Diet. Yuck! That word just makes me cringe! What does it even mean? I just looked up the definition and this is what I found… “n: a special course of food of which one restricts oneself” or my favorite “v: restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight“. WHAAAAAT?!?! When I hear the word “diet”, I think of all of the things I CAN’T eat or SHOULDN’T eat. I see the restrictions. That immediately puts a bad taste in my mouth, pun intended. That’s what our food obsessed, body image obsessed world has done with the word diet and continues to do. Now how about this definition “n: the kind of foods a person, animal or community habitually eats.” That’s a bit better, eh?
30 years ago, we heard “I’m eating a low-fat diet to lose weight”. 20 years ago, it was, “The Mediterranean Diet is the healthiest way to eat for heart health.” 5 or 6 years ago it was, “I eat the Paleo Diet, like my ancestors”. Now it’s, “The Ketogenic Diet is best for ridding my body of inflammation.” I know I’m missing so many others in there… Zone, AIP, Vegetarian, Vegan, and even Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig diets for god’s sake! The word “diet” implies a specific way of eating, or more so, NOT eating.
I am not here to knock down any of these said “diets”. In fact, I think that a few of them are really, really good for the purpose they serve. However, I would argue that the majority of people choose a diet for body composition purposes. There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean who doesn’t want to look good naked? I do! And who am I to tell you what your goals should be? But, the problem lies in that the reason people are choosing to eat a certain way is not geared toward a long-term goal. Not a life-style change, but more of a temporary endeavor to get to a certain point. Once that point is reached, people revert to old habits and the cycle starts all over again. That, to me, is a diet… and why the most popular diet is so successful… “the yo-yo diet”.
I started eating Paleo in 2010 because I was influenced by people in my life who truly believed it was the “healthiest” way to eat. By getting rid of certain things in my nutritional intake, I was going to reduce my systemic inflammation, heal my gut and improve my performance. I personally thought it was a crock, but decided to try it for professional reasons. As a personal trainer and health coach, I should at least be able to relate and give advice to clients who wanted to try this new “fad diet”. Right? Turns out it worked for me. After the carb cravings subsided, I felt better (I didn’t even know I felt bad), I had more energy and all of a sudden, my chronic stomach aches were gone. I figured out I have a gluten intolerance! However, I was always the person making custom orders at restaurants. I offended family by turning down their food. I felt guilty if I ever ate anything non-paleo. EEK! Whoop there it is… the key word in dieting… “guilt”.
Diets, for most people, create this feeling of guilt when not fully compliant. I have been in this industry for almost 15 years and I see it over and over again. Hell, I’ve experienced it myself over and over again. When we start feeling guilty, then we create a bad relationship with food and often a bad relationship with ourselves. Rather than feeling guilty about eating something that’s “bad” for us, we should feel motivated to eat food that’s “good” for us. Read that last sentence again.. or how about I write it for you! Rather than feeling guilty about eating something “bad” for us, we should feel motivated to eat food that’s “good” for us. Now, I put those words in quotes because I don’t believe there are bad and good foods. There is just food and non-food. And that is where I believe the word “diet” leaves and instead it’s about just eating real food!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one feels better eating sugar filled, processed crap than eating fresh produce, quality protein and healthy fat. If you disagree, then go dive into those Little Debbies! I’m not offended. But, really, our bodies run better when we feed them real, nutrient dense foods.
Now, with all of this said, some “diets” do have a place. They teach us what our body does well or not-so-well with. Whether that’s the type of food or the amount of food or the timing of food. A “good diet” in my opinion suggest an elimination of foods that can wreak havoc on the body and then slow reintroduction to see how your individual body reacts. Some people can handle dairy. Some people can handle gluten. Some people can handle lentils. Some people can handle eggs. And some people can’t. You won’t know unless you take them out and then slowly and strategically bring them back in.
I do believe that the Paleo Diet is the best diet for this trial process and I will continue to tell people to start for a month of eliminating sugar, dairy, grains (especially ones with gluten) and legumes. After talking about the food you want to remove, the focus then becomes on the hundreds of other things you can have and accessing how your body reacts.
I’m not saying if you’re strict Paleo or Keto that you’re doing your body a disservice. Your journey is your journey and mine is mine. I am at a place right now where I know what my body can do well with and without. I am at a place where I am comfortable with my body composition (even though it’s not what it used to be). I am at a place where my performance is adequate for where I am in my life. I am at a place where I feel good and I have a good relationship with food and I want the same for you.
If you are interested in coached guidance with your nutrition or if you just are at a rough spot with your relationship with food and want my advice, please email me at email@example.com
“Life is better when you’re laughing!”
Exercise of the Week:
Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
I literally don’t remember the last time I baked cookies, but the weather here in Norcal is finally cooling off so I could turn on my oven. Just threw these lil guys together this last week with “scraps” I had in the house. They were delicious and so easy!
- 1/4 cup grass fed butter (kerrygold) *this stuff is a staple in my house
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup almond butter
- chocolate chips (I just threw a bunch in, but didn’t measure)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine butter, baking powder, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl and mix together.
- Add almond butter and mix.
- Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
- Place 2 table spoons of dough onto greased cookie sheet.
- Bake 10-12 minutes.