Nutrition for Life

Nutrition for Life - 2022

Dieting: Enjoy What You Eat

By Parul Kharod

Every few days, I get a message/email asking, “Can you create a diet chart for me?”

Very frankly, I am at a loss on how to respond to this question.

What does it mean to have a diet chart or what is dieting?

When you use the word dieting, it immediately implies restriction. It means you are “on a diet”. If you waiver from the “chart” given to you, you feel guilty – you are “cheating”!

That is not what food is supposed to be.

Food is our fuel! Food is supposed to nourish our minds, bodies, and soul. Food gives us energy. Food is not supposed to make you feel guilty or make you feel deprived. Your health is more than just a diet plan.

Very sadly, this whole culture of “dieting” to lose weight fast has created so many other issues.

I see an increase in eating disorders among young teenagers. I see other side effects of strict dieting such as acid reflux or elevated cholesterol and other health issues.

Your diet (which basically means what you eat on a routine basis) should not be about limitations or following a strict plan.

What you eat, when you eat, the timing of your meals, the gap/space between your meals, the balance of each meal, and your overall daily routine are all important. Most importantly, you should enjoy what you eat.

It is important to take into consideration your medical history, your family medical history, your job hours, your responsibilities, etc.

Research studies show that your mood and overall disposition when you eat can directly affect how you digest that meal. So, if you are feeling guilty because you “cheated” or are feeling deprived because you are “dieting”, you will not digest that meal properly. That can lead to digestive issues including acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and leaky gut. It won’t happen with one single meal obviously; but if you tend to jump from one diet plan to the other, the long-term effects can be detrimental.

According to Ayurveda, there are also nuances about what foods may be better for you depending on the stage of life you are at.

When you schedule a nutrition appointment with a Registered Dietitian, this is all we consider. It’s not as simple as me giving you a “diet chart” over WhatsApp or messenger. Each session is detailed and based on your nutritional needs according to your history and lifestyle.

If you have any medical condition, soliciting quick weight loss diets or other such advise could be harmful to your health, and may even prove fatal at times. There may be consequences such as hormone imbalances resulting in extreme hair loss, sluggish metabolism, and other problems. More importantly, one plan does not work for everyone. Each person has unique needs and that must be taken into consideration as well.

Just because someone has lost a lot of weight or is a personal trainer, or has taken an online or a three months certificate course in nutrition or someone who watches health shows or reads a lot on health –does not qualify her or him to be a dietitian.

It is also important to note that doctors are not the most reliable source for nutrition advice and often give out wrong information. This is because during the eight years of medical school, there is sometimes just one basic nutrition course offered. Moreover, most physician office visits are for 15 minutes only. That is not enough time to take your proper history and talk about the ideal nutrition plan for you.

Calorie counting does not always work. Carbs are not the enemy. Just because it’s cooked in olive oil does not make it healthier. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone! We do not need to do detox or juicing or take expensive powders or supplements.

When you are looking to transform your health, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Always look for qualified health professionals (Registered Dietitians) that give you proper advise and can explain why they are recommending what they are recommending. Any quick solutions that sound too good to be true, probably are. Any plan that asks you to weigh and measure every ingredient every day is not practical. Check if you are being asked to eat a large quantity of any one particular food or to avoid any foods without explanation. Always keep the big picture in mind and think about lifestyle changes to improve overall health rather than looking for quick fixes.

Make a well-informed decision for your health & ensure that whatever you embark on is simple to implement, practical, sustainable & affordable. And please don’t call it “dieting”!


Parul Kharod is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist and works as a Clinical Dietitian. She can be reached at parulkharod@gmail.com.