Goodbye Dieting, Hello Health Coaching
Updated: Mar 17
I grew up in a family where having a chronic condition like Type 2 diabetes or heart disease was considered inevitable, almost like a rite of passage. Even at a young age, I knew there had to be a better way—a way of enjoying life without the discomfort, pain, and fear that chronic diseases often carry with them. Helping others prevent or avoid these very burdens is what inspired me to become a health coach.
As I am connecting with each of you over video chat and via messages in the MyHealthCoach platform, I am hearing some common themes and frustrations. They are themes and frustrations I have heard repeatedly from patients over the last two decades:
"I've been on every diet out there. I'll lose some weight and inevitably gain it all back."
"I tried completely cutting out X from my diet and I felt really tired all of the time."
"I'll be doing fine eating what I'm supposed to; but then I’ll be bad and have ice cream and I get completely derailed."
I can empathize with each of these frustrations. I was a child of the eighties. My Dad used to start the day with a Slim Fast shake and not eat any actual food until dinner, when portion control went immediately out the window. I recall going with my mom to Jenny Craig and watching as she was upsold packages of meals, desserts and snacks that didn't look the least bit appetizing. I was both curious about the appeal and horrified I might also have to eat that stuff. And I all too clearly remember the excitement that abounded when Frito-Lay introduced Lay’s WOW Chips made with Olestra. The intrigue? It was impossible to gain weight eating too many of them…due to their laxative-like effect.
It can be easy to feel confused or overwhelmed by all the nutrition information--or misinformation--out there. The reality is most diets or eating programs that claim to be the answer are actually ineffective, under-nourishing and in the end, guaranteed to fail us. And most packaged foods disguised as “healthy” are simply processed foods wearing a fake halo.
How did we get here? Something as mundane as buying bread to make sandwiches has turned into a complicated, puzzling task as we face dozens of choices in the bread aisle. We don’t know what packaging claims to trust or which eating philosophy to believe in when it comes to carbohydrates. And we fear our purchases will be judged as bad choices by the diet police.
It all comes down to marketing. Diet programs and products that promise fast results sell. A lot In 2021, dieting had grown to a $71 billion dollar industry.
Meanwhile, the truly healthy way of eating isn't the least bit glamorous or exciting. It isn’t rapid. There isn't a magic food we can eat or pill we can take. The reality is, we need a combination of nutritious foods over the course of the day.
To simplify, here’s my elevator pitch of what healthy eating actually looks like:
Eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits
Focus on whole grains
Pick lean proteins
Drink water most of the time
This does not mean a brownie or a glass of wine is completely off limits. On the contrary, if we fuel our bodies mostly with nutrient-dense foods, we can absolutely enjoy extra stuffing on Thanksgiving, kickback with a beer on the weekends, and order dessert sometimes. We are allowed, and should be encouraged, to savor the foods we eat from kale to cookies.
The truth is, there is space for just about everything in a balanced diet, aside from guilt.* As your health coach, it is my responsibility to debunk all the erroneous nutrition information floating around so that you feel confident as you navigate food stores and restaurant menus. And it is an honor for me to support you on your wellness journey in a sustainable, delicious way.
*We will dig deeper into trans fats and other highly-processed ingredients in the future.