7 Things Dietitians Wish They Knew Years Ago!
When it comes to nutrition, dietitians use the most current nutrition research.
Using this information, they learn the pros and cons of every trendy eating style. They also help people make dietary changes that improve their health in many ways.
They are nutrition experts.
If you ask any nutritional expert, they will tell you that nutrition science is always changing. This means recommendations for what used to be a healthy diet have changed over the past decade.
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Along with the science, the more experience a dietitian gets, they learn that beliefs once thought of as "healthy" may not be as healthy after all.
We asked a few professional dietitians what they wish they could tell themselves when they were younger - about what it means to really eat healthy.
So let's see what they had to say.
What Dietitians Wished They Knew
1.) There Is No "Bad Food"
Before you tell me how cake and ice cream is a bad food, listen up.
Amy Goodson is a registered dietitian and she specializes in sports diabetics. Amy says “as a younger person, I weighed more than I do now and for years never allowed myself to eat a bite of a sweet.”
She goes on to say that she eliminated sweets, even during Christmas. The reality is you can enjoy a bite or two of anything, and it won't affect your weight.
The problem comes from not using moderation. "All foods can fit into a healthy eating pattern," she says.
Reading the labels and understanding what you are putting into your mouth helps you enjoy a healthy lifestyle and your favorite foods.
2.) BMI Isn't as Useful as We Once Thought it Was
The Body Mass Index, or BMI, used to be key when determining whether someone was at a healthy weight.
Hannah Meier is a registered dietitian and she says “BMI tells us very little about a person beyond their size, and there are so many other biological markers that better measure someone’s health we too often ignore by focusing on weight."
Your BMI is calculated with the formula kg/m2 where kg is your weight in kilograms and m2 is your height in meters squared.
You see many other factors are completely ignored in this equation.
3.) There Are Many Ways to Be Healthy
“Almost any diet or way of eating can work for any one person,” says Jill Merkel, a registered dietitian who specializes in sports performance.
Maintaining a sustainable way of life that includes your personal preferences are what's important. Jill mentions that she does not promote any one specific diet or type of way of eating other than a balanced approach.
If one of her clients are currently eating a specific way, such as keto or vegan, she ensures they are doing it in a healthy way.
4.) Weight Loss is Not Easy
Co-founder of Appetite for Health, registered dietitian Julie Upton says she "used to think that people who ate well and exercised 5+ times a week, per the public health guidelines, would have few problems losing weight and maintaining weight loss.”
As she's been in the field longer, she realized that anyone who is successful at keeping pounds off had to develop strategies they have to live by to avoid gaining weight.
It takes continuous effort.
“This often means that they follow their own ‘rules’ to stay on track, they rarely go off the rails, and when they do, they quickly counteract their slip-up,” says Julie.
5.) Healthy Means More Than Just Fruits and Vegetables
Eating fresh produce is certainly a great strategy for improving your health, but Meier knows there's more to a healthy diet than just that.
“I used to think that the healthiest days of eating were those where I would consume primarily fresh produce,” Meier says. She goes on to say that our bodies perform the best when we have a balance of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats.
"This balance can look different for every person and every culture. There is absolutely no ‘one-size-fits-all’ healthy diet, and it definitely doesn’t have to be a giant salad at every meal if that isn’t satisfying or part of your heritage,” Meier says.
6.) Small, Long-Term Goals Are the Key to Success
Micah Silva is a registered dietitian and she says to “set realistic goals that can last a lifetime, no matter how small they seem. Whether it is to eat half a pizza, with a side salad in lieu of a full pizza or to mix honey into your plain yogurt instead of buying pre-sweetened yogurt, remember that the small changes add up, and expecting a change in a week is unrealistic.”
The demands of completely cutting out a food group only works for short-term progress, eventually leading you back to where you started.
7.) One Macro Plan Doesn't Fit All
Stacey Mattinson is also a registered dietitian and she mentions "when it comes to weight loss, studies show calories are king."
You don't have to be on a specific diet such as low-carb, low-fat, or high-protein to make progress.
A moderate reduction in calories, following a macro plan that feels sustainable, and eating filling nutritious foods are the keys to being the most effective.
Wrapping It Up
If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Losing weight and keeping it off takes a lot of time and hard work.
Finding a sustainable lifestyle to be healthy for years is the key, not simply crash-dieting your way to a 20-pound weight loss for spring break.