Starting a solid daily routine, whether making time to exercise or eating breakfast, is challenging enough but maintaining it is another story. If you’re always on-the-go and busy with the daily grind, chances are maintaining a nutritious diet plan would be your last priority.

You ask yourself “What diet should I do?” Starting the process involves listening to what your body needs and trying different diet types to know what works for your living situation. On top of that, you should discover the best approach in doing a diet that’s personal and unique, one that matches your personal goals. Tackling this challenge could be overwhelming. Furthermore, sustaining an ideal diet plan that fits your personality and lifestyle takes a lot of effort.

What happens when you find you’ve fallen out of the wagon and start eating unhealthy? This could get frustrating and you decide to give up entirely. But it’s important to remember that real change takes time and a whole lot of determination. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you want lasting changes, you should give yourself a break from time to time. I find that it requires hard work, but also the ability to look at disappointments and have the courage to move forward regardless. It’s not an easy thing.  To help you gain confidence, you have to undergo each step needed and learn necessary tools along the way.

I’ve compiled the following steps to help you get back on track with your diet when they’ve just stopped working:

CORRECTING NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCES

It is best to identify the cause of unhealthiness and nail the culprit: dietary deficiency. When our body is not getting the right amount of micronutrients to function optimally, we experience unpleasant symptoms that leave us feeling awful. This lack of vital nutrients manifests in our skin, hair, muscles, mood, and behavior, etc.  This is the way our body communicates and prompts us to pay attention and change our lifestyle.

So how do you know your body is not doing well? You don’t need to actually have a disease to know this – even the slightest signs give us hints on possible vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  

COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

These are common symptoms that our body is telling us something is wrong:

  • If your hair and nails are thin and easily break – possible vitamin B/biotin deficiency.
  • The skin on your scalp flakes – possible lack of fatty acids such as Omega 3
  • The corner of your mouth splits and has sores –  possible vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Your gum bleeds- possible due to diet lack in vitamin C
  • You experience vision problems – possible decreased vitamin A
  • Hair loss – many possible causes, but lack of protein, zinc, and biotin could be the problem
  • Skin rashes and unexplained bumps – diet low in  vitamin A and C
  • Fatigue – possible vitamin D deficiency
  • Bruising – possible insufficient vitamin C in your diet

Identifying these red flags could be the key to ramping up your body and boost your immune system. If you want a more personalized diagnosis, you could try using diagnostic programs such as the VitaScan that tests your blood to pinpoint your deficiencies, but this may be too costly if you have a limited budget. Another option is to take free online tests such as this one. Just put in the information on how you feel and what you notice in your body. It will evaluate your results according to your answers and give you a list of deficiencies at the end. On the other hand, consulting a dietician for a professional evaluation gives you a more reliable result and help you sustain a long- term diet plan. It’s really up to you on how you want to proceed with a deal with nutrition deficiency. The point is to put your shoulders to the wheel and get started!

ADDRESSING YOUR DEFICIENCIES

The next step is to incorporate the missing vitamins and nutrients in your food selection. This involves changing your current eating habits to a more effective and healthy one. But, an important point to take note and emphasized is to remember not to do it drastically. There is a tendency to immediately change what you normally eat and totally restrict yourself. Don’t fall into this trap! This will get you started on the wrong foot, leaving you feeling awful most of the time and even more ravenous. Our body reacts strongly to constraints and your raging hunger hormones from total restriction makes it really difficult to stay on track. And when you do give in to your cravings, guilt will get the best you and eventually, you’ll end up quitting the process.  So remember, start slowly and make incremental changes.

Let’s establish the fact that there is no one diet approach that is applicable to everybody. Even popular diets could leave one lacking with necessary nutrients. According to this study by ncbi, these six micronutrients are the most common vitamin deficiencies in popular diet plans:

  • vitamin B7
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • Chromium
  • Iodine
  • Molybdenum

This means, just because one diet plan claims to work for most people, it doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone, particularly if you already have existing deficiencies. It’s important to learn a diet approach that is both nourishing but at the same time sustainable.

To begin with, diet changes, managing your caloric consumption is a good way to start.

