially if you are already making poor food choices, it can be a good idea to make changes so here are a few tips to guide you along the way.
- Isolate the cause of what you want to change – This is where the research comes in, it may take time but will ultimately save you time, effort and tears if it stops you from a lengthy diet that has no impact on your goals.
- Consider other variables, are these restrictions really going to make a difference, are other factors contributing to your problems, is there a more balanced approach you can take?
- Plan - if you are going to make dietary restrictions make sure you’ve researched, have a plan with timescales that you don’t move, is quantifiable so you can measure the impact and has regular milestones so you can continue to assess the viability of what you are doing. Nobody wants to find out at the end of a 12 week programme that it’s not having any impact.
- BALANCE - Probably the most important piece of advice can give! Make sure if you are restricting something from your diet that you are ensuring you get the same energy, nutrient and hydration levels from a healthier alternative. Do you understand your macros and what you need to sustain your required activity whether it’s taking the kids on the park or going for a 20 mile run? If this is a long term restriction do you have an alternative in place to help you maintain the restriction?
- Emotions – Have you considered how the restriction is likely to make you feel? This may seem like a strange consideration but considering that our actions are usually based on and impacted by how we feel this is important to the achievement of our goals and in turn sustainability of our achievements.
For example if you are restricting sugar from your diet and this is because you consume excess sugar as a result of comfort eating a sudden restriction is going to not only impact on your mood due to a drop of energy levels but is likely to doubly impact due to a lack of dopamines released as a result of consumption.
There are two solutions in this situation. Address the reasons for your reliance on sugar as a temporary source of happiness… or replace sugar with something healthier that also makes you happy like a healthy food that you enjoy eating.
Consider the following:
- therapeutic activities like hobbies
- relaxing activities that could simply be meditation or taking a walk or a well-deserved bath.
- Exercise is a fantastic way to increase satisfaction and elevate mood based on endorphins released during and after exercise and the overall sense of satisfaction.
There are also the clinical reasons for restrictions.
Unfortunately I fall in to this category with lactose intolerance. I have found that it makes a lot of food groups I used to enjoy inaccessible to me but there is hope in that I am trying alternatives and finding new foods to enjoy that I never would have before and the obvious fact that the benefits in improvement to quality of life far outweigh the desire to eat foods I used to like!
With an increasing culture of ‘it worked for her’ and ‘it must be that’ created by a desire from unqualified individuals to help other people, unfortunately in some situations a desire to generate income based on providing a solution and the ability to google all kinds of information and apply without understanding relevance it is increasingly important to get a medical diagnosis.
This may take longer but if you have been tested and the diagnosis comes from a doctor you’re not going to find yourself going round in circles and wasting vast amounts of your life going round in circles trying potentially unnecessary solutions for long periods of time.
Briefly expanding on testing, when it comes to medical issues caused or impacted on by diet it is vital to get formally tested, there are many home testing kits available that are very well advertised as accurate that simply aren’t.
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