Flexible Dieting

The one diet this pharmacist recommends, here is what you need to know.

By Holly Louise Fitness, Pharmacist and expert for Body Science

We are constantly being told to “eat well” and stay away from “bad foods”, especially if we want to lose weight. However, experience has shown that when you place yourself into a restrictive diet which labels food as “good” or “bad” or even eliminates whole food groups, you become more susceptible to binge eating. This in turn creates feelings of guilt and generates negative emotions, resulting in a very unhealthy relationship with food and body image. In order to have a healthy relationship with food and with ourselves, we need to change this mentality and become aware of how our bodies actually respond to food.

five elements

Good food are those rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and other essential nutrients

What we need to know about food

We need to understand that our bodies do not identify foods as good, bad, healthy or unhealthy – they identify the macronutrient breakdown of the food we consume. Every food is made up of macronutrients, which includes protein, carbohydrates and fat and each of these have a corresponding caloric value:

- Protein = 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates/sugars = 4 calories per gram
- Fat = 9 calories per gram

What makes a food “good”

Foods that are considered “good” for us are usually whole foods which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other essential nutrients and as such are best described as nutrient-dense. These foods are generally low in calories, keep us feeling full and should make up the majority of our diets.

What makes a food “bad”

Foods that are considered “bad” for us generally contain a fair amount of fat, sugar or both and not many nutrients. However, rather than slapping a “bad” label on these foods, it is best to describe them as more calorie-dense (contains a lot of calories in a small amount) and as such are not the best choice to consume on a regular basis. This is because these foods do not contain many nutrients and don’t usually keep us feeling satisfied for long, making it very easy to overeat.

What is flexible dieting?

Firstly, flexible dieting is not a diet – it is an approach to nutrition. It involves meeting daily targets of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) that have been calculated specifically for you in order to reach a specific body composition goal. The focus is on reaching these targets as the driver of your results, with food selection left up to you. With this being said, at least 80% of the foods you eat on a daily basis should be composed of nutritious whole foods, while 20% can be used for more processed foods. This creates enjoyment and sustainability with your diet which in turn improves long term adherence and results!


Every food is made up of macronutrients, which includes protein, carbohydrates and fat

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