Does your diet 'fit' you? Deciding to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan is one of the best things you can do to take care of yourself. But before you start, there are a few things you should consider to increase your chances of long-term success. Starting a new plan is usually the easy part—sticking to it can be tough, especially if the plan doesn’t fit your lifestyle, budget or other needs. Here are seven things you should think about to make sure your diet plan is a good fit.
What's Your Lifestyle?
Before deciding on a diet plan, think realistically about your current lifestyle. How much free time do you have each week to prepare meals, exercise and track progress? Will your work and social schedules allow for eating dinner before a specific time every day? Do you travel often? Will you always have access to a kitchen during mealtimes? Do you usually eat on the go? If so, choose your diet plan accordingly.
Your diet plan should fit your schedule and your lifestyle without too many radical changes, like requiring lengthy meal preparation if you dislike cooking or limiting your options too severely if you eat out often. If you aim to pick a diet plan that works with your lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to stick with it long term and be successful. Think about the areas in which you are willing to compromise, and be honest with yourself about what you are not willing or able to change about your lifestyle to make room for a new, healthier you.
What's Your Eating Style?
Eating out, meal frequency, dietary preference, nutritional needs and dietary restrictions are all factors in a successful diet plan. If you eat at restaurants more frequently than you cook or prefer to grab something quick on the way out the door in the morning instead of making breakfast, it may be unrealistic for you to try a diet plan that involves complex recipes and strict meals at home. Do you prefer 3 large meals a day, or more frequent, smaller meals? Choosing a diet plan that complements your eating style will help you stay satisfied and increase your chances for success. Also, consider your dietary preferences and restrictions when choosing a diet plan and make sure it includes enough suitable options to keep you healthy and satisfied throughout the day.
What Are Your Nutritional Needs?
Some diet programs promise quick results, but at what cost? There are many diets that focus on eating a very limited variety of foods or restricting calories to an unhealthy extreme. Results from extreme diet plans and poor nutrition plans often don’t last. The best diets are those that meet your nutritional and caloric needs with a wide variety of healthy, natural foods.
Lasting results are not achieved through extreme diets and poor nutrition. They are achieved by establishing healthy habits you can stick with long term and making sure your nutritional needs are continuously met for optimal health. Consult with your primary care physician, plus a dietitian, to identify your nutritional needs, which can vary based on age, environment, lifestyle, family health history and overall health. If your diet can’t meet your nutritional needs, take a multivitamin and mineral supplements to help you fill in nutrient gaps and help you stay healthy.
What Are Your Expectations & Diet Goals?
Your diet choice should depend heavily on your goals and expectations. Are you looking to gain muscle or tone up? If so, you might look for a diet that is high in lean protein and ways to add in more protein with lean protein powders. Are you trying to lose weight? A diet that meets your nutritional needs through smaller meals throughout the day could be an option for you. No matter what your nutritional and fitness goals are, there is an eating plan that will help you achieve them.
If you aren’t sure where to start, talk with a dietitian for help. And when you set your goals, consider setting smaller, incremental goals that will help you reach your ultimate goal. Setting and reaching smaller goals will keep you motivated and on track for meeting your larger goals.
What's Your Workout Plan?
Are you owning your workout? Your exercise plan is an important piece of the fitness puzzle and it should be tailored to YOUR health and wellness needs. Sure, your neighbor may love cardio boxing, and kettle bells, but it’s important for you to find a workout routine that is engaging and aligns with your own goals and diet plan.
You should have an exercise plan even if your goals don’t include weight loss, because exercise is good for you in so many ways. It helps you maintain strength and flexibility. It boosts circulation, which helps nutrients reach your organs and muscles more easily. Exercise also helps your body rid itself of toxins, and it may give your skin a vibrant, healthy glow.
Most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) each week, as well as strength training exercises for major muscles groups at least twice a week.1 Reach out to a personal trainer as needed for expert advice and motivation to determine the right workout plan for your goals and diet plan.
What’s Your Budget?
Another important factor to consider is your budget. There are healthy diet and exercise plans that will fit every budget, but if your plan includes a gym membership, new equipment, specialty ingredients or supplements, it might also come with a hefty price tag.
Restocking your pantry to make way for a revamped eating plan can get pricey if you try to do it all at once, and it could be difficult to maintain. Keep that in mind as you decide on a diet plan and make healthy food and beverage choices that fit your budget. Review your food budget and estimate your weekly or monthly food expenses, determining if that budget is sustainable. And be realistic. A manageable budget is key to long-term success. If needed, explore cheaper alternatives to minimize budget stress.
How Does Eating Healthy Fit into Your Day?
By choosing a diet and exercise plan that fits your lifestyle and eating styles while also meeting your nutritional needs and suiting your budget, you will be well on your way to meeting your goals. It might sound like a lot to think about, but achieving maintainable results are worth it. Tell us how you fit healthy eating into your day in the comments below!
Looking for more A-Z Wellness related content? See Brilliant Beauty Basics: Our Top Five Ingredients for Brilliant Hair, Skin and Nails.
About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products
Lindsey is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.
Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.
1 How much should the average adult exercise every day? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916 (Accessed 12/12/2017)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.