How Flexible Dieting Can Help You Achieve Those New Year Goals 

With the holiday season sadly coming to an end, the anticipation of a new year is in full swing. The beginning of a new year always has everyone fired up! A new year fills us with new desires, hopes, and inspirations that lead to all the new possibilities and goals that one can achieve.  

Most everyone creates an annual list of goals for everything they want to work on in the coming year, and health is no question, usually a top priority on that list. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can say, every year these health goals may be slightly different because each year our bodies may be slightly varied from last years. Some of us may constantly fluctuate. Or some may have maintained exactly where they were last year and are now looking to put on muscle. Or some may be ready to take the full plunge and go after the dramatic transformation they’ve always dreamed of! Whatever the goal may be, diet and exercise will always be key. 

Exercise is simple. Just move. Just do what you like to do that keeps you moving every day. Diet, however, has been coming a long way since the “no carbs” days or “same plate for all” days. Luckily, we live in this day and age when you can eat anything and achieve your goals. Nope, didn’t stutter… ANYTHING. How is that possible? Enter flexible dieting.  

As a previous straight edge nutritionist, I used to counsel all my clients very clean cut. Today, I know, there are more ways than one to skin a cat.  

Flexing dieting is a method taking the fitness world by storm. A specific term you will hear floating under this bubble is If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). But, as a nutritionist, I also came up with a relative term of my own, IIFYG – If It Fits Your Goals. IIFYM is fitting any foods into your macronutrient goals, whereas IIFYG is fitting appropriate foods in to meet my goals. 

Jumping from a joyous holiday season of most likely overindulgence, into a straight edge, clean cut, goal driven New Year, is pretty tough to just flip the switch come January 1st. We’ve heard it year after year – people go hard out the gates and usually fall off before the second month even rolls around. So why not ease into these goals? And better yet, what if you can still be achieving all of your goals and having flexibility in the foods you eat? Flexible dieting allows you that pleasure. It is a matter of eating foods that nourish your body for health and good functionality, while occasionally throwing in something tasty for your mentality and taste buds.  

Remember, calories, macronutrients (or macros), and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), are all important for optimal health. In the past, most diets focused mainly on caloric intake. We now know dividing those calories into appropriate macros is just as important. Macronutrient goals are calculated based on the individual, their activity level, and their end goals in mind. The idea behind IIFYM is that as long as you stay within your allotted numbers, theoretically, there is no limitation on what foods you can eat to meet them. Meaning, if your calculations say you can have 200g of carbohydrates each day, you can eat whatever you want in carbohydrates if you stay within 200 grams for the day. So, instead of focusing on calorie intake, you track your macro intake, which usually provides a consistent, accurate caloric intake each day towards your goal. It’s kind of similar to the point system with Weight Watchers.  

Flexible dieting allows endless, personalized ways to eat each day. Once you know your appropriate calorie intake and macro split to reach your goals, you can map out foods to “fit” into your daily plan to meet these goals. For example, let’s say the boys want to watch the game and grab some pizza (290 calories per slice with 35g Carbs, 12g Protein, and 11g Fat in each). You would track these numbers into your daily intake – subtract 35g from your daily total allowance of grams in carbs, subtract the protein grams from their total, and fat as well. If It puts you over, you can either cut back how much you were going to eat, or you can rearrange your other food intake for the day to stay within your daily macros. 

Bottom line, yes, you can eat whatever you want, stay within your macros for the day, and see results. Scientifically speaking. But, this is where I throw the term IIFYG at you. Don’t forget, you are what you eat. Healthy insides are often forgotten because people are more caught up in aesthetics. But don’t neglect them. Sure, you’ve attained your outside shell with super, flexible dieting, but what do your insides look like? How are they functioning? How are you feeling on a daily basis? Because even though sausage, pancakes, butter, and syrup have the same macronutrient breakdown as a veggie egg white omelet, avocado, and a fruit salad, the human body doesn’t use these foods in the same manner.  Yes, both meals have the same calories and macros (with appropriate portioning, of course), so both meals do meet your goals. But both contain totally different micronutrients, and are different sources of macros, and are processed differently internally. 

But that’s the enticement of flexible dieting, and why it’s hot on everyone’s radar; when a craving strikes, you can occasionally fit the yummy stuff in and stay on track. Or if you have a staple that you can’t live without (*cough*, chocolate), then make it part of your diet! If it is something you must have every day, it doesn’t have to come out of your diet plan. Calculate the accurate macros for that staple, put it in your plan, and adjust all your other foods accordingly. Or find foods that completely satisfy those cravings and throw them in – for me, Cocoa Hazelnut Spread always does the chocolate trick! It’s a good source of macros, has a great taste and thus is frequently on my plan! 

To start, use a tracking app to help you monitor your intake. This will help ensure you are meeting your intake goals, while enjoying yourself. Planning is key to being successful at flexible dieting. When done right, it could be what helps you stick to your plan this year. With flexible dieting, you can have your cake and eat it too, every day! 

 

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Article Courtesy Of: Dani Capanna, MS, DTR, CDM, CPT