The MOST Important Part Of Selecting Foods & Adjusting Your DietRemember how I was able to answer all of those questions about diet organization and meal structure before with one simple statement?
Well, guess what? I’m going to do it again with this new set of questions…
Choose foods and adjust your diet in whatever way is most enjoyable, sustainable and all around preferable for you. Whatever you need to do to ensure you consistently eat the right total amount of calories and nutrients each day (and get those nutrients primarily from higher quality sources)… THAT’S what you should do.In all honesty, that’s the true best answer to any question you ever have about which foods you should and shouldn’t eat and what diet adjustments you should and shouldn’t make.
What’s funny (or just sad) about this is that while virtually all of the smartest people in the nutrition field will usually agree with this statement 100%, it’s a stance that is definitely part of the minority.
How could that be, you ask? Well, brace yourself, it’s about to get scary in here…
Welcome To The Cult-Like World Of Diets & Food ChoicesIf there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the last 10+ years, it’s that the diet world is a strange, religiously fanatical, cult-like place.
Every single nutrition related concept has its own group of “followers” who all share the same opinions, beliefs and preferences that surround that way of eating.
And, every single one of those groups feels that THEIR way is the BEST way for EVERYONE.
It doesn’t just fit their preferences. It’s not just ideal for their needs. It’s not just what’s right for them. No… it’s what’s universally right for everyone!
These people gather in groups via forums and blogs to praise and promote their ways and piss on everyone else’s. It’s their way or the highway… period.
Most groups have some type of a leader (or leaders)… usually some fitness guru, author, doctor, trainer, strength coach, big name blogger or something similar who is usually the person (or persons) most responsible for putting those methods out there in the first place for all of these cult-like groups to form around.
Coincidentally, that’s also usually the person making the most money from the use of those methods. But, that’s a fun topic for another day. Back to the diet cults themselves…
I’m Right, You’re Wrong! Na Na Na Na Na Na!Most of these kinds of people don’t get along at all with those who are outside of their little diet circle. It’s kind of like a stereotypical high school movie where the nerds all sit at one table and the jocks all sit at another and generally hate each other.
Now just replace “nerds” and “jocks” with “low carb fanatics” or “anti-grain people” or “paleo dieters” or “vegans/vegetarians” or “raw foodists” or “gluten-free people” or “100% clean eaters” or any of the other seemingly infinite number of groups who feel that their dietary preferences are far superior to everyone else’s.
(Before you send your angry email, please note that I’m not saying that everyone who eats a certain way is like this. I’m just talking specifically about the ones that are.)
Every group has a specific set of foods that are allowed and another set of foods that are restricted. Compare one group’s list with another’s and you’ll see that the foods one group tells you NOT to eat are the very same foods the other group says you SHOULD eat.
Crazy, right? Trust me, it’s crazier than you can even imagine.
And so the low carb people fight and argue with the moderate/high carb people, the grain eaters fight and argue with the anti-grain eaters, sane people fight and argue with the anti-fruit people, and so on and so on and so on.
In the end, no one ever gets anywhere. Each diet cult is set in its ways to the point where they can never become unconvinced that the way they choose to eat may not be the ideal way for EVERYONE to choose to eat.
What Causes These Fanatical Diet Groups To Exist?There’s a ton of different reasons each diet group allows, restricts, or places other specific guidelines on certain foods or food groups.
In most cases however, here’s what I’ve found to be the most common causes:
- Misunderstanding (and/or cherry picking) of research. Studies are done all the time, and I spend A LOT of time reading and sorting through them all on an almost daily basis. The thing is, many of these studies are just crap, and their conclusions are hardly ever truly conclusive. However, if you take some inconclusive research and put it in front of a crazy diet fanatic, they will often (and gladly) spin it however it needs to be spun (or just misunderstand it altogether) to help prove that their way of eating is superior. These are the same people who will then usually ignore all of the other research showing that their way of eating may not be so superior after all.
- It’s problematic for certain people. You see, certain foods are indeed problematic for certain people. There legitimately are food allergies, intolerances, and other digestive issues that do affect SOME people. Many crazy diet cults are built around this very fact. However, rather than just say “if you have a problem with Food X, don’t eat Food X,” they instead like to say “No one should EVER eat Food X EVER!!! It’s the devil!!! It’s killing us all!!!! Run and hide!!!!” Why do they do this? Because crazy people do and say crazy things… and these people are all definitely crazy. I personally have issues digesting diary, but you’ll never hear me say “don’t eat dairy.” You’ll only hear me say “don’t eat dairy IF you have a problem digesting dairy.” Why? Because I prefer common sense over insanity.
- Personal beliefs. Some people, for whatever reason, feel that certain foods just aren’t supposed to be eaten. For example, vegans/vegetarians, paleo dieters, and even certain religions. Honestly, that’s all fine by me. However, often times it’s not good enough for them to follow through with their own personal beliefs. They feel you should too. Who cares what you do and do not believe or feel is right or wrong… this is how they feel, so you should feel that way too.
