Found myself in some lukewarm water last month when I shared a tiny sample of my disdain for “organized dieting”, AKA fad diets. While I would love (and plan) to jump right into a discussion on some of the other silly nutrition trends out there, I can’t seem to escape the words of ol’ Momma DeRuisé: “Don’t complain unless you’re going to offer a solution.” So here it is, a brief synopsis on my personal nutrition beliefs; founded in formal education, a lot of informal education, and thousands and thousands of miles raced on a mountain bike around the world. Here goes nothing!

I am a dedicated practitioner of Functional Feasting™.

What is #FF you ask? It’s the Instagram Influencer name that I just made up in a coffee shop while writing this for the seemingly boring nutritional philosophy that I preach everywhere I go. In a nutshell, it’s mindfully eating whatever makes sense, whenever it makes sense. Here’s how it works:

First, don’t be led astray by the term “feast”. In some cases it does represent a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson cheat meal amount of food, but it can also mean a handful of almonds on top of some kale. That’s where the “functional” part of Functional Feasting comes into play.

Step 1: Set Your Sights

The #FF journey only works if you know where you want to go. Nutrition ties into every single goal we have in life, in some way or another. At the foundation we eat for energy and nourishment. But at a much bigger level, we eat for our goals. What are you eating for? Do you want to be a world class cyclist? Do you want to be a body builder? Are you a businessman trying to lose 10 lbs? Maybe a single parent just trying to gain more energy. Everyone’s goals are different, but the first step for your Functional Feasting is to be as clear as possible with what you want to accomplish.

Step 2: Read Up

I understand this is the least popular step, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to be a successful Functional Feaster out in the wild. Traveling for business but need to stay up with your new FF diet? Dodging the advice from the girl at Soul Cycle who’s a vegan Keto paleontologist on her third juice cleanse this month? Trying to blend in at Christmas dinner? Knowing the basics and understanding the nutritional elements of your goals is your greatest tool in each scenario.

While scheduling a consult with a Registered Dietitian is ideal, most goals can be knocked out with home research. You simply want to identify any special macro and micro needs a person pursuing your goal may have. In just a brief amount of time on the internet, you’ll realize there’s a wide spectrum of recommendations out there, but the reliable information will be found in the middle part, written by people with MS, MD, RD, or Phd at the end of their name. Your research doesn’t need to be perfect – it’s just a starting point on your journey.

Bonus Fact – did you know the term “nutritionist” is nonsense and means absolutely nothing? That’s right, anyone with a mild interest in eating can call themselves a nutritionist since this term has no legal legitimacy. The term you want to look for when seeking a certified expert in nutrition is Registered Dietitian. 

Step 3: Live Life

Alright my Functional Feasters, we’re about to get this journey underway. You now have a clear goal, a foundation in the nutrition needed to reach that goal, and you’re ready to get to it. The final step is to get out into the world, live your life to the fullest, and decide whether or not to eat things by asking yourself “Will this help me reach my goal?” That’s it. 

Sometimes you’re going to eat things that receive an answer of “not really” and “no”, and depending on your goal that is probably just fine. However, in order to reach your goal you simply want to make sure the majority of your answers are “Yes!”

I want to conclude by recognizing my readers with extraordinary goals. While I do want the world of nutrition and health to be one that anyone can confidently navigate on their own without the ridiculous pressures from fad diets and “nutrition gurus” on the internet; extraordinary goals require extraordinary measures. The philosophy I’ve laid out here still applies, but Step 2 needs to be taken to another level and I would always suggest seeking the guidance of a professional to make sure you are properly and extensively educated on your nutritional needs. Further, Step 3 can only see the answer “YES”, which will often require planning, foresight, and abstaining from a lot of restaurants and types of food.

Lastly, I’d suggest all my Functional Feasters out there learn about all of the different trendy diets and fads. Read the cases for them as well as the cases against them. Many times, you’ll realize the best way to reach a goal is actually pretty close to one of the major fad diets, which is great. When this is the case you are still making your dietary choices because you’re informed, not simply because you are a loyal follower of “diet X”, which is in this month.