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Diet Plan vs Lifestyle Plan

by | Aug 6, 2019 | Nutrition | 0 comments

This is a question I get almost every day. “What kind of diet do I need to follow?” Then I proceed to ask, “What do you mean?”  …I get strange looks when I ask that.

You see, we have become a society that wants to identify with a lifestyle or diet.  People will ask you which side of town do you live, where do your kids go to school, what religion are you, what kind of car do you drive, I am on the keto diet what about you, etc. because we look for things we have in common.  Then I can put you into a group or category.  I am not about following a one-size fits all plan we are all unique, in different places in life, and maybe dealing with a disease or condition.  I do personalized nutrition and epigenetics.  You cannot get any more specific with your lifestyle plan than looking at your genetics.  Your lifestyle plan is specific to you and only you.


One thing I do in my practice is not necessarily putting people of a diet plan but instead a lifestyle plan.  Depending on where you are in your health journey will depend on the food choices we put in a plan of action.  Diet is a word that has an endpoint.  Follow this diet and in 21 days see results or in just 7 days you will be the slimmer you or 30 days follow this plan to lose weight.  Once you come to that endpoint then what?  Do you continue or go back to the way you were eating?  You may have cut out great nutritional foods on this diet that are fine for a few weeks to remove but should not continue to exclude them.  Most people will go back to their previous eating style.  That is where the trouble begins.

After the designated time on these diets, you return to the way you ate and gain all the weight back plus some in less than a month’s time.  I see so many people struggle with this.  I even did before I studied nutrition.  Why does this happen?  Your body gets comfortable at a weight and will go back there quickly. It is a survival mechanism.  If the body thinks you were starving it during the “diet” phase and then you put back the foods you were eating, it will go back to the set point it was at and then add a few so in case that starvation period happens again it will have some extra.  The body is programmed for survival and starving it is not okay with it.

When you devise a lifestyle plan around food and other lifestyle modifications, you will lose weight slowly (if that is a goal) and reverse disease processes in a way that the body does not feel threatened.  This is like the old adage “slow and steady wins the race”.  After following my lifestyle plan for a few months and you decide you want to add some previous foods back most people do not have the sudden weight gain as if you put your body in starvation mode.

This is not about deprivation this is about regaining your health back and learning how to have a healthy relationship with food.  Food selections have become all about fast, cheap, and convenience.  This is why 1 out of 2 people have type II diabetes and 1 out of 4 will develop an autoimmune condition in their lifetime.  Why are these diseases increasing?  Because we want our food to be fast, cheap, and convenient.  Also because of the way our food is processed and grown but that is another blog.

I work over 50 hours a week running 2 different businesses, am currently enrolled in a doctorate program, still have teenagers at home and a grandbaby that lives with me, and I am able to find the time to cook at home for almost every meal.  So no excuses!  I get life is busy.  We choose to go from sun up to sun down without considering food choices so we make them on the fly.  We run through a drive-through, eat in the car as we are traveling to the next event, and wonder why we never feel great.  Eating out is expensive compared to buying groceries and cooking at home.  What is the secret?  Meal planning and meal prepping.  If you had to perform a speech at work would you walk into it not having prepared?  Most likely no (some of you out there are rebels hehe).  The food that you feed your body should also be planned out.  What I help people do is devise a 2-week meal sheet and grocery list then we start it over on week 3 with week 1.  This gives you a whole months worth of food planning.  Then we can tweak it and add to it to make it now a 3-week rotation.  What this does is set you up for success and take away the thinking.  Decision fatigue is a real thing.  The more decisions you make daily the more fatigued you will become only to say screw it I am done with decisions I am going to eat whatever.

The whole family can be involved in the meal planning process.  Teaching kids to prep foods can help them when they are older and hopefully keep them from being that one that gets type II diabetes or an autoimmune condition.  The kids that are between 8-20 years old are from the generation that researches claim they will not live as long as there parents generation.  It is the first time in years that a generation is not guaranteed to live longer than the previous one.  We can change that statistic.  We need to change that statistic.  So get your kids in there to help and teach them the lost art of cooking.

Author: Karey Spear, BS, MS, DCN Candidate