It always seems to happen around this time of year. People start to cut out certain foods like bread, sugar or soda in an attempt to lose weight or get back on track after holiday indulging.  January is a new year, a new start, a fresh start.  This is the time of year we commit to doing the things we know we should, but haven’t been motivated to do so.  It is the time of year we take a step back, evaluate our lives and crave change.

Coming out of a cycle of parties, holiday foods and feasts, and most likely too much sugar, it is the practical thing to want to diet or commit to trying a different way of eating.  We hope that a fast, going paleo or cutting out gluten will help regain control of our eating, focus on healthier habits, and hopefully put us back on the right track.

However, let’s pause for a moment because whenever you decide to make a change, diving right in isn’t always the best method. You have to prepare in order to do it wisely and healthfully. Otherwise, you will stop and see a mountain in front of you with no tools for climbing.  There was a time I decided to be vegetarian. So I just stopped eating meat, thinking that was the only thing I had to do.  I didn’t take the time to learn about vegetarian proteins like legumes, whole grains, and higher protein vegetables. I didn’t take the time to learn how to properly prepare them. In fact, I didn’t increase my vegetable intake at all. Instead I just cut out the meat and kept eating refined products, dairy and a lot of pasta.  It didn’t work for me because I wasn’t doing it right.

Eliminating certain foods or food groups often cuts out key nutrients your body needs, making you feel worse in the long run. To successfully implement diet changes follow these next four steps.

STEP 1 – Research before starting

Before you begin find out what you need to replace and what foods are the best alternatives. After all, making a positive diet change is not just what you take out, but also what you put in! For instance, if you are cutting out bread, be sure to add in whole grains or more hearty vegetables to your diet, and research healthy recipes from gluten free or paleo books. If you are eliminating meat, be sure you know how to prepare legumes, beans, tempeh, tofu, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, and other vegetarian forms of protein.

If done correctly, elimination diets can do a world of wonders!  Eliminating a certain food can help the body to detoxify, clean out, and reset. Eliminating sugar, dairy, or processed food may (and most likely WILL) result in clearer thinking, reduced allergies, better sleep patterns, improved metabolism and healthier cravings – to name a few advantages.

STEP 2 – Stock up! 

Be sure to load your kitchen with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy snacks that would help replace any cravings you may have. Stock your pantry with healthy go-to items.  Make sure you have enough grab and go healthy foods to thwart your temptations.

STEP 3 – Enlist others to support you

To successfully make a change, you need support. So be sure to have a support network with friends or through an online group to motivate you and hold you accountable. Hiring a nutritionist will also hold you accountable, give you support and direction, as well as provide nutrition expertise through your diet changes.

STEP 4 – Do it slowly

You may let ambition take control, but often it is best to step into an elimination diet or a diet change, otherwise you might feel deprived…and deprivation is a real motivation killer.  So, if you are cutting out sugar, start cutting back on the items you plan to eliminate several weeks before you actually plan to start. For instance, start by eliminating the cookie during the day, added sugar in your coffee, and then finally the after dinner dessert or snack. Cutting back or cutting out allows you to regain control over your body, and what you are eating on a daily basis. It carves out time and energy for your body to clean out and make room for the good stuff.

Whatever your reason is for starting an elimination diet or fast, be sure to do it healthfully and lovingly. Remember that you are making a change because you love and appreciate your body. You are striving for better health to enjoy life to the fullest. Make a list of all the reasons you are making this change, and post that list up on your fridge or mirror for daily motivation.

Above all, remember to love yourself through any change. With love, motivation, support and a positive attitude, you can create beautiful health.

To successfully implement diet changes follow four steps.