The holidays have come and gone and it’s time to get serious! Many people indugled in a continuous binge of food and drink including rich appetizers, home cooked food and delectable desserts for a month or more. How do you get serious after being bombarded by temptations? It can be quite a challenge. From my own experience of more than 21 years practicing as a clinical nutritionist, having the initiative to take the first step is the beginning of a successful plan.

Contrary to popular belief, findings have shown fad diets may not be a solution to the challenges of weight stability.

Meal replacement shakes and detoxifying juice cleanses, which avoid whole food groups, can temporarily give positive results. However, these results may be short lived. Often, these fad diets cause water loss rather than fat loss.

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During the first few weeks of fad dieting, a metabolic change takes place in the body. A sudden loss of weight occurs, but it is not sustainable long term. When you drastically reduce the calories ingested, the body releases stores of glycogen to draw needed energy.

Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate found in muscles and the liver. It retains water. When your body uses this carbohydrate for energy, it releases water. This process causes rapid weight loss that is not sustained after stopping the diet.

There are many schools of thought about the benefits of fad diets, also commonly known as crash diets. Research has found that many of these quick-fix approaches produce negative and damaging health effects. Following a healthy, sustainable, and realistic meal plan is more successful. Most fad diets are too restrictive to adhere to long term and may cause lasting ill side effects. After you abandon these fad diets, detox cleanses and various shakes, you will most likely re-gain the weight. In some instances, because of the changes occurring in your body, you may add more weight than you originally lost. This unsuccessful cycle may continue until you establish a balanced diet of protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

In my experience, each person’s body reacts differently and uniquely. Therefore, you should consider a customized program to help you with healthy food choices as you proceed with a sensible and adaptable lifestyle. As a nutritionist, having lost 45 pounds myself, I think the key to a successful, healthy lifestyle is adapting to a personalized, individual meal plan.

Let’s take breakfast. I think most will agree that it is an important start to the day. Eating a nutrient dense and varied breakfast may hold off cravings, sustain our energy, and effect our metabolism. We can be overwhelmed by trying to figure out what percentage of protein, carbohydrate or fat is ideal. How do we filter through this confusion? We each have our own fingerprint, so your meal plan should be personalized, too.

The personalized food plan begins with an overall assessment of you and your lifestyle. Are you active? How often are you active? Do you have a sedentary job or are you constantly on the move? What type of activity do you include in your daily life? Genetics could be a consideration. Therefore, how do you expect to succeed with a one diet mentality? Before proceeding with any changes in one’s diet you should obtain approval from a physician.

The whole food personalization meal plan includes foods that an individual truly enjoys. You can eat chocolate, snack foods, cake, and cookies, in moderation. The key, I have discovered, is cravings subside by including, not excluding. When you crave specific foods, you should consider the quality over quantity and eat it as a whole food. A whole food is a food that is minimally processed and as close to nature as possible. One such food is whole kale versus kale chips. This doesn’t mean you can eat with abandon. Including these cravings/tempting snacks as whole foods may make the difference between success or failure long term.

How you prepare and cook your food is essential to a successful outcome. The ingredients you use, and whether you bake, broil, roast or sauté make a difference.

While designing a personalized meal plan, your blood work, (taken in a lab) is essential. It may indicate blood sugar irregularities, hormonal imbalances, or the presence of a thyroid disorder. This may be indicative of why compliance is difficult. An individual’s blood work can reveal information about your biochemical individuality. Any approach in change of diet may be unattainable due to these irregularities. You can clearly see how a one-diet-fits-all approach would not be ideal.

After evaluating your blood work, in conjunction with nutritional knowledge, we can design a personalized food plan which meets your needs.

Implementing these nutritional guidelines and choosing healthy foods can increase your ability to adhere to a personalized food plan without cravings and promote lasting results.

Once you begin to eat better, you will feel better. You will want to consider a personalized individualized plan for a positive lifestyle change in 2018!

Linda Lonergan is a clinical nutritionist, with a master’s degree in food nutrition/biology. She is accredited by the American Dietetic Association and has been in private practice for 21 years. She specializes in personalized meal plans for all nutritional needs. She can be contacted at 914 522 0729 or NutritionKAngel@gmail.com. Visit her website NutritionKAngel.com.