I feel like I have been lied to for the last 40 years. If you follow my blog, you know my diet life has been a crazy roller coaster. I have purchased, downloaded and followed so many diet and workout plans I would hate to venture how much money I have spent following crazy dead ends. Some worked for a few months, some longer, but in the end, they all failed me.
Here are some of the lies I have been told and followed:
- “Follow a balanced low-fat diet.” (What does this even mean? What is balanced?)
- “You need whole grains for B vitamins and fiber.” (What about broccoli??)
- “It is unhealthy to eliminate an entire food group.” (Are grains a food group?)
- “Everything in moderation.” (doughnuts? In moderation?)
So by my little notes in the parentheses behind each of these you can see that each of these lies has a rebuttal. PLUS, new, more current research, shows that these statements simply do not hold water. Marketing is an amazing thing. I was just watching TV and listening to an ad that touted “200 foods now zero points,” and another “lose your first ten pounds on us”. It makes me sad to know that people fall for these marketing tactics out of frustration and guilt. Some of these plans even ask you to “sign up” and be a “coach” to get your friends on board. Once this happens, it can be hard to admit that a program isn’t working for you.
When the 1100 calories a day they allot you stalls your weight loss (due to a slowed metabolism as it tries to keep you alive!), or you start to feel unhealthy due to a lack of nutrients, it is hard to admit failure, so you may struggle on with it. I know that I did this for 10 years!! Less food and more working out, just to stay at the weight where I was!
How do these diet plans stack up in the long run? Well, research shows NOT WELL, yet they continue to update their plans and market like crazy to an unsuspecting and desperate public. There have been very few long term studies on the effectiveness of commercially available diet plans or low calorie/low fat plans. Most studies consider long term as a year from when the diet was started. Personally, I would really like to see how people are doing five, ten and fifteen years from the start of a plan to truly know effectiveness.
So where has all of this crazy diet following led me? Well, I finally threw up my hands and said “no more”. I can’t stomach another boxed 100 calorie meal. I can no longer starve myself on an 1100 calorie a day plan, while smiling and thanking people who tell me how wonderful I look. The light for me was my hair falling out, and sheer exhaustion most of the time. I just needed to find a better way. I can no longer commit two hours per day to a gym, track or workout video. I decided to take my life back.
First, I spent a couple of weeks doing a “food log”, but not in the traditional sense. I simply wrote down what I ate, how I felt when I ate it, and how it made me feel physically and emotionally after I ate it. I started to see some clear patterns. If I ate oatmeal for breakfast, I was famished within an hour or two, where if I ate scrambled eggs with spinach I was full for hours. Any kind of grain gave me a crazy pain on the left side of my stomach and a sandwich for lunch left me groggy and nappish around 2pm. But a salad with lots of fresh veggies, a good full-fat dressing and an organic grass-fed protein kept me full and alert all afternoon!
So where did this diet log lead me? It led me to learning to eat in a more intuitive way. It led me to removing foods that led to headaches, stomach issues and fatigue. It let my body naturally let go of 40 pounds!! It ultimately led me to eliminating a food group. Grains and gluten did not agree with my system, while dairy and caffeine have no negative effects at all. Your conclusions may be the absolute polar opposite! Your results may lead you to eliminate caffeine and dairy, while keeping in oats and quinoa. We can’t know until you do the journal.
There are a couple of basic tenets no matter which way you end up eating:
- EAT WHOLE FOODS IN THEIR NATURAL STATE ONLY- I cannot stress this one enough. There is not one human body ever made that NEEDS zero calorie, chemically laden salad dressing. NOT ONE! I just saw a post on Facebook recently for a “healthy” summer salad, that included this zero calorie dressing. It was for a taco type salad, and every other ingredient in it was amazing and healthy. How would I change up this salad to be a whole foods salad? All the veggies, with taco seasonings to taste (cumin, chili powder, garlic, onion, salt and pepper) mixed into olive oil or full-fat sour cream. You could also make a full fat ranch dressing made with whole ingredients and spices!
- IF IT COMES IN A BOX, CAN OR IS SHELF STABLE YOU PROBABLY DON’T NEED IT- There are few exceptions here. We use a lot of canned tomatoes. I buy only organic, and make sure they are in a BPA free can. We also use boxed organic bone broth if I haven’t had time to make my own. We buy whey protein and egg-white protein to put into our morning smoothies. Beyond these several things, our cabinets don’t hold much.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE- Recipes don’t need to have 30 ingredients and take all day to make. Keeping recipes to 5 ingredients or less, cooking your proteins in bulk and purchasing your salad greens and other veggies already cut up is an easy way to save time and energy in your kitchen. You don’t need to be a master chef to steam some veggies and bake some chicken!
- BUILD A LIBRARY OF SPICES- We purchase our spices from our local warehouse store that sells them bulk. You can use baby food jars or small mason jars, purchase only what you need and start experimenting with adding spices to your food. If you are interested in some common spice combos, I encourage you to message me to get on the list for my next “SIMPLE COOKING” online course!
This way of eating saves TONS of money, as those processed foods and diet plans can be crazy expensive. Learning to eat in this intuitive way will help you to feel full and to identify the foods your body doesn’t process well. There are always those days when, for whatever reason (a party at work or dinner with your grandkids) that you eat something that you know won’t sit well in your system. Once you have done the eating journal, you can clearly identify those things and KNOW that if you eat them, you may not feel good. What I have discovered, is that I eat less and less of those things as I have clearly identified the “good feeling” and know that the taste of that doughnut will not outweigh the horrible feeling in my body afterwards.
So what about those times when you have to eat out? Well, I have found simple ways to order in almost any restaurant! Most places are willing to change out fries for a salad. I eliminate the bun and have them put my burger or chicken on a bed of lettuce. Mexican is easy! Since I don’t do grains, I have them switch out the beans and rice for more salad with avocado or guacamole. If your food log leads you to a vegetarian way of eating, most restaurants have quite a few choices, so it really comes down to being willing to ask for something that isn’t on the menu.
So what is my goal in telling you all of this??? I want to help you find your intuitive way of eating, and then I want you to NOT NEED ME ANYMORE!! I want you to create a lifelong way to let your body find its natural weight and healthy place. Then I want you to simply follow me for new yoga videos, courses, fun products and recipes! I want to work with you ONE-ON-ONE for a WHILE, and then LET YOU FLY ON YOUR OWN!! Commercial diet plans are created to keep you a customer for life. I want you to FOLLOW me for life, but to not need coaching forever. If you are ready to join me, email me at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form on the website! I will be in touch to set up a short discovery session with you and determine the best way for us to work together to help you meet LONG TERM health goals, not just a short term fix!
Have a great day!!