The New Year Diet That Actually Works

You came here for a new year’s diet that actually works. Spoiler: there isn’t one. Sorry, couldn’t resist the clickbait…! Here’s my take, as a Nutritionist, on the whole ‘new year, new you’ bandwagon. Its January, which means resolution talk is omnipresent, and folks everywhere are seeking the holy grail: a new year’s diet that actually works, that will transform body, mind and soul in a matter of weeks. Now I’m a planner and a goal-setter, and so I totally get that the “fresh start” vibe in the air can be an amazing motivator. I love a new diary, fresh stationery and a blank page as much as the next girl! And there’s no denying it can be easier to make healthy choices when others around us are too (anyone not doing Dry January?!).

But I think we need to stop and think before blinding going after the next quick fix, seduced by baseless claims and marketing hype that this is the new year’s diet that actually works. As a Nutritionist supporting women with their health and wellness goals day in day out, here’s why I believe the new year, new you concept can be problematic.

  1. We tend to focus on the negative. With resolutions often comes a hefty dose of negative self-talk, a focus on perceived inadequacies and defects, self-flagellation. Case in point: ask a handful of female friends what their resolutions are, and where does the conversation end up? I’ll bet weight is mentioned at least 75% of the time.
  2. The all-or-nothing mindset. We tend to think that if we haven’t started on 1 January we’ve missed the boat and have to wait another 365 days for the next opportunity. Either that, or we impose such strict ‘rules’ that one or two slips ups later, we’d may as well give up (because we’re useless/lazy/have no willpower etc etc). Take it from someone who has witnessed it time and again with clients: rigidity and lack of flexibility rarely end well!
  3. No one thinks about the why. What is the end goal? If you want to lose a couple of stone, for example, keep the why at the forefront of your mind. Is it to improve your blood pressure/blood fats/heart health? So you have more energy to run around and play with the kids/grand kids? So you can feel happy and confident in your skin? Your personal motivators are the key to your success
  4. They tend to be generic, not personalised. Instead of creating goals aligned with whatever happens to be the wellness practice du jour (Hello protein smoothies/cold showers/intermittent fasting!) or whatever your friends are doing (which 9/10 will be some vague “eat healthier/exercise more/lose weight” non-SMART goal), actually think about you. What is it that you want to achieve, and what is a realistic, sustainable and enjoyable way to get there that fits into your life?
  5. Short-term thinking. This is the biggie, in my opinion. Any goal you set out to achieve only for a defined period of time is probably not sustainable. And if it isn’t sustainable, and you don’t intend to keep it up long-term, then why bother with the ‘new you’ at all? Looking for the new year diet that actually works is the most common example here. It typically involves deprivation, which invariably ends in failure. You won’t change your health, your body or your life by ‘eating healthy’ (and most of us have no idea what ‘healthy’ actually looks like, by the way!) for a few weeks then falling back into old habits.
  6. We never check in with our progress. Most of us set our resolutions and proceed to either stick to them (for a time!) or “fail”/give up/move on/forget about them. What if the goal setting was just the beginning? What if you hate your resolution? It’s just not working for you? It’s making you feel worse/demotivated/stressed-out? Time to re-think, edit & iterate! Making tweaks doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Taking time to reflect & recalibrate (not bury our heads in the sand!) is part of any long-term plan.

So, there you have it. It may not be sexy or sell books like a promise of the new year’s diet that actually works, but slow and steady wins the health and wellness race every time. Small, incremental changes that are easy to implement and even easier to maintain – for the long haul – are where I like to focus with clients. No deprivation, no going hungry, no food groups banned…just a moderate and consistent approach, personalised to the individual, and backed up by science. So if you’re ready to finally FEEL BETTER & THRIVE in 2024, you know what to do. Dodge the New Year New You trap and seek professional advice from a properly qualified Registered Nutritional Therapy Practitioner or BANT Registered Nutritionist.



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