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7 Tips for Finding the Best Diet That Works for You

Written by Markita Lewis, MS, RD

Published on February 12, 2021

When searching for a diet to follow, choose one that promotes accountability, variety in food choices, focuses on whole foods, and is sustainable for your lifestyle. Together these steps can help you successfully achieve your health goals.

7 Tips for Finding the Best Diet That Works for You

If you’re reading this article, it likely means that you are interested in unlocking a great strategy to find the diet that is best for you.

There are so many diets out there. Many of them say that they are the most effective ones on the market, but not all diets may be appropriate for your individual needs.

You are the expert on your own body and life, so it is essential that you center your personal needs and preferences to determine what diet you choose.

Here are some tips to consider when choosing the best diet plan:

1. Examine Your Reasons for Starting a Diet

Understanding why you want to start a diet can help determine what type to choose.

Are you looking to reach body goals, improve a chronic condition, or just generally want to be healthier?

Some people only start diets because someone they know is on one, it’s a new fad diet, or they feel pressured somehow.

For others, starting a new diet may not be appropriate for their current stage in life for many reasons.

Once you’ve figured out why you want to start a diet, you can start looking at diets that align with your overall goals.

2. Determine the Level of Accountability You Need

Having accountability while working towards a health goal increases your motivation and the likelihood of successfully achieving that goal.

Think about how much accountability you need – do you only need a coach, or do you also want the additional support of a community of people?

If you’re a highly motivated individual who likes to DIY your diet, perhaps your accountability may come from using an app or tracker to self-monitor your progress.

Either way, find a diet that has the best accountability option suited to your needs.

3. Avoid Diets That Force You to Give Up Multiple Food Groups

You don’t have to give up entire food groups to lose weight or be healthy. In fact, it’s better that you don’t.

Diets that require restrictions of food groups are less likely to be sustainable, and certain fad diets may increase the likelihood of nutrient deficiencies if followed long-term.

In finding which diet is best for you, look for plans that encourage regular intake of a variety of nutrient-dense foods.

Fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats all have a role in providing the nutrition that we need.

4. Consider the Financial Investment You Want to Make

Just as a diet should be sustainable for your body, it should be sustainable for your wallet as well.

It’s okay if a diet does not have a hefty price tag – price does not necessarily determine a program’s effectiveness.

Take time to read the fine print and see if a diet has any hidden costs that may not be obvious at first.

Additional costs may include shipping and handling, monthly subscriptions, extra services or products, and even additional grocery costs.

Diets that rely on meal replacements, pre-packaged foods, supplements, or detoxes tend to be costly long-term, especially if you have to purchase separate foods for your family.

5. Assess How Much Time You Want to Dedicate to a Diet Daily

Think about your daily schedule. Do you have time to cook, participate in coaching sessions, exercise, and grocery shop most days?

Or is your life so busy that you feel lucky when you’re able to sit down and eat a meal?

If you have many responsibilities that keep you busy throughout the day, a diet plan that requires a rigorous meal schedule and frequent cooking may not be for you.

In fact, a plan that relies on meal replacements or pre-packaged meals can be a quick and easy way to get your nutrition (and creates extra time for you to get active).

6. Find a Diet That Includes Foods That You Like

Simply put, a diet should have foods that you will actually like eating.

It seems like a cruel and unusual punishment to go on a diet devoid of flavors or foods you enjoy.

If including foods from your cultural traditions is important, choose a diet that allows for customization and flexibility.

Check diet plans and supplement ingredients to see if the program is compatible with your other dietary preferences and restrictions.

Do they offer kosher or halal options? Can you get a wide selection of foods that are gluten-free or allergen-friendly? And what about vegetarian and vegan options?

These are all points to consider when finding a diet; otherwise, your options could be severely limited or not even compatible with the diet at all.

7. Focus on Whole Foods Instead of Pricey Supplements and Detoxes

Supplements and detoxes don’t teach you how to create long-term healthy lifestyles. Read that again.

Some integration of these products can help kick-start your journey towards a healthy diet, but it shouldn’t be the focal point.

In fact, many of the diets that primarily focus on these shakes and detoxes are typically for short term use only to lose weight quickly and not sustainably.

If you want to find the best diet for you, choose one with whole foods as a focus.

These diets can help you recognize what foods are important to include daily and in what amounts, giving you knowledge that you can utilize for the rest of your life.

The Bottom Line

Finding the best diet that works for you takes consideration and planning to be successful.

A plan that isn’t too extreme, incorporates a variety of foods and flavors, provides opportunities for accountability, and is overall sustainable is likely to be followed for a more extended period of time.

There are inherent flaws in the concept of dieting and its ability to create long-term change.

A meta-analysis of popular diets found that weight loss and cardiovascular benefits from diets largely disappeared after 12 months.

This means, after a year, most diets were pretty much equal in their benefits. So choose a diet that is sustainable and easy to follow.

Crash diets, yo-yo diets, or other types of diets that severely restrict calories and macronutrient intake (fat, protein, carbohydrates) can slow down metabolism and contribute to other conditions.

Healthy eating is achievable without necessarily going to a commercial diet approach.

There are eating patterns such as MyPlate, the Mediterranean Diet, and DASH, which have all been thoroughly researched and can be easily customized to meet your personal needs.

If you are interested in an individualized approach to discover the best nutrition plan for your health, please speak with a registered dietitian nutritionist who can help you determine how to adjust your diet to your needs.

Checklist: How to Pick the Best Diet

Trying to evaluate the best diet for you? Use our handy checklist to help guide your decision:

1. What is your reason for choosing this diet?

  • Do you want to be healthier?
  • Lose weight?
  • Improve a chronic condition?
  • Other reason?

2. What level of accountability do you need?

  • Are you able to motivate yourself?
  • Do you thrive in a group?
  • Do you prefer individualized support?

3. Does the diet make you give up too many food groups?

4. What financial investment are you willing to make?

5. How much time are you willing to spend with food prep and other diet-related tasks?

6. Does the diet include foods you like?

7. Is the diet flexible? Can it be modified to align with dietary restrictions or preferences?

8. Does the diet include supplements?

9. Is the diet sustainable long-term?

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