The "Perfect Diet"

Considering the wide array of diet books out there, I’m going to make an educated guess that I’m not the only one who has ever been on the quest for the “perfect diet.” FYI, when I say “diet” I mean a way of eating that I can stick with for a lifetime, not just a couple of weeks.

Although I’ve never had a ton of fat to lose, I’ve always had body composition goals, with a toned stomach being my biggest motivator to find the diet that all those famous fitness models got their 6-pack abs from. I’ve spent money on e-books promising the “perfect” ketogenic diet, “personalized” diet plans with an extremely restrictive macronutrient ratio, and have spent countless hours reading every article, book, and blog post on what people claim to be the “perfect” way of eating.

We’ve heard it time and time again: "80% diet, 20% exercise."

I definitely agree to a certain extent, although I wouldn’t have my same muscular physique without the workout regimen I stick to daily. Nonetheless, the “80/20” lifestyle is easier said than done.

Working out can be fun, but eating that bland chicken, sweet potato and broccoli diet all the fitness competitors promote is anything but fun. For me, eating enough to power through my workouts is important. If I can’t get through a workout without feeling extremely weak or like I may pass out, then I’m not properly fueling my body for my lifestyle.

This brings me to my first major point:

Every body is different.

You might not want to believe it, but the reality is your body does not operate the same way as your favorite Instagram fitness model’s body does, and you probably don’t have the same exercise routine as her or him, either. Same with Dr. Oz, Cameron Diaz, or Khloe Kardashian.

The next time you read a headline like “How Cameron Diaz Keeps Her Rock Hard Abs at 40,” take it with a grain of salt. Just because her high-fat, low-carb, pescatarian diet has worked for her does NOT mean it will work for you or me.

When Dr. Oz talks about how beneficial green coffee bean extract is for weight loss, do your research before blindly believing what some celebrity doctor says and poppin’ coffee bean pills. Not everyone metabolizes caffeine at the same rate. Those, like myself, who are slow caffeine metabolizers, can experience overdose symptoms (jitters, rapid heart rate, insomnia) from as low as 100 mg of caffeine, meaning most brands’ recommended dose of green coffee bean extract really would not benefit someone with a slow caffeine metabolism.

With this in mind...

Don’t believe everything you hear.

As I just described above, you have no business pretending your body operates the same way as a celebrity’s does, or following their entire diet regimen down to what time of day they stop eating just because Health magazine says that’s how they stay so skinny. You also have no business blindly trusting the “latest nutrition finding” headline you see.

Isn’t it frustrating that nutrition experts always seem to be contradicting each other? One second the “experts” swear low-fat is the way to go for weight loss and your health, the next second it’s low-carb. This is why people are still deathly afraid of fat and carbs, which is absolutely absurd.

Some people will thrive on a low-carb diet. Some people will thrive on a low-fat diet. Either way, to completely cut out an essential macronutrient from your diet is not the answer and could be detrimental to your health.

Ever wonder why there’s so much confusion and disagreement about nutrition in the first place? It’s because there is no “one” way of eating that works for everyone! How will you ever know what your body personally thrives on unless you experiment, stay in tune to your body, and block out all the outside noise of these “experts”?

My solution? Develop awareness and don’t be afraid to try new things.

With the constant stimulation and communication via smartphones, laptops, and television, it seems like awareness is harder to come by nowadays. It is something we have the ability to practice throughout our daily lives, including during meals, and awareness can be extremely important and helpful when figuring out the “perfect diet” for you.

Keeping a food journal for a while is a great way to practice that awareness. Let’s say you’re trying out a meatless diet for the next 2 weeks, and keep a food journal of exactly what you ate, what time you ate, what you were doing while you ate, along with any digestion issues or concerns after meals. By doing this, you can figure out what foods your body thrives on, has an intolerance to, is okay with in moderation, etc.

While on this journey, don’t be afraid to try out new ways of eating. Make it a fun experiment towards optimum nutrition for your body! You can try out 3 big meals a day, 6 small meals a day, track macros and play around with the ratios, try eating intuitively, try a plant-based food plan, a blood-type plan, grain-free, paleo, pescatarian.* The options are endless and your body is ever-changing!

The important thing to remember in all of this is, no matter the individual differences between humans, we all were created to eat REAL food. 

Notice I didn’t say, “really good processed food”? I actually believe most real, whole foods and meals are much better tasting than any packaged or premade meal you can buy at the store. To me, if you’re seriously going to try to argue that Mrs. Calendar’s lasagna is better than mom’s homemade lasagna, either your taste buds are seriously screwed up or your mom just isn’t a very good cook.

When embarking on your journey to find the “perfect diet” for you, just keep in mind that the human body thrives off of foods in its most natural state such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Organic, whole, unsweetened and pasture-raised dairy products
  • 100% whole-wheat and whole-grain products
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Local meats
  • Natural sweeteners
  • Organic/raw seeds and nuts

Here’s another tip:

If you buy a prepackaged food with an ingredient list longer than this sentence, you’re not buying REAL food.

Hence, you are not fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to operate as its best self. I, personally, am still on this journey. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, my body surprises me with another type of food it doesn’t really like to digest properly, or I’ll notice my lack of energy when eating this certain food. It’s totally worth it though, and I bet next time you’re checking out at the grocery store and come across a headline that reads something about a star’s “diet for their perfect abs” you’ll catch yourself rolling your eyes and keeping the food you picked out already in the cart.

Be patient, be your own scientist, and discover a world of vibrancy, color