- Personal requirements. Some people need to “eat clean” and avoid “dirty foods,” never touch a white potato or white bread, never drink alcohol, never have a cheat meal, never eat after 7pm, never eat less than 6 small meals per day, and so on. Why? Because it’s what helps them stick to their diet. Some people will stray too far from the way they are supposed to be eating if they do (or avoid doing) certain things. Basically, it’s what they’ve found works best for THEM. So, do they say “hey everyone, here’s what works best for me!” No. They say “this is what works best… period.” They automatically feel their dietary requirements should be EVERYONE’S dietary requirements.
- Personal preferences. Some people just like/dislike eating a certain way more than other ways. It’s just their personal preference. Sometimes it’s specific foods, and sometimes it’s entire food groups. For example, carbs. Some people feel tired and sluggish if they eat a higher carb diet. Others feel perfectly normal. Some people prefer to lose weight with a lower carb diet. Others lose weight just fine with a moderate-higher carb diet, and prefer it that way. Of course, that doesn’t matter to the low carb fanatics. To them, low carb is the ONLY way for EVERYONE to eat. Screw your preferences and adopt theirs instead.
The question is…
Who’s REALLY Right and Who’s REALLY Wrong?Um… everyone. Everyone is both right and wrong at the exact same time. Here’s why…
If you’ve found a way of eating that you feel is best for you for whatever reason, then you’re right. Even if the research supporting it is inconclusive (or nonexistent), whatever you feel is right for you IS in fact right for you.
If it meets your personal preferences, beliefs, and requirements, and keeps you happy, healthy, satisfied and most importantly of all… eating the right total amount of calories/nutrients per day for your goal… then I fully support whatever method of eating you’ve discovered.
But, that’s just you… not everyone. And by failing to realize that, you’re wrong.
Seriously. Who the hell are you (other than a brainwashed, obsessed, cult member nut-job) to go around and tell everyone how they should eat and what’s best for them?
Unless there is conclusive research that clearly shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that your way is in fact the BEST way for everyone (which there isn’t and likely never will be), then you’re just trying to pass off what’s right for you on everyone else.
Unfortunately for your crazy point of view, we all have different preferences and needs. We all like and dislike different foods. We don’t all have problems digesting the foods you happen to have a problem digesting. We don’t all believe or require the same things you do.
I have no problem at all with you being “proud” of your method of eating and wanting to tell people about it. Feel free. But, let them decide if that’s what’s right for them. If it is, then great. If it isn’t, be fine and understanding of the fact that not everyone should eat like you do.
A Major Difference Between This Diet Plan & All The OthersAnd that brings us to why I named this guide The Best Diet Plan… because it’s all about doing what’s best for YOU.
I mean, sure, there are certain caloric and nutritional guidelines that must be met in order to reach your specific goal (losing fat, building muscle, etc.) as effectively as possible, and really just for optimal health and function in general.
But beyond that, I never once tell you what you should and shouldn’t do like every single one of these cult-like diet groups do.
Instead, I tell you to just do whatever you feel is best for you. Once the most important stuff is all set up, fill in the smaller details in whatever way is most ideal for you.
I personally don’t give a crap what that way is or isn’t. I have no emotional interest, I won’t make or lose money either way, and I’m not a brainwashed diet fanatic that feels my specific way of eating is ALWAYS RIGHT FOR EVERYONE like most of these people do.
I won’t get all angry when someone disagrees with the way I prefer to eat, I won’t cherry pick research to prove my way is better than yours (and then cover my ears when you do the same), and I won’t cry or argue every time someone recommends doing something different from the way I choose to do it.
Why? Because I think all of the above is pure insanity, and because I just don’t have a “way” of eating. My “way” is that everyone should do it their preferred “way,” whatever that “way” may be.
In fact, if I were to ever be a part of any cult-like diet group, it would be one based around the concept of “doing what’s best for you.” That’s the only diet cult that I’d be a proud member and supporter of.
And that brings us to the action portion of this recommendation. How do you actually do what’s best for you?
How Should YOU Choose Foods & Adjust Your Diet?Well, I’ve said it 100 times already and I’ll say it again… the most important part of your diet plan is eating the right total amount of calories each day, getting those calories from an ideal amount of protein, fat and carbs, and getting those nutrients from mostly higher quality food sources as opposed to processed, useless, junk.
Beyond that, here’s what it all comes down too:
Choose foods you actually enjoy eating.
Trying to make yourself regularly eat foods you don’t truly enjoy is a fantastic way to end up hating your diet and eventually straying off it. However, if you fill your daily diet with foods you actually like, the odds of you sticking to it long term are pretty damn high.
So, while Food X might generally be considered a healthy, nutrient-rich, super amazing food, if you don’t like it.. don’t eat it! The same goes for Food Y, Food Z, and every other food on the planet.
It’s not rocket science, folks. If you don’t like it, don’t make it a part of your diet.
Choose foods you don’t have physical problems eating.
Do you have a nut allergy? Don’t eat nuts. Have a problem with gluten? Eat gluten-free. Does dairy or grains cause digestive issues for you? Avoid dairy or grains.
On the other hand, if you are one of the MANY people who have no problems eating these (or any other) foods, then by all means, eat them! Anyone who tells you not to is either an idiot, a member of some diet cult, or most commonly of all… both.
Choose foods you don’t have emotional problems eating.
If you agree with these or any other styles of eating that are based around a certain set of beliefs, then by all means… eat that way!
You honestly have my full support.
Seriously, who is anyone to tell you what is or isn’t right for you? If you want to meet your ideal daily calorie and nutrient intake each day by following a vegetarian diet, a Paleolithic diet, or anything similar… go for it!
However, if you’re one of the MANY people who likes eating meat, then a vegetarian diet is NOT for you. And if you really couldn’t care less about how cavemen used to eat and/or just enjoy eating the types of foods a Paleo diet would restrict, then a Paleo diet is definitely NOT for you.
The same goes for any other diet that restricts foods/food groups that you would personally prefer to eat.
Once again, it’s not rocket science. Do what’s right for you, and don’t make yourself do what isn’t.
Choose foods that are convenient and “doable” for you and your life.
For example, certain foods are less common in certain parts of the world. Some foods are in or out of season depending on where you live. Some foods cost a lot more than others. Some foods take a lot more time to prepare. Some people don’t have easy access to farmer’s markets or organic grocery stores.
Not to mention, some people aren’t just cooking/shopping for themselves. They have wives or husbands or children that may need to end up eating that same meal for dinner that they are, and that’s a whole other set of preferences that might need to be taken into account.
So, while a food can seem “right” for you, you might find that it’s not so right after all when you actually try to make it a regular part of your diet and your life.
Should you keep trying to make it work despite how inconvenienced you become as a result? No!
Long term diet adherence is all about doing what IS convenient and ideally doable for you. Doing what isn’t is a recipe for failure.
Make the adjustments that truly suit your preferences and requirements.
I don’t even care what your reasoning is. Maybe you feel better eating a lower or higher carb, fat or protein diet, or maybe you just enjoy the taste of high carb, high protein, or high fat foods more or less than anything else.
Whatever your reason is, you should adjust your diet to fit that preference. Here’s an example of how you’d do that using carbs.
Earlier in this guide, you may have noticed that I gave a range for what your ideal protein and fat intake should be each day.
So, if you wanted to eat a lower carb diet (or just wanted to eat a higher protein and/or higher fat diet), all you’d need to do is eat at the higher end of your ideal protein and fat intake range and then just lower carb intake to compensate calorie-wise.
On the other hand, if you wanted to eat a higher carb diet instead, you’d just do this in reverse. Eat at the lower end of your ideal protein and fat intake range, and then increase carb intake to compensate.
Your calorie intake still remains what it needs to be for your goal, your protein and fat intake both still remain within their ideal ranges, and carbs are adjusted up or down to fit the way you prefer to eat.
And if you’d rather just have a nice balance of everything (this tends to be my default recommendation), then just set protein and fat in the middle of their respective ranges, and carbs will end up being in a moderate (neither high nor low) range as a result.
As long as your calorie intake still remains what it should be and everything else still falls within their ideal ranges, you’re welcome to adjust your diet how ever the hell you want to (or need to) to keep you happy and consistent.
This is just one example of how to make that happen.
Do Only What’s Right For You… Not Someone ElseLike I said before, this isn’t rocket science. All that really matters is this:
Choose foods and adjust your diet in whatever way is most enjoyable, sustainable and all around preferable for you. Whatever you need to do to ensure you consistently eat the right total amount of calories and nutrients each day (and get those nutrients primarily from higher quality sources)… THAT’S what you should do.Every person’s diet should be put together based solely on their own personal needs and preferences, not anyone else’s. Ignore the diet cults and focus on doing what’s right for you and only you.
What about you? What’s right for you? How do you prefer to eat?In my case, I don’t adhere to ANY specific style of eating or method of food selection.
I’m basically a big fan of balance, and getting that balance from a variety of healthy foods that I truly enjoy eating. Simple as that.
There are absolutely no special restrictions placed on my diet beyond limiting typical junky/processed garbage, avoiding foods that I personally have issues digesting (in my case, dairy), and avoiding foods that I just don’t like the taste of (for example, sweet potatoes).
I get the majority of my protein intake from foods like chicken, turkey, fish and eggs. The majority of my carb intake often comes from brown rice, white potatoes and plenty of fruits and vegetables. The majority of my fat intake comes from nuts (usually almonds, peanuts & walnuts), olive oil, and fish oil supplements (more on those later).
I never force myself to eat foods I don’t like, and I never avoid foods I have no legitimate reason to avoid. I do what’s best for me 100% of the time.
Doing so not only allows me to meet my daily requirements for calories, protein, fat and carbs without any problems whatsoever (which is always goal #1), but it also makes my diet as enjoyable, sustainable and all around preferable for me as possible.
And that right there is the true definition of the BEST diet plan.
Your job is to figure out what’s right or wrong for you and do it just the same.