The other day while scrolling through Instagram, as I typically do as part of my downtime, I noticed a particular pattern from someone I follow who labels herself as a “celebrity nutritionist”. She’s been taking recipe creations from TikTok and critiquing the recipe by shaking her head as if to say “yes I approve” or “no I don’t”. Sometimes she’ll add commentary in writing about the “health” of the recipe and whether she approves it or not. 

Keep in mind this celebrity nutritionist has her own diet plan on the market, so certainly she could be judging these recipe creations based upon what she would approve for her own diet plan; however, that isn’t clearly stated as part of her critique. Almost every time I see this type of IG reel pop up on my feed, I’m slightly triggered because of what I’ve learned as a Registered Dietitian.

Even when I look at her posts from the angle of a certified health coach, I give her the side-eye a bit, mostly because I’d encourage her to remember that we all have different preferences, and our physiology also plays a part in our response to different food choices. Some of the recipes she approves of I know wouldn’t work well for me personally. Others that she advises to avoid may actually work better for my body and my goals.

While I may not be a celebrity nutritionist, I do consider myself to be pretty well-informed and open-minded when it comes to nutrition education. I’ve never really bought into the “one size fits all” approach to nutrition, which is why I love my job as a Metabolic Optimization Coach. It is safe to say my client roster is full of clients achieving their goals even though none of their diets look exactly the same. 

Maybe my comments thus far make me seem like I’m hating on her a bit, and that isn’t at all my intention. I still follow her and I think her plan can be reasonable for some, but not best for all. Plus, I understand part of the reason she is posting these reels on Instagram is to sell her plan and her products as part of a marketing strategy. 

So how does this relate to designing a healthy diet if weight loss is your goal? According to the USDA, a “healthy diet” involves creating an eating pattern that provides enough of each essential nutrient, without eliminating any one food group and instead choosing a variety of foods from each essential food group. A “healthy diet” should also focus on balancing calories in a way that allows you to achieve and sustain your ideal weight. Typically this involves limiting things like trans fats or hydrogenated oils, high sugar foods, and avoiding alcohol. 

“Eating healthy is NOT the same as eating for weight loss. Eating more of the right foods can reduce calories for sure, but there are plenty of people who don’t lose, and can even gain, from trying to eat “healthy.”

~ Dr. Jade Teta

Because our program operates on the principles of becoming a metabolic detective, our definition is different. Notice how Dr. Jade’s philosophy of what makes up a “healthy diet” differs:

  • Healthy means different things to different people.
  • You can overeat healthy foods just like you can overeat other foods.
  • Plenty of healthy foods are still high in calories (which by the way doesn’t always mean nutrient-dense in the way of supplying your body with plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.).
  • A healthy meal is neither healthy or weight loss friendly if, as a result of eating it, you eat more and worse foods later.

To elaborate on Dr. Jade’s principles, what you personally define as a healthy diet may also shift and change over time. There have been periods in my own life, for example, where I’ve felt best on more of a Paleo diet versus periods in my life where I’ve simply just worked to hit certain macros daily. No matter the dietary approach, however, the goal was always to create a diet that keeps my SHMEC in check and helps me to achieve my personal goals. 

I’d encourage you to start to refine your diet according to our principles if weight loss is your goal and if you’ve been confused about how to create your own version of a healthy diet. Look to your SHMEC first, tweak from there, and monitor your results over time. As you are doing so, remember that weight loss is often a process not a protocol. In other words, stay aware and mindful of how your body responds to how you are nourishing it. Pay attention to all of the subtle changes that go on to impact your sleep, hunger, mood, energy, and cravings.

Now that you know more about how a healthy diet differs from person to person, and you understand that a healthy diet isn’t always necessarily composed of foods you might see promoted by influencers and gurus, are you going to make some changes to your nutrition plan? What if weight loss is your goal? If you use Dr. Jade’s definition of a healthy diet versus the definition created by the USDA, how do you view the food choices that you are making on a more regular basis? Let us know!

Photo by Total Shape on Unsplash