Flexible dieting is term that is getting used a lot in the health world these days. There tends to be certain “hot button” phrases that will gain traction with the general public, & have people wondering if they are missing out on the latest craze of how to look fabulous. 😉
What does the term “Flexible Dieting” even mean?
Well, it is simply that; It is allowing yourself to eat in a flexible way that focuses more on achieving certain macro nutrient goals instead of cutting out any foods altogether. To understand the concept a little bit more you may want to dig deeper into knowing what exactly macronutrients; AKA “macros” are. I have a macros 101 post HERE that might help. I also have a post on how to calculate macros HERE.
Once you understand that all food are made up of three macronutrients; protein, carbohydrates, & fat, you can see how your diet is also fully comprised of these three things. The idea with flexible dieting, is to eliminate restrictive eating, & teach people how to utilize flexibility within their macronutrient needs.
We have been through so many food phases as a culture…(low fat, no fat, high fat, no carbs, low carbs, high protein, no sugar…etc) That many people have developed a fear of food. They feel completely paralyzed as to what they should or shouldn’t eat. This is NO way to live life! Food is meant to be enjoyed!
The following are my tips on how to utilize the concept of flexible dieting to achieve your health & fitness goals.
- Determine what your specific macronutrient needs are. You can do this through your own calculation done HERE or by working with a coach/professional.
- Find an online tool or app that will help you to track your daily intake. I love My Fitness Pal. I think it is the most user friendly, & has a great database of foods. You can definitely utilize the bells & whistles of the premium version, but I think the free version is great if you don’t want to spend any money.
- Track your intake with measurements for a week or two. Yes, weighing and measuring food can be a bit annoying. However, the general public tends to overestimate their physical activity, & underestimate their food intake. This is a problem. It is best to measure and weight your food for a bit, so you are able to get better at eyeballing & understanding what portions really look like.
- Go for the 80/20 rule. The main problem I find with the stigma of flexible dieting, is the idea that, “I can eat whatever I want.” I don’t buy it. Yes, I fully support moderation, & indulging here and there. However, for those who really want to reach health & fitness goals, chances are eating whatever you want isn’t the best way to get there. Some people like to say, “carbs are carbs,” meaning your body recognizes carbs from any source the same. I disagree. eating 80 grams of carbs full of processed sugar vs. 80 grams of carbs coming from vegetables are not the same. Your body will react differently to different kinds of foods.
- Enjoy the flexibility when it happens! Try to make the majority of what you are eating good, clean, healthy food choices, & leave your treats to the, “every now & then.” This way you will enjoy those indulgences even more, & you will feel far less guilt for fitting them in.
Flexible dieting has helped many of my clients break their bad relationships with food.
Too many people put themselves on a restrictive diet with extremely strict bounds. While that may be sustainable for a short period of time, the chances that it will last are SLIM.
I work with my clients to find a method of eating that can be a lifestyle. A diet that only gives success for a hot second, often leads back to old habits when they can’t handle the restriction anymore. The whole idea behind flexible dieting is finding that sweet spot of maintainability. Maintainability is the place where you feel like you can sustain a healthy diet; Without the pressure of feeling like you will NEVER be able to indulge. It is also about realizing that indulging all the time will not bring you the health benefits you are likely looking for.
While talking about flexible dieting with one of my clients a few months back when she had an “ah ha” moment. It was like a light bulb went off in her head. She said, “So, what you’re telling me is that I’ll have to have some focus on eating a healthy diet & exercising my whole life…if I want to stay healthy for my whole life?” She started laughing because as she said it out loud, she realized that it sounded fairly uncomplicated. (I realize that it is easier said than done.)
It is, however, the truth. If you want to feel & look healthy, you are going to have to make it your lifestyle. Don’t think of it as a negative, or an arduous thing. Think of it as the opportunity to make the best life possible. Find ways to be active that you find enjoyable. Learn to eat healthy foods that taste good! Find ways to make flexible dieting work for you.