This past weekend, I was helping my mom out at her flower shop.
She was under-staffed for a big event and asked if I could lend a hand to help set up for a large wedding.
While I was waiting for all of the flowers to be finished so we could load them up, one of her staff members (let’s call her Ann) came up to me and asked:
“Jason, I wanted to ask you… There are so many diets out there: keto, paleo…which one is the best one for losing weight?”
“The one you can adhere to.”
And of course, as unsexy as that response is, I could see the hope deflate from Ann’s face.
So, I owed it to her to elaborate and I thought I’d share those thoughts with you this week as well.
To start, there’s nothing “wrong” with any diet.
That being said, there are some diets that are likely ill-fitted for certain health conditions. For instance, I wouldn’t encourage a person with a heart condition or high cholesterol to adopt a high fat diet like keto.
I can play both sides of that fence and say that maybe, just maybe, if said keto diet helps that person successfully lose fat and keep it off then perhaps the heart condition improves.
There’s just something about a diet that’s at least 70% fat that tells me: maybe my ticker isn’t going to be happy with me. Call…me…crazy…
To that, I said to her: “If you want a really easy way to lose fat, take your diet as it is, and write it down. Don’t count calories, don’t count macros, don’t judge your food choices. Just write it down and ask yourself: Where can I cut back?”
Ann looked at me like I had three heads. Sometimes I feel like I do.
“As an example,” I said, “let’s assume you had a donut today.”
She laughed and said: I did have a donut today!
I chuckled as well and asked: “Would it have been too much to ask that you only eat half of it? Or maybe less than half? Would that have been sufficient?”
Ann smiled and said: “Yes, I think I could have done that.”
I looked down and saw that she had an insulated mug with coffee. I happened to notice the particularly light color of that coffee.
I pointed and asked: “Now, consider your coffee. What do you put in there?”
She blushed and said: “Cream and sugar.”
“That’s right, and you probably didn’t measure either of them, you just poured them in until you got the color and taste you wanted.”
She nodded her head in agreement.
“Try measuring them for a few days. See how little of each you can get away with that you’ll still enjoy your coffee.”
Ann said: “But I’m such an emotional eater. My husband tells me to just stop buying certain foods.”
“Your husband is right. If it’s in the house, you’re more likely to eat it. And if you can’t trust yourself in the grocery store due to the allure of all the snacks and treats, then start buying your groceries online and picking them up. It may not stop you from buying the Snickers bar but at least that bar isn’t staring you in the face while you’re waiting for the person in front of you to check out. I worked in retail for 16 years. There’s a legitimate reason they call those items “impulse items.” Droves of marketers know exactly what they’re doing!”
We left the conversation there because we had to keep working on the event.
So, I’ll add this:
Just me pointing out the areas that I saw in her diet (the donut and the calorie-laden coffee) could give Ann 300-600 calories out of her current diet if she could just make some substitutions. 300-600 calories dropped out of her daily intake may be all she needs to actually see fat loss occur. That depends on what she puts back in to replace the donut and how much she removes from her coffee each day.
And, I have to be honest, just because the fix sounds easy and very effective to me, doesn’t mean that Ann will actually do it.
However, what it can show is that it’s not about the next diet you pick, it’s about being crystal clear on what you’re actually eating and making more strategic choices from there.
It’s not sexy, it’s not flashy, it won’t sell books off the shelves.
But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work.
Rather than ask what the best diet is for you to follow, ask yourself how you can make your current diet better.