WHAT IS FLEXIBLE DIETING?
Meet one our amazing Ambassadors Elin Granstrand, nutrition coach and founder of Lotus Health Co.
Elin is here to tell us about all things flexible dieting:
"Before I explain what flexible dieting is, I wanted to explain a little bit about myself and why I believe this is the key to stop feeling guilty about food and finding a healthy balance in life. I’m going to try and keep this as short as I can, but I feel like it’s important to know as I know a lot of people will be able to relate to my journey.
I started my first diet when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I just did it because all the other girls in the class were doing it, ‘getting lean for summer’.
My diet wasn’t very complicated, I basically just cut out all my carbohydrates and fats as I thought they were ‘bad’ and ate nothing but chicken breast, tuna, egg whites and salad for 8 weeks.
Of course this wasn’t sustainable and as soon as I stopped, I put all the weight back on again - this was the start of what was going to turn into a 10 year long cycle of yo-yo dieting.
After that diet, I just jumped from diet to diet. I’d stick to it for a few weeks or months, have one little slip up, think that I failed and go into a binge eating cycle that would sometimes last for days (one time I even called in sick to work because I wanted to stay home and eat).
The binge eating stopped when I found macro counting, but I kind of just replaced one obsession with another and became obsessed with hitting my macros and ‘fueling my body’. I wouldn’t eat anything that wouldn’t improve my performance or help my recovery and if something happened that meant I wouldn’t be spot on with my macros I would have a breakdown and think that I had failed.
Obviously this wasn’t sustainable either and after being home for Christmas, I realised that what I was doing wasn’t healthy and I stopped tracking all together. By this time I had already started my nutrition certificate as I was very interested in nutrition and loved helping people.
That’s when I came across a post about flexible dieting on Instagram. I remember thinking to myself, ‘how can these people eat that food and still look and feel so great?’.
I started researching it, tried it myself and got the best results I’d ever had!
I no longer felt restricted with my food, which led my cravings to disappear. I didn’t feel like I had to say no to social things and I learned that one little slip-up wasn’t going to destroy my day and that I could just work around it. I knew that this was what I wanted to base my business on and this was how I was going to help change peoples lives. Flexible Dieting is based on counting macronutrients and calories.
In simple terms, to lose weight, you need to consume less than we expand and to gain weight, you need to consume more than you expand.
The reason why Flexible Dieting has you tracking macronutrients (‘macros’) and not just calories is because if someone only counted calories, there is a very large risk of them not eating enough of one nutrient and too much of the other. By counting macros we can ensure that you still eat enough protein to support muscle protein synthesis, enough carbohydrates to support performance and recovery and enough fat to support a healthy hormone production.
Flexible dieting often gets a bad rep as people sometimes like to look at it from a “If It Fit My Macros” standpoint and use it as an excuse to fit as much ‘junk’ into their diet as possible.
This is not how I teach it.
I believe in the 80/20 rule and that you can have everything in moderation.
I believe that the main part of your diet should be made up from plants, protein, healthy fats and whole grains - things that will improve your overall health and lifestyle, but I also think that there need to be room for that donut or ice cream, the foods that are good for your soul.
Unless you can’t ever see yourself having those things again, you need to find a way to fit them into your diet, otherwise you’re just creating restrictions and the more restriction you have, the more cravings you’re going to get.
I teach my clients to look at their calories like a budget and how they choose to ‘spend’ their calories is up to them. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, only foods that are more or less nutritious. HIgher or lower in calories. Some foods might make you full for longer and be able to provide you with energy for a long time, which is very beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight, while some foods provide you with a lot of energy for a shorter amount of time.
Someone who has a lot of calories to spend and has a larger ‘budget’ will have more room for that soul food while someone who has less calories to spend and a smaller ‘budget’ will have less calories for that kind of food.
You can compare this to buying a first class plane ticket. For someone who makes millions of dollars per year, that first class ticket probably won’t make that much of a difference, but for someone who doesn’t make as much, that first class ticket will mean they’ll have to save for a long time to be able to afford it. This is just like how someone who has a smaller calorie budget might struggle to fit that donut in while someone who eats 3000+ calories per day can do it quite easily.
I believe that flexible dieting works as it teaches you to look at food for what it is - energy.
It stops you from thinking of food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and teaches you how you can have your favourite foods as a part of a healthy diet. It might take a few weeks or months to learn and you might get frustrated at the start, but if you put in the time and effort to learn about calories and macros and what’s in what food, I truly do believe it is the key to finding nutritional freedom and a life free from guilt and restrictions.
As with any diet, Flexible Dieting also comes with some cons like how much time you’ll have to spend learning these skills. It can also be triggering for people who have an unhealthy relationship to their body and with food as it will require you to keep track of everything you eat. This might make that relationship worse and if this is you, I highly recommend you to speak to a Medical Professional.
At the end of the day, I know that Flexible Dieting helped change my life and my clients lives. It’s been a game changer that completely changed how I look at food and how I live my life.
Does it require you to keep track of your calories and your ‘spendings’? Yes
Do youneed to keep track of your calories to lose weight? No, but you also don’tneed to keep track of your spendings to save money, but it helps, just like it helps to keep track of your calories.
Whether you choose to track your calories or not, calories will always matter."
Elin will be answering any questions you may have over on our "Better you Group" on Thursday, so don't forget to join us then.