Check out the blog for thoughts on many nutrition topics!
General Diet Recommendations from Black Hills Nutrition
***Please note: If you have a history of disordered eating, or you think you might have an eating disorder, please talk to your doctor or work with a mental health professional before starting a new diet.***
Every body is unique, and therefore, there is no one nutrition plan that will meet everyone's needs. Healthful eating for many of us means listening to our bodies, learning to follow hunger/satiety cues, getting most of our energy from food rather than from beverages, planning ahead, and enjoying food. For many of us, a healthy diet includes a variety of protein and mineral-rich foods (such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and eggs), vegetables, fruits, minimally processed grains and legumes, anti-inflammatory fats, and plenty of water.
I do not recommend dieting for "weight loss."
Instead, I recommend making dietary changes to support a goal such as improved health, energy, sleep, athletic performance, etc. Weight is complicated, and making significant weight loss the sole objective for a "diet" has been shown over and over again to produce rebound weight gain, yo-yo dieting, hunger, and a more complicated relationship with food.
Wondering what's really behind overeating? (Hint: it's not a lack of "willpower.") Check out this article by Lily Nichols, RDN.
When many people come to me asking where to start to improve their diet, I often recommend starting with one or some (but not ALL) of the following:
Note: these recommendations may not apply to you if you are an elite athlete, have modified dietary needs due to a medical condition, are underweight, or are trying to gain weight. See a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition advice if those circumstances apply to you.
- Spend a few days documenting your normal food intake. Then, take a look at your eating habits and find some places where you can make a switch to a better choice. Make specific, measurable goals for diet changes and set a time frame for when these goals will be accomplished. Then reflect on your progress and make new goals!
- Commit to increasing the number of meals that you prepare from scratch. If your current practice is to make dinner one day per week, make it a goal to increase to two or three. If you always grab breakfast at a fast-food restaurant, make a goal to eat breakfast at home. Use techniques that make it easier to reach your goal, such as utilizing a pressure cooker or slow cooker, meal prep on days off, making a habit of prepping breakfast before bed, or utilizing a recipe/ingredient delivery service such as Blue Apron or Sun Basket. Make this a project in which your whole family or friend group can participate.
- Try a 30-day experiment where you avoid one or more of the following: (1) foods with any type of added sugar, including fruit juice used as a sweetener, (2) artificial colors and flavors, (3) alcohol or caffeine (especially for people with GERD or reflux), (4) deep-fried foods (even healthful foods fried in healthful fats), or (5) Calorie-containing beverages (except for whole milk). After 30 days is up, slowly add back to your diet in moderation any favorite foods that were avoided, and make note of how these foods make you feel and how they affect your appetite. Note: cutting off these foods "cold turkey" may produce some withdrawal symptoms. Use your best judgment when deciding if you should slowly taper down your intake of these foods, and don't be like my husband and do something like this 30 days before getting married. :-)
- If you do not have any major health problems and do not have diabetes, consider discussing the risks and benefits of intermittent fasting with your doctor or a dietitian. Intermittent fasting, for some people, can help improve insulin sensitivity and support healthy metabolism and weight. Please note that fasting is not appropriate for many people, including women who are pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant, and many people with thyroid dysfunction or concerns about production of certain hormones. Click here, here, or (if you really want to nerd out) here for more information about intermittent fasting.
- If it's ok with your doctor, embark on a 30-day trial of a moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, higher-fat diet. If you feel better, aren't as hungry, and notice your clothes fit better when eating this way, it might be a habit to stick with! This article describes this diet in a great way and cuts through the hype about LCHF. Note: the "keto" diet craze is upon us. Keto is basically a VERY low carb, VERY high fat diet. Did you know this diet was originally designed to support treatment of childhood epilepsy that is resistant to control with medications? Most "keto" diets out there are very different from this original ketogenic diet that is still used in children's hospitals throughout the country. True ketogenic diets are very restrictive, may be nutritionally inadequate, and should be implemented under the supervision of a medical and nutrition professional.
Again, check out the blog at Black Hills Nutrition for an in-depth discussion about a variety of nutrition topics, with references included!
Resources outside of BHN
- Are you pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, breastfeeding, have PCOS, struggling with infertility, or have gestational diabetes? Then head on over to the site written by Lily Nichols, RDN and get busy reading. Lily is an incredible researcher and resource. She has two books - one on general prenatal nutrition and one specific to gestational diabetes.