New Year Fundamentals

The lights, the trees, the jingle-jangle—it can only mean one thing!  Diet culture and the weight-loss industry are poised to pounce as the seconds tick down to 2022, leaving positive body image, mental health and hard-earned money in its wake. When November turned to December, the seeds began to be planted.  Articles created doubt in tried-and-true science, forcing the public to consider a magic bullet or potion to attain the gold standard of living—thinness.  Why is it that every January the notion that the key for achieving happiness and success is by shedding weight?  Inevitably, a friend, family member or athlete will ask what you think of the next supplement fad, food craze or detox.  Your answer will fuel or extinguish the momentum of their thought.

Humans are wired to challenge themselves and compete. They envy those who were able to discipline themselves to achieve and outlast and praise their dedication with positive feedback for weight loss.  Why don’t those of us, who are in the health and performance industry, use achievement, outlasting, and dedication to our advantage?  We need to reframe the messages that advertisers have created, and attack the “why” with our own “how.”

New Year—New You isn’t really about weight loss. It’s about reinvigorating us, especially when we’re in a rut without goals or direction. We’ve been programmed to believe that weight and weight gain are to blame for the lack of zeal in life. We’re told that the solution is easy.  Use supplements, pills or weight-loss schemes that will get results quickly and catapult us into a thinner body that can adopt “healthy habits” later.  As nutrition professionals, we have to attack the root of this issue.  Let’s avoid the power struggle that is associated with debunking the potions and establishing a better plan.  The solution is not weight loss; the byproduct is weight loss. The solution is committing to relentless execution of the fundamentals.

How can pistachios fit into your fueling programs?

  • For those wishing to include more plant-based options, pistachios is a complete protein, easy to eat on the go.
  • Pistachios contain fiber and carbohydrate to help with digestion and promote a functional microbiome.
  • Pistachios contain three different kinds of antioxidants: lutein, zeaxanthin and anthocyanin.
  • Healthy fats provide satiety and aid in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

This is where we can use the inborn desire to sacrifice as a means to inspire. Define relentless for your friends and family. This doesn’t allow for “cheat days” or for “one offs.”  To achieve great results, one must commit because transformation doesn’t occur by doing the right thing ONCE.  The right choice has to be made with consistency.

Define the fundamentals and help friends, family or athletes. Remember, the “magic” of the pill or potion seems to be a simple, doable option.  Each dietitian will phrase these in a different manner – but to create the whole picture, here are some examples.

1. Food supply.  Identify what it means to overeat and under-eat. Example: Binge eating and skipping meals are not a part of fueling. This will only sabotage healthy progress.

  • For the Novice. Encourage them to invest in a meal prep system that controls quality of food, portion size and balance so that all they have to do is set an alarm, heat up their food and enjoy it. Cost shouldn’t be the barrier if they are willing to invest in supplements, detoxes, and food fads–all expensive, including the money for the food.  With meal prep options that are cheaper than Uber eats or Grubhub, it’s easy to see the benefit of investing in food. 
  • For the Experienced. Help with shopping lists and meal prep ideas. Use resources from the Food Network, Cooking Light, APG’s Celebrity Chef videos and other dietitians, YouTube or social media. Inspire the culinary minded to find accountability in the kitchen—commit to preparation and portioning of their foods, which segues nicely into discussions about food quality.

2. Balance. Oftentimes, people associate eating fewer calories by cutting out food groups. Helping them to understand that macronutrients are like teammates – everyone has a role. By eliminating one food group, it will make the metabolism inefficient.

  • For the Novice. Use the tried-and-true hand sizes or performance plates to create a clear picture. Hopefully, they are using meal prep for meals, but they may still need help with snacks.  University sports nutrition departments, Duke and Northwestern for instance, have great infographics on their Instagram accounts about what makes a snack like, “choose a protein, carb and color.”
  • For the Experienced. Discuss ratios for success.  For example: 3:1 carbohydrate to protein may be a good rule of thumb.  In the sports world, athletes, coaches and staff can remember scores, stats and records of every team they worked with. So, why not remember how many carbohydrates and how much protein are in foods?  Challenge them to get to know their foods. Teach them how to read a label in order to find the benefits of the snacks they wish to eat, and understand the portion size that will still be functional in their fueling plan.

3. Quality Standards. The supplement industry has succeed by creating doubt and concern regarding the quality of the food supply.  They take shots at the FDA and big food industry, like beef or dairy, hoping the American public will place their trust in their proprietary blend and unregulated formula. It’s key, however, not to talk about the deficiencies of the weight loss supplements, instead focus on what the benefits of eating quality foods bring.

  • For the Novice. Challenge them to choose restaurants based on quality.  Chipotle, Cava, Zoe’s, In n Out, Mendocino Farms, Panera Bread, Flame Broiler or Waba Grill should be their go-to quick-food spots, because choosing restaurants that support their goals will be crucial to their success.  Snacks should be whole foods that provide more than just a calorie, like pistachios, bananas, Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, and granola—all easy options.
  • For the Experienced. Ask them if they know where their foods come from. Buying locally grown foods, or at least grown in the US, is a great way to ensure quality and standards. Added environmental benefits come from locally grown like decreasing the cost of transportation in both carbon footprint and finance.  Establish guidelines that limit how many packages are opened or how many meals per week should be made outside the home.

This year, let’s take back the holiday season.  No longer will I contribute to the power struggle of “us or them.”  Taking a page from the weight-loss industry, we can reframe their message and plant seeds of doubt in THEIR products, introduce the tried-and-true solutions, and identify simple and sustainable solutions. With plan in hand let’s go confidently into every holiday party with resources to battle diet culture in 2022.