CONTROLLING CALORIE INTAKE

When you get into dieting, calories are often portrayed as toxic and something that you should totally steer clear off. But calories aren’t necessarily bad for you. Calories are the units of measurement used to count heat and energy composition in our body. Basically, we need it for energy and it could actually be found in a lot of healthy food. It’s important to educate yourself with bad calories vs good calories. Good calories are found in whole natural food and provide us with safe daily calorie requirements without even thinking too of eating too much. On the opposite, bad calories are generally found in processed food and those with high-sugar content. They give us a few to zero benefits and will even leave us feeling empty. Also, the worst part is this food usually give us cravings. Obviously, these are the type that what we should be limiting in our diets.

An interesting way to control your calorie intake is to learn this step by precisionnutrition.com. The idea is to not be too immersed with numbers and calorie counter. According to the article, using your hand as a measuring tool is a stress-free way to visualize and monitor consistently the quantity of food you eat.

Here are some general examples:

Men:

  • 2 palms of protein dense foods at each meal
  • 2 fists of vegetables at each meal
  • 2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at most meals
  • 2 thumbs of fat dense foods at most meals

Women:

  • 1 palm of protein dense foods at each meal
  • 1 fist of vegetables at each meal
  • 1 cupped handful of carb dense foods at most meals
  • 1 thumb of fat dense foods at most meals.

Take note that this is just an estimate to help you get started with eating healthy calories and portion control. Just remember to stick to a safe meal plan with which is high in protein, fibers, and healthy fats.

Take a look at a couple of examples that you could incorporate in your meals:

High-Protein Foods:

  • Whole eggs
  • Almonds, Pistachios, cashews
  • Lean meat, preferably beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Oats
  • Brocolli
  • Tuna
  • Quinoa
  • Whey supplements

High-Fiber Foods:

  • Dark colored veggies: the darker the color, the higher the fiber content.
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoe with skin
  • Beans and legumes: garbanzo, kidney peas, lentils
  • Whole grain bread, grains such as brown rice (avoid white rice if possible)
  • Cereals  
  • Nuts: almond, pumpkin, sunflower, etc.
  • Fruits: raspberries, pear, apple with skin, banana, orange, strawberries (but be careful with sugar content of the fruits you eat)

High-Fat Foods (Unsaturated type) that are healthy:

  • Avocados
  • Chia seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Fish
  • Coconut oil
  • Dark chocolate
  • Greek yogurt
  • Olives
  • Seeds: pumpkin, hemp, flax
  • Soybeans

Including these in your food is a good way to get going. There are other variations of each type and try to explore more healthy alternatives to your meals. Always listen to what your body needs, adjusting along the way, and ultimately finding what works best for you.

MEAL FREQUENCY

How many times do you really need to eat in a day? It is recommended that your meals should be based on your body needs and the type of daily activities. Eating several meals a day is acceptable or eating big meals with intervals in between is also fine. The idea is to eat your vitamins and minerals enriched food and do trial and error on your eating time. Experimenting is okay, just as long as you are consistent with eating healthy.

STAYING ACTIVE AND LIFTING WEIGHTS

Doing exercises is essential in any diet plan.

According to a published July 2018 journal titled The Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Weight Loss and Maintenance, a minimum frequency and duration of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense physical activity is not effective enough for weight management if not paired with a low-calorie diet. Diet with caloric control done simultaneously with exercise could help you lose 5 to 15% of your current weight, and working with a fitness instructor can help.

Begin exercising through daily morning jogs or start with a 30-minute walk regime 3 times a week. Next, you can elevate the intensity to a moderate jog for 30-minutes for 3 times per week and progress to doing it on a daily basis, as a part of your morning routine. Again, it’s all about doing it one step at a time and gradually letting your body adjust to changes.

A great intensity progression is to start weight lifting and going to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. Make sure that your exercises are within your current level of endurance and strength. Explore in advance different gym exercises (a lot of videos on youtube and Instagram) for beginners and if available in your gym, communicate well with a trainer on what your goals are for exercising.

SUMMARY

Getting back on track is not easy, but a nutritional consultant can help. The process will be challenging but if you plan ahead and be mindful of what you eat, and it will be a satisfying journey. Remember to address your deficiencies with a realistic plan and to always try to be active as much as you can, hopefully, you’ll be on on the way to a healthier, better version of you!