Find your perfect diet

Find your perfect diet

The holidays are gone and the first good intentions are starting to fade away, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. This can have many reasons, like motivation, opportunity and how well your resolutions are matched to your lifestyle. To support you to continue the good work, I have some tips here that’ll help you find your perfect diet.

The balance between diet and exercise

There are two general ways to lose weight; you can take in less calories or burn more of them. Most people combine these techniques, but finding a good balance can be difficult. You shouldn’t eat too many calories, because it takes a lot of exercise to burn them off. However, when you’re exercising a lot, you do need enough energy and nutrition to repair the muscles afterwards.

So, when you’re choosing a way to lose weight, you need to consider what works best for you. For instance, I generally don’t have time to exercise more than two times a week, which is not enough to make a difference weight-wise. I could make time of course, but since I don’t like exercising it wouldn’t make for a sustainable routine. Therefore, focusing on getting in less calories is my main goal. However, when you like and have time for exercising, this might be better for you. The benefit of focusing on exercising is that you don’t need to be as focused on your diet all day, like it is when diet is your main focus. However, since I love cooking that’s not really an issue for me.

Since this post is about dieting mostly, I won’t go into the type of exercise here. However, if you are interested in this, you could read my post on finding your ideal exercise routine!

Types of food

There are many types of diets. Some are focused on muscle growth (many proteins and carbs), which is perfect for when you’re exercising. These diets are generally very low fat. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the diets that are very low carb. These contain more on (healthy) fats. The most extreme form of this is the keto diet. During Keto, you eat so many carbs that your body will change from using carbs as your main energy source to fats. This is very strict, because if you do eat carbs, you’ll be kicked out of ketosis and you’ll have to start all over again.

These types of diets are often all pretty strict and personally, I find it hard to get inspired by them. However, they do provide a clear list of what you should and shouldn’t eat, which can be nice for people that don’t involve too much feeling in their way of eating.

Diets around the world

I prefer diets that are inspired by different cultures. I generally believe that staying close to nature is a good way to get in the most nutrition. Several diets from all around the world have been proven to be healthy, like the Mediterranean diet, the Japanese diet and the Nordic ones. Therefore, I always try to find inspiration from traditional dishes from those areas. For instance, the one day I’ll eat a healthy bowl inspired by my favourite sushi, the other day I’ll go for moussaka or fish and potato pancakes form Sweden.

Within these diets, I am limiting my calories to make sure I don’t over eat. However,, there are less restrictions over which products I can and can’t eat. Since I’ve noticed that sugar doesn’t fill me up enough, it’s only natural to not reach for sugary treats. This is also the basic idea behind my own diet, which is focused more on which foods my brain needs to produce serotonin and more happy hormones.

In addition, the way of eating stays the same, even if you’re not trying to lose weight. That way it’s easier to get ‘back to normal’ when the real diet period is over, without you falling into the behaviours that made you gain the weight in the first place. However, because you don’t have a set list of ingredients and it feels like more of a lifestyle change, it’s easier to slip back into bad habits and it takes longer to really lose the weight. If you are someone who can only concentrate on things for a month or something, this might therefore not be your style.

Counting calories

Many people hate counting calories and I can definitely see why. In the beginning, it’s a lot of effort and not every app has the products you use in their database. However, it does show you where you go ‘wrong’ and what your focus needs to be. For instance, I don’t like big breakfasts, so I save up some of those calories to use in my lunch and dinner. You also find out which products are most calorific. For instance, avocado and hummus are very healthy, but quite calorie dense. Therefore, you might want to consider only eating a quarter or half an avocado on your toast, instead of a whole one.

There are also many diets that focus on calorie intake almost entirely. These diets contain very few calories and are often called crash diets. Crash diets allow you to lose a lot of weight in a small amount of time, but because they don’t adjust your normal lifestyle, it’s hard to stay on that weight for a longer time. You’ll therefore need to diet every so often and your weight will change a lot. This puts a lot of stress on the body and that stress often makes you want to eat even more. In addition, your body will try to save as many calories as possible. Therefore, in the end, you’ll gain weight much quicker in the first weeks after the diet. Therefore, I would never recommend crash diets to anyone.

A personal approach

But what is a good amount of calories to consume? This differs greatly per person. When you move a lot or do have physically heavy work, you need more than people that sit behind a desk all day. Generally speaking, we say women need about 2000 calories a day and men 2500 calories. However, size, metabolism and amount of muscles change this per person. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to play around with the intake. I’ve found that when I want to lose weight, 1500 calories a day are a good amount. With 1500 calories, I don’t feel too hungry, I am able to take in almost all my needed nutrition and I lose weight pretty quickly. I am 1.67 in metres and am not too active physically. However, when I do exercise or take a long walk, I don’t mind taking in 100 – 200 calories more if it feels necessary.

For a good number to strive towards for you personally, you could also ask your doctor or a dietician. However, I wouldn’t recommend for anyone to take in under 1300 calories and for men, I’d say 1800 is fine. When you’re obese or over, this is way too low as well. In this case, you could start with the 2000 or 2500 which is a normal intake for women and men. Because your body weight is already quite a lot. Therefore, you also burn more during everyday movements and thus anything under that number would be very difficult for your body to manage. This is dangerous for your heart and unnecessary in the first stages of your diet.

Feeling hungry?

Especially in the first stages of any diet, it’s normal to feel hungry. Your stomach has to adjust its size back to a smaller intake. On top of that, you’re likely feeling a little bit of a withdrawal from eating less sugar. Since sugar is highly addictive, we will be craving it very badly when we suddenly take in less of it. The thing with sugar is that it’s added to almost everything. This is why I always prefer to cook everything from scratch, especially things like tomato sauces. However, when you start doing that, you’ll feel the withdrawal very strongly for about the first two weeks. Than, your body has adjusted and it’ll get easier.

It can help to drink a lot of water or tea (without sugar), since hunger is often caused by dehydration instead of actual hunger. You can also find some low calorie snacks like grapes. We can trick our brain a little as well. When we chew a lot, our brain thinks that we’re eating more. Therefore, snacks like grapes are great because there’s a lot of chewing and plucking going on. Chewing gum without sugar can also achieve this effect.

Health warning!

Having said all this, I must say that I am NOT a dietician or a doctor. You should always listen to them first. Your diet is really important to sustain the body and it should thus not be taken lightly or be experimented with.

Also, you are a beautiful individual, even if you have some fat on your bones. This post is in no way, shape or form, meant to make you lose weight if you don’t want to. Nor do I try to say that skinny is always better, because it’s not. It’s just to help you out a little in choosing a diet if you want to lose some weight. It can be a real journey to find one that fits your body and lifestyle and I hope this helped to get you on your way. If you do feel like you’re losing control over your weight loss journey, please talk about it with a loved one or a professional. There’s no shame in admitting you need a little help!

I hope you’ve found this post to be helpful and if you have other tips, please let me know in the comments below! For regular updates, please subscribe and get a free e-book on fattening up your wallet or follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, so you’ll never have to miss a new post!

Lots of love,

Lisa

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Hi there! My name is Lisa and I am the author of Mind and Body Intertwined. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree in psychology. During my study, I found out how much the mind and the body are connected and it fascinated me, which is why I started my blog. Would you like to join me on this little corner of the world?

32 Comments on “Find your perfect diet

  1. I’m a vegetarian so being careful with any diet is important, focusing on nutrition helps me a lot. these are great tips. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I used to count calories religious and it wasnt the best thing for me to be doing but now I’ve got it under control and I love keeping track of new meals and foods I can try!

    Amber | The Unpredicted Page | https://theunpredictedpage.com

  3. This was a good read. I think I saw results when I started focusing on nutrition and eating nutritious food instead of focusing on calories and fad diets.

  4. Love this!! I’m trying to eat healthier so I loved reading this! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. This is a great post! I’ve never been super strict on my diet but I truly believe in everything is okay in moderation. I tried keto this time last year for about 3-4 months but I did it for the mental aspects! It really was not sustainable long term. I generally eat healthy but most importantly, I like to make sure I’m getting enough nutrients. Thanks for sharing x

    http://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

    • I’m the same in my diet as well, I generally eat pretty healthy and when I go stricter short term, it’s generally for mental health purposes. How did you experience keto though, I hear very different things from different people so I’m not sure about it!

  6. This was such a useful post. I think finding the balance between what feels right for you and what actually works can often be the hardest part of sticking to a diet. Thank you for sharing these tips!

    Tash – A Girl with a View

  7. There are so many great information here! Honestly, I don’t do diet, but I don’t eat healthy meals too haha I eat a lot of fruits and snacks and drink coffee every day. I need to eat healthy and have some exercises after reading this x

  8. I have yet to find a ‘diet’ that has not made me turn my nose at it…mostly because I am not able to heard the words ‘you cannot have x-y-z’ without feeling like I will be dead if I don’t have such items. Maybe exploring it differently the way you say could help?

  9. I’m always struggling with the right diet for me. I have a tough relationship with food, to be honest… Thank u for your article!

  10. My husband and I are not really on a diet but more of a health/lifestyle change. He’s been battling cancer for over a year so we want to nourish our bodies (and minds) with good food, good exercise and a good mindset towards what we feed ourselves with. This was a really interesting read — thanks for sharing!

    • I think that would go along way in helping him get better. I’ve read about specific ‘cancer’ diets or at least some things you could eat more/less to help him and the right mindset would surely also make a lot of difference. I hope he gets well soon and good luck with the health journeys of both of you!

  11. I’m so not a good person at dieting, as I tend to crash hard (instead of just eating that quantity of sugar or carbs or whatever over a safer longer time period). So I just found I had to up my exercise and that works for me. There are some great tips in here though!

    Katie | katieemmabeauty.com

  12. There is so much useful information in this! Calorie counting was the only way I thought diets worked, but then I learned about all sort of diets for different needs. It’s so good to know what’s best for you.

  13. This was a great read Lisa! I am trying to balance more what I eat and snack much less, as I am not strict enough to get on a diet. I am introducing daily exercise, which for me has been quite a struggle but I am getting into the routine of it. I think as you said, everyone needs to find the right balance for themselves. Thanks for sharing x

    • Thank you! I think diet is often a very ‘strict’ concept in people’s minds, but a diet can also just be what you eat often. Snacking less helped me out a lot as well and maybe you can start small with exercise and then build it up?

  14. This was a really interesting article and read Lisa! I have never really dieted myself, but my mum has training in nutrition so have some experience in the scientific side of things but it was great to learn some more. Thanks for sharing.

    Paige // Paige Eades

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