The unfortunate truth is that there is no one "perfect" diet. There is no single diet that works for every person; rather elements of different protocols might resonate with different people.
I am not saying YOUR ideal eating "mix" doesn't exist, but rather that there are pros and cons to every nutrition regimen. The trick is to create a plan that works for you — one that is individualized to your genetics, age, gender, health history, goals, and life realities.
Purpose of this series
To create your "mix" you have to understand basic nutritional principles, as well as the pros and cons of different eating regimens; you need the skills to parse out the nutritional elements and eating strategies that will work for you. Over my next few blogs I will help you do just that; I will provide the knowledge you need to put together your unique mix. Each blog will highlight one or more nutritional approaches.
Read through each blog — digest — and figure out the elements of each approach that work for you. Start to make connections. Parse out the elements that the programs share — such as mindfulness and an emphasis on food quality. Most regimens are more similar than you would think. Use the information to establish your "nutritional pillars" and unique nutrition mix.
If you are always falling off this same horse, learn from it.
The mirage of the "perfect" diet — the diet that will make you miraculously and instantaneously happy and thin — just sets us all up to be disheartened and discouraged. There is no such thing as the "perfect" anything. Perfect does not exist and the act of searching for perfection is the enemy of just getting crap done!
So ... stop searching for the "perfect" diet and instead create an eating plan that works for YOU!
Two thoughts before we start
First, before you start creating your plan, ask yourself, "What eating strategies have I used in the past and where have these strategies gotten me?" So many of us become married to falling on and off the same health horse. We adopt a diet, lose weight, fall off the horse, and gain the weight back. Then we start the same process again. If you are always falling off this same horse, learn from it. Just because you have always done something doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. If a strategy I outline resonates with you because that is what you have "always done," note that it might actually be the worst strategy to adopt. We all have our unique flavour of self-sabotage. Ask yourself, "Self, how do I self-sabotage?"
Aim to be curious about what regimens and strategies are available. If you have never tried a particular strategy, now might be the time to start. "Mind the gap" between who you are now (and thus the choices you have always made) and who you want your future self to be. When you find yourself resistant to change, ask the question, "X might be a big part of me, but is X serving me?" I live by the rule that "certainty is the opposite of growth" — i.e., be blissfully expansive in your thoughts and actions.
Second, not only will everyone's "nutritional fit" be different from person to person, it will vary and evolve throughout each individual's life. Your "fit" will not look like your mom's, your favourite celebrity's, or mine — and it will also not look like your fit in the past or the future.
Our first approach: a higher protein diet
The common conception is that a high-protein diet is meat based. Now, usually when people go "higher protein" they do consume more meat, but not always. I want a main take-away from this blog to be that, as much as we try to categorize everything and water down eating styles and principles into "camps," most ways of eating and nutritional principles exist on a continuum or exist across camps. What is "higher protein" will be relative to what the person is currently eating. Plus, many vegetarians and vegans are trying to eat more protein — just of the non-meat variety.
If you choose to be a vegetarian for moral or religious regions but still want the benefits of eating more protein, by all means go for it. Minimize your nutritionally vapid "white" foods and up your high-quality proteins. So many vegetarians are what I call "carbetarian" - meaning they survive on mostly white carbs such as pasta and cheese, toast, rice, breads etc. Instead prioritize protein and nutritiously dense foods such as vegetables; work to become a "proteinatraian" or a "low-carbo-proteinetarian" (I just made those terms up. More on a vegetarian diet vs meat eating in the next blog in this series.)
The positives of prioritizing protein are myriad. I myself aim to always have a high-quality protein, healthy fat, and vegetables at every meal. Protein helps with tissue growth and repair, helps the body stay satiated longer, helps decrease sugar cravings (often when you are craving sugar you are simply lacking protein), and helps to minimize gorging on nutritionally vapid foods; when you eat nutritionally dense foods such as protein it is easier to stay away from "empty calories" such as breads and sugars.
One possible problem is digestion. Make sure you are staying hydrated and eating enough fiber (or supplementing with fiber) to ensure adequate digestion.
Intrigued? Keep your eyes peeled for my next few blogs. Next up - the pros and cons of being vegetarian vs vegan coupled with more information on high protein regimens. Additional future blogs will discuss regimens such as the macrobiotic style of eating, the ketogenic diet, as well as programs such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers.
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