It can be tempting to jump right into the latest diets that are being touted on the web, from paleo to keto to vegan. But as healthy as these diets seem (we’re constantly seeing other people’s positive results!), it’s important to check with your doctor, nutritionist or pharmacist before you commit. Everybody is different, and a diet that’s healthy for one person may not be suitable for someone else. So before you cut dairy, fish or other foods out of your diet, ask a health professional these five questions.
1. Do I Have Any Pre-Existing Conditions?
Pre-existing conditions—including diabetes or pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anemia and more—can influence your approach to dieting and exercising. Be sure to ask your doctor if there are any red flags on your bill of health that would preclude you from trying certain regimens (or make a specific eating plan your best course of action).
2. Am I on Any Medications that Could Affect Me Adversely?
Pretty much all medications have side effects and it is possible for foods to have a negative impact on them. Warfarin, for example, is a commonly prescribed blood thinner that makes kale—a darling of the health world—dangerous to consume because of its high volume of vitamin K. Be sure to let your nutritionist or pharmacist know of any medications you’re taking (even over-the-counter ones) to ensure that your diet is safe and healthy.
3. Am I Getting Enough Iron?
This is particularly important for people who are thinking of reducing their red meat intake. If you’re not getting enough of this mineral, you can develop anemia—a common illness that may lead to a host of other health problems. Dietary sources of iron like fish, spinach, lentils and beans—or in some cases, supplements—might be a good idea if you’re deficient or at risk of having an iron deficiency.
4. What Am I Missing?
There are so many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fatty acids that we should be attempting to have in our diets—it’s not hard to miss one! Consider keeping a food diary for a week or two, detailing everything you eat. Then show this to your doctor, nutritionist or pharmacist and ask if there are any glaring problems. You may need to adjust your diet or add some supplements to the mix to ensure that you’re getting all of the nutrients you need.
5. What Should I Cut Out or Reduce?
This can be an unpleasant question to ask since doctors or nutritionists could very well recommend that you stop eating some of your favorite foods. But it’s essential if you want to live a healthier lifestyle. In some cases, it’s obvious what cuts should be made (think processed sweets or fried foods), but others are less so (like “whole grain” breads that are filled with refined sugar and flour). A professional opinion might be exactly what you need to get on the right track.
Asking questions is the first step to becoming more informed and, ultimately, finding a diet that will make you healthier and stronger. Never be afraid of seeming ignorant—health professionals like doctors, nutritionists and pharmacists will be happy to help you get on the right path.
To discover more about healthy eating—and the science behind it—check out our guide to essential minerals.
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