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Employee Wellness: 5 Things to Consider Before Starting a New Diet

Vegetarian bowl on wooden cutting board with blank notebook and measuring tape.

While the desire to make dietary changes in order to improve your health is admirable, a lack of preparation and deliberation beforehand can lead to failure and disappointment. It is estimated that over 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, however, typically people last about six months or less on a diet.

Here are 5 things to consider before adopting a new diet that can help you decide whether it is feasible for you, or even necessary in order to achieve your goals.

1. Analyze your reasons for starting a diet

Are you starting a new diet for the “right” reasons? Consider and jot down your reasons and goals for starting a new diet. Are you looking to achieve long-term weight loss or help control a chronic condition? Would you like your diet to be more ethical or eco-friendly? Are you looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet? The point of initiating a new diet should primarily be to improve your health, so ensure your chosen diet is helping not hindering.

2. Determine whether the diet will be sustainable

You want to consider whether your new diet is going to be sustainable for you, meaning is it something you could do long-term? For example, if your favorite food is steak does it really make sense to become a vegetarian. Alternatively, if you are not a big fan of seafood, becoming a pescatarian, which relies on fish and seafood as its main protein sources, may not be the best option for you.

If a diet seems too restrictive, it probably is and may not support longevity. Depriving your body of sufficient calories and proper nutrients can result in a slow metabolism, nutrient deficiencies, weakness and fatigue, and other health risks. Although restrictive diets may result in weight loss initially, in the long-term they can wreak havoc on your body and lead to overeating that will undermine your progress.

3. Consider whether the diet is complementary to your lifestyle

When researching your diet, does it fit your lifestyle? A new diet requires preparation and commitment to ensure success. You may have to purchase new and alternative ingredients and research recipes.

Moreover, think about convenience. If there are no meal or snack options available when you are out and about, do you have the time to cook all your meals or meal prep? If not, can you afford a meal delivery service? Additionally, consider whether you will be able to get your family on board, if applicable. Will you have support, or will you be stuck cooking two separate meals? The best course of action is to choose a diet that suits your lifestyle or come up with solutions for the perceived barriers that may arise.

4. Examine what nutrients your diet may be missing

Some diets may be missing out on key nutrients that have to be replaced and/or supplemented. For instance, it is recommended that vegans take calcium, iron, vitamin D and vitamin B12 supplements because these nutrients are mainly found in meat and dairy products. It is always a good idea to research the diet beforehand and get insight on people’s experiences.

If you have any questions or concerns, seek professional advice from a physician or dietitian. You should always consult a professional before beginning a new diet if you have any health conditions or chronic diseases.

5. Evaluate how effective the diet is.

Learn about the efficacy of the diet. Do others find success on it? Is it backed by science and research? Diets may claim a lot of things. If a diet seems too good to be true, it probably is. Nevertheless, there are diets that are supported by research and produce results. For example, the DASH diet has been shown to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Finally, consider whether there are steps you can take to improve your diet that do not necessitate adopting a whole new one. Instead of drastic changes, it may be more effective to integrate small, measurable goals, such as making a goal to eat red meat only once or twice a week rather than completely eliminating it.

Learn more about interesting health topics and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.

Written By: Tyler Reininga, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern



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