Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Whoops, sorry. There is no such thing. If there were a perfect diet, don't you think we would all know about it? And be on it? And be healthy? Instead of 36.5% of us being classified as clinically obese? Americans also spend the most on health care and rank at the very bottom of the "health score" list when compared to other first world nations. We are still quite sick and unhealthy.
If you were spend your days perusing Facebook and Instagram, you might believe the opposite of what I just told you. Yoga bodies! Vegans! Keto! Crossfit! Paleo! Macros! BBG! Look at all of the healthy people doing all of the healthy things.
Instead of arguing about why our diet is best and why everyone else is an uneducated boob, why don't we look to the similarities among popular diets?
I often mutter to myself Ecclesiates 1:9- "There is nothing new under the sun". Nothing, people. I promise you. Keto is not new. Paleo is not new. Veganism is not new. We now just have the technological power to make dogma out of lifestyle choices. Do you really identify yourself as a vegan or a crossfitter? Why not a mother? A wife? A child of the Most High God?
Let's visit a few of the trendy diets of the day, shall we?
Paleo dieters abstain from anything that our paleolithic ancestors could not have eaten- bread, dairy, grains. Of course, this is theoretical because we have no idea what our paleo ancestors actually ate. We can make educated guesses. Your guess depends on your view of history. Maybe you are an Old Earth Creationist. Maybe you are a New Earth Creationist. Maybe you are an Evolutionist. (I fall in the New Earth Creationist camp, but that is just an educated guess after visiting the Creation Museum in Indianapolis and seeing the science laid out for me.) The point is, we have no idea what people ate many, many, many moons ago.
Paleo dieters are supposed to stick to lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I read the original book 16 years ago. It made sense. Now, some of Paleo has evolved into Paleo-like foods: sweets and breads and cakes and such. I am pretty sure our Paleo ancestors did not eat paleo molten lava chocolate cake with coconut whipped cream. However, those committed to healthy paleo are probably flourishing.
Some people love paleo.
Some people hate paleo.
Paleo wins: lean meats, fruits, and vegetables, being aware of what you are eating.
Vegans eat plants. They abstain from animal products for moral or physical reasons. Some cannot physically tolerate meat. Some cannot handle the way animals are treated during the course of their short lives, or how they are slaughtered. Some vegans eschew animal products, like honey and leather. Some don't.
Vegan dieters are supposed to stick to plants and plant products, including good fats like olive oil and coconut oil. I have read much literature about the vegan diet. It makes sense. But some of veganism has evolved into vegan-like foods: fake meat and sugar and calorie bombs. These probably aren't the healthiest ways to fuel your body. But those committed to healthy veganism are probably fairly lively.
Some people love veganism.
Some people hate veganism.
Vegan wins: healthy monounsaturated fats, fruits and vegetables, being aware of what you are eating.
The ketogenic diet involves eating mostly animal fat. You keep your carb macros to 20 grams or less. You eat a moderate amount of protein, and a liberal amount of fat. The general ratios are 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbs. Keto dieters try to stick to meat, fat, and leafy green vegetables. Mainstream dieters try keto for fat loss, triglyceride and blood sugar control, and increased brain power. I've read the literature and it makes sense. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But some of keto has evolved into keto-like foods: fat bombs, exogenous ketones, and keto protein bars. This stuff comes from a wrapper and is pretty highly processed.
For people obsessed with health, pseudo-keto can be pretty unhealthy. But many true keto dieters are probably thriving.
Some people love keto.
Some people hate keto.
Keto wins: healthy whole fats, leafy green vegetables, moderate animal protein, being aware of what you are eating.
Counting your macronutrients has become popular again recently. Macronutrients are simply fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Obsessively tracking them is a bore, but it works really well for some people. I've paid for a program and it made sense. Macros dieters generally focus on lean protein, and no food is really off limits. If your macro counter has you at 200gm protein/ 175gm carbohydrate/ 70gm fat for the day, you could eat lunch at McDonald's every day if you wanted. If it fits your macros. People say this gives them diet freedom. The diet is helpful for a lot of women coming out of a low carb world. They learn that their body needs carbohydrates, and this is freeing for many of them. People count macros to lean out and to gain muscle. But they have to count every single gram of food they eat. I'm bored already.
For people who thrive on structure, order, and a wide variety of foods, counting macros works great. Also, fruits and vegetables are sometimes counted as "free macro" foods- yay! But most of macro counting has evolved into macro-like food products; meaning, if a fake food has a sufficient amount of carbs/ fat/ protein, you can eat it every day. Like boxed fake egg whites, or highly processed bars, or soy isolate. Also boring.
Some people love macros.
Some people hate macros.
Macro wins: varied diet, fruits and vegetables, sufficient protein, being aware of what you are eating.
We could continue breaking diets down, but I think you get the idea. Lots are diets are out there. And lots of diets work. They work for different people at different times. Instead of looking at the differences, why don't we look at the similarities?
- Healthy Fats
- Varied Diet
- Being Aware of What You are Eating
So maybe, you could let go of some of your diet dogma and just focus on the things that all popular diets have in common. I find life is happier, and easier, for myself and my clients when we focus on these things. What things are different about these diets compared to the Standard American Diet?
- Vegetable Oils
- Food that Comes in a Bag, Box, or Wrapper
- Eating without Thought or Intent
I find that my clients lose weight, balance hormones, and look and feel healthier when they stress less. Particularly about food. Maybe just think of food as fuel, and not good or bad. Think of what makes you feel healthy, and vital, and sexy, and strong. Sometimes I feel healthy and vital and sexy and strong when I am eating steak. Sometimes I feel healthy and vital and sexy and strong when I am eating dark chocolate, or bacon, or an apple, or carrots, or salmon. Fill in this blank for yourself, and eat more of that.
Sometimes I feel less vital, more bloated, and weaker when I eat cheesecake, or pizza, or movie theater buttered popcorn. That food isn't bad. I just don't feel good eating it. Fill in this blank for yourself, and eat less of that.
Because there is no perfect diet. There is just food. Eat more of it, and of less quality, and you will gain weight and become hormonally imbalanced. Eat proper amounts of it, and of higher quality, and you will keep a normal weight and veer back toward hormonal balance. Sometimes that takes a long time, if your metabolism has been compromised by dieting for years. If you have no idea where to start, feel free to contact me. I can guide you through that process.
Or you can just plan to eat intuitively for your next few meals.
- Chew your food until is is nearly liquid.
Don't wolf it down. It's bad for digestion and satiety.
- Take smaller bites.
Maybe key lime pie makes you feel healthy and vital and sexy and strong. Can you
eat it in 20 bites instead of 10?
- Stop eating when you are almost full.
How many times have you gotten up from the table and regretted those last five
bites? Leave them on your plate today and see how you feel afterward.
Like paleo, vegan, keto, and macros, eating intuitively takes time and practice. It may take you a few days or weeks to get the hang of it, and that is okay. Try it and let me know what you think.