Pondering keto, juice cleanses or plant-based eating?


This checklist will help you really decide what works for you

Last week, I was at a dinner party chatting with a lovely woman (and yes, she knows I’m blogging about this). She had just finished a three-day juice cleanse offered by a local Toronto company, where she spent $175 on juices (yes, three days = $175). She said it didn’t really do much, and wanted to know if she should continue juicing, and how often.

I’m not really one to give on-the-fly consultations, but I’m always happy to provide practical advice. And it doesn’t matter if you are contemplating keto, paleo, juicing, veganism or a low-fat diet, the advice I give is the same: It’s called my “three point plan for diet decisions,” and it empowers people to think critically before jumping into any new eating plan.

Ask yourself these three questions:

1. Can I afford this plan? Money is plentiful for some people. But more likely, you don’t have unlimited funds to spent on grass-fed organic beef or fresh-pressed juices. In this situation, my dinner party neighbor said that she most certainly could not spent $175 every three days and keep that up for the long term. It’s best to spend money on nutritious food that tastes great and is a good value.

Take away: Know your budget and operate within it.

2. Is it easy for me to follow this plan? If you have to go out of your way to pick up rare ingredients, or if you can’t order off a basic restaurant menu because your chosen requirements are so unique, it unlikely that you’ll stick to the plan in the long term. In the case of my dinner companion, she was only juicing for three days, but in that time, she attended her friend’s housewarming party, and didn’t eat or drink a thing. Awkward. She also had to ensure her juice was always refrigerated, which

wasn’t possible at work. So, she had to use ice packs and a cooler

Take away: If it’s taking too much time to source, buy and prepare the foods you need to eat, or if is feeling disruptive to your life, your plan is probably too hard to follow.

3. Do I enjoy the food on this plan? As my dinner companion was describing the juices, she made that “gag” noise when she talked about the ‘cactus’ flavour that she received. It was gross, she explained. She then coyly admitted “actually, I hate juice in general.” So here it is: If you don’t like the food and beverages on a particular diet plan, then don’t choose that diet plan. The idea that you need to suffer or eat awful food that you don’t enjoy is a hindering mindset. Why make that choice? It’s better to enjoy delicious food that makes you feel good.

Take away: Eat what you enjoy, and skip the foods that you don’t like.

If you have the ability to make choices without restriction, make them wisely. Of course, remember that this piece is specifically written for people who choose their eating plan, not for those who have to follow a specific plan for a medical reasons (i.e. avoiding dairy due to a milk protein allergy, or eschewing gluten because of celiac disease). Sometimes our choices are made for us – simply by the health care that our body needs.

Whether you are following a medically-required diet and find it difficult to enjoy, or you want to figure out which eating plan is best for you, talk to a culinary-focused dietitian for inspiration. Here are some contacts (in addition to the city listed, all of these dietitians offer “virtual” consulting online as well).

It’s just as easy to toss an apple into their school bag as it is to add chips. These whole food snacks are good options: