Why you should ignore most dietary advice - Diligent Fitness

Why you should ignore most dietary advice

Having ‘how to’ info at the touch of a button is amazing. Want to lose weight? tone up? feel healthy? get fitter? no problem. Google (and the media) has got your back.

Most articles give us advice on the Best stuff we can do.

Now I love getting advice. And it’s certainly good to know what Best looks like. But what if Best is a little outside our reach right now? What if there are too many competing priorities on our plate? What then?

The problem with trying to take on Best is it encourages us to do too much. So we fail. Or worse, feel overwhelmed by how much we need to change and never start.

Mostly we read the article, nod our heads in agreement, and then go back to what we were doing in the first place.

I fell into the trap of going for Best

Classic example is when I started out personal training. You know that guy whose adamant you need schooling on the perfect way to do a push up, even though you were pleased you could just do one? I’d become that guy.

That guy who tells you to eat chicken breast from tupperware 5 times a day because you needed more protein, even though you just told him you’re a vegetarian. Cringe

That guy who insists that you need to commit to the gym 4-5 times per week, even though you were thinking it would be an achievement to make it once in a while?

That guy who dived in commando style to rescue your water bottle from the tiniest ray of sunlight lest it be leaching harmful chemicals into your water. Ok, so I did this like once. Per day.

I though because it could be done, we should all do it

I’d learned alot of stuff at PT school. Mostly about exercise science, nutrition and best practices. Unfortunately I learned very little about people.

I thought because I knew about something not only did I have to do it. Everyone should do it.

What I’d failed to realise was that the most stressful, complicated thing I had to do in a day was remember which way round to put my trousers on (I mostly get this right).

I overlooked that your life might be different. That you most likely have a few more challenges to deal with in a day. A family to look after. A job to hold down. Bills to pay. A household to manage.

My biggest failure was this: not accounting for what you were likely to be able to do given your current situation.

With age I like to think I got wiser. While I realised it’s good to know what Best is there’s something in-between what you’re already doing and Best that could be the key to seeing progress.

Worst – – – – BETTER – – – – Best.

To see results, Better’s where it’s at. It takes into account what you’re already doing. And only asks for a small improvement on that.

Better doesn’t ask for more than you can commit to. It considers your lifestyle and potential limitations.

Better is the answer to the question “what am I likely to be able to keep doing to get the results I want”.

Example 1:Let’s say you’re wanting to be more physically active. Currently your evening involves crashing out on the sofa with a glass of wine recovering from the stressful day you just had.

For now, don’t worry too much about trying to do five times a week at the gym. Even though that’s Best. Maybe going out for a five minute walk each day’s a Better place to start.

Prove to yourself that you can make time in your schedule for exercise on a regular basis first. Then build on that.

Example 2: Let’s say you love Kettle Chips. But you’re trying to eat in a way that’s better for you. You’re in the supermarket and the kettlechips catch your eye. You’re hypnotized and seem to be getting drawn closer against your will.

look into my eyes...

look into my eyes…

Worst choice might be to get the large bag and eat 90% telling yourself it’s ok because you didn’t eat the whole bag in one go. Best would stepping away from the Kettle Chips, leaving them on the shelf. Previously the only options were best or worst.

In reality there’s a whole range of options in between. One example might be:

Worst               >>>>>               Better          >>>>>          Best

Lg bag of kettlechips >>> sml bag of kettlechips >>> walk away from kettlechips

This isn’t just for Kettle Chips. This continuum exists for pretty much every food choice you make:

Choosing chocolate at the supermarket

Worst               >>>>>               Better          >>>>>          Best

Double Decker (3 pack) >>> Double Decker (single) >>> sml green & blacks

Ordering your coffee at Costa

Worst               >>>>>               Better          >>>>>          Best

Lg cappuccino & cake >>> sml cappuccino & share cake >>> americano

Selecting what you have for lunch

Worst               >>>>>               Better          >>>>>          Best

petrol station sandwich >>> homemade sandwich >>> large salad

Deciding what you have for dinner

Worst               >>>>>               Better          >>>>>          Best

Readymeal spaghetti carbonara >>> homemade carbonara >>> homemade bolognaise

Choosing what and how much to drink when you’re out

Worst               >>>>>               Better          >>>>>          Best

Bottle of white wine >>> Lg glass red of wine >>> sml glass red of wine

All of these could be worse and could be better, but hopefully you get the idea.


Better might be enough to get the result you’re looking for. So why do more? Put Best aside for now. Go for Better. You can always re-evaluate and decide if you really do need to step it up after a couple of weeks.

Start with what’s doable for you. Build your track record of with a series of smaller successes. And if you’re interested in improving in an area important to you try the little exercise below.

  1. Go through your day and select one situation where you often wish you’d made a better choice
  2. Establish what the worst choice is (write on the far left)
  3. Establish what the best choice would be (write on the far right)
  4. Write what you’d normally do
  5. Come up with what you think would be a small improvement on what you’d normally do
  6. Leave best and worst on the table and for the next couple of weeks go for Better
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