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The big New Year’s "diet" post!

29 Dec

Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor or a dietician. If you need medical advice, please consult with a doc or RD.

With 2012 about to arrive in a few days, odds are that you are probably thinking about going on some kind of diet. First of all – I hate the word “diet”. It’s misused in my opinion. “Diet” is what you eat daily. It’s what goes in your body daily. That said, what should your diet look like as of January 1, 2012?

-Eat lean proteins, a variety of vegetables, some fruits, good fats – all from whole food sources (more on that later).
-Avoid processed and/or refined foods and other toxins.
-Drink water and lots of it.

It’s that simple…or is it?

The above is a good starting guideline. Of course, most people seeking to “diet” want an exact plan – can I eat this? what about that? how much do I eat? how do I know if I’m eating too much? It’s best not to over-think this stuff. TAKE HOME MESSAGE: THERE IS NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL “MODEL DIET”! Sorry to disappoint.

This is where “it’s not that simple” comes in.

We are all pretty unique. You can follow some general guidelines and they may work very well for you, but I will almost guarantee there will be a plateau. This is when you start to discover what does and does not work for you. THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL OR DIET – IT TAKES TIME AND EFFORT TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS. Even most who have gastric bypass surgery gain at least some of the weight back. Don’t ride the fad diet rollercoaster. I get it, you want to be thinner, more cut, look better naked – we all do. But don’t you also want to be healthy inside? Being healthy inside requires a healthy lifestyle (part of which is having a healthy diet).

So, what can sabotage a healthy diet besides bad friends, dessert and that little devil on your shoulder? Autoimmune diseases, medications, food allergies, digestive issues…the list goes on. Don’t give up hope! Understand that you have your own unique issues to work through. Now may be the time to see the doc and get a little blood work. Did you know that too much Omega-6 in our diets can cause inflammation, this wrecking “diet” efforts? It’s said that a great number of us has some form of gluten intolerance. What if eliminating gluten was all you needed to do to cross the plateau? It’s well-known with women that certain forms of birth control cause weight gain and water retention. What if crossing the plateau was as simple as changing forms of birth control? Do you really need milk if you are lactose intolerant? Are you active or sedentary? You’ll have different needs depending on your answers. Everything we ingest and do has an effect in and on our bodies. If you haven’t noticed, the systems in our body do not work independently from each other. You want to feel good (and look good), don’t you? And for the last time, please get an unrealistic image out Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie out of your head – It does nothing but sabotage your efforts! Be the best YOU can be!

Back to whole foods, and not the store that takes your entire paycheck each week. Whole foods are non-processed from nature edible items. Is a Twinkie a whole food? Ummm, no. What’s even in those?!?! How about canned green beans preserved in sodium? Nope, not that either. Neither are the cups of yogurt with fruit in the bottom. Neither are Egg Beaters. Vegetables and fruits from the produce department, cuts of meat from the butcher, eggs, raw PLAIN nuts…you get the picture. Twinkies, not whole food, head of fresh broccoli, whole food. I suggest shopping with a local farmer or farmer’s market for these items. You’ll get the freshest whole foods available. Extra bonus if you care about the environment – eating local is far more eco-friendly. You should only be eating foods that are in season. P.S. – local farmers often jar extra crop like tomatoes to be used in the off-season. Extra, extra bonus – you are giving back to the local economy by putting money in that farmer’s pocket, rather than the big businesses that supply grocery stores with sub-optimal foods and with home offices in BFE. Extra, extra, extra bonus – you aren’t at risk for the variety of fun and potentially life-threatening bacteria that end up in mass-produced foods. Just Google “2011 food recalls” and see the lists that come up. This stuff is sitting on our grocery store shelves!

You can take all the knowledge above and stop there if you want, or read on for more fun blabbering…

This is how I eat: I eat only local whole foods. I follow what some would call a lacto-Paleo diet. Fresh veggies and fruits (esp. leafy greens – my favorite!), grass-fed, no hormone meats and dairy (I try to use dairy sparingly due to it’s tendency to produce an inflammatory response), raw nuts with nothing on them, water, coffee, tea, some alcohol (mostly red wine), eggs. I don’t eat anything refined or considered a processed food. I make my own energy bars (it’s pretty easy to be honest). I do not eat wheat or other grains (grains are a touchy subject, but most are genetically modified and processed to get in their store-bought form. Grains also can elicit some bad digestive issues and being someone with a history of digestive problems, I want to avoid feeling bad. In addition to other digestive issues, I was extremely hypoglycemic and I no longer struggle with that, despite having to go without food for long times on occasion). Sparingly, I use 72% or higher dark chocolate in recipes, as well as coconut milk and flour. I don’t measure my portions. I NEVER “cheat”…if someone is “cheating” on their diet, then they aren’t using the word diet right in my opinion. I don’t feel deprived of anything – I didn’t have a Christmas cookie or any other dessert this year, nor did I crave all of the above. I love cooking. It can be super easy – steam some veggies and grill a piece of chicken, or it can be complicated gourmet cooking that keeps me in the kitchen for hours. I don’t like to eat out much because I find the chef at home is far better than most in restaurants! 😉 I feel great and look great eating this way. This has been a culmination of baby steps and lots of tweaks to my diet. No, I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with my weight, but even I have seen some pleasant body composition changes. I believe eliminating wheat/grains and beans have had the most effect on me. I don’t get gassy and I don’t retain water – at all. I have some recent blood work to show that this dietary lifestyle is working good for me.

The same diet probably won’t have the exact same effects on you. The point is to use the starting point way above (that list of what to eat), make it your lifestyle and if you still aren’t where you need/want to be health-wise, look at other changes you can make.

It’s THAT simple!