Yes, No, Maybe

Why is nutrition advice so complicated asks Al Reem Al Tenaiji

In the age of Instagram, there is such a thing as too much information. Navigating through before-and-after photos of millions of people embarking on diet journeys, various methods or products from dietitians’ blogs, and peer pressure can be a very slippery slope from informed to confused.   New diet trends and superfoods are today’s main topic of dinner party conversation, and, while anyone can say they are going to start dieting, choosing the most suitable approach for long-term personal success can be complicated.

Our modern lifestyle is fast-paced. As a result, the modern diet has also become fast. In a busy world, the fast pace of our lives leaves us little time to shop for healthy foods, to cook healthy meals, and then to sit and eat them slowly. We ignore mindful eating and the pleasure of taste.

Though I always been health and fitness conscious, I started following strict diet plans during my work in media. It was the beginning of my career and I had no time to plan meals or consider what was best for me. So, I went for the easy choice and joined a famous diet meal provider which focused on serving the correct number of portions from all food groups, and timely eating with proper intervals.  This diet saved me the time I would have spent on the hassle of groceries and cooking. It worked well in the beginning, but I slowly got bored and realised that I needed more control of my diet plan rather than choosing from a fixed menu.

And so, I set about researching and discussing my passion for healthy eating with friends. I started reading blogs and consulting nutritionists , I learnt about superfoods, the role of supplements and the diets that some leaders and athletes use to improve stamina or brain function.  All this knowledge helped me create my own personalised regime, which is one I can keep to wherever I am, which – being as I travel so much for work – is a real bonus. It requires solid commitment, but I follow it rigorously, and it’s become a mindset that I rely on.

There are four popular diet trends right now, including the ketogenic, paleolithic, Whole30 and intermittent fasting diets. They all have benefits but there isn’t really a one size fits all when it comes to diets. For instance, I started keto in 2018 with a group of friends, and while the results were amazing, it really is the kind of diet that should only be used short-term.

Right now, there is lot of hype surrounding intermittent fasting diets. For sure, it is not all hype – there is definitely some sound science here, not least that which shows how the likes of Ramadan fasting is both detoxifying and brings tremendous health benefits.

My take on a diet confusion, is less about food and more about your mind. Focus on the basics like sleeping well, keeping yourself hydrated, moving more, and lowering stress levels – all of which are often more realistic than strict calorie counting or denial. Accountable self-monitoring on food choices with the focus on small steps are essential, and remember, no diet plan can work magic without your own personalised fitness regime.  I also regularly journal how my diet is going,  and monitor the different benefits I am getting from supplements.

Healthy diet and fitness are a bumpy ride and we all need to find our own personal fit. It’s important to remember that mindful wellbeing planning is the foundation of healthy happy life. Take some time to do some thoughtful introspection about your lifestyle and eating habits and, ask yourself, that do you actually need to go on a diet or just switch up your eating habits?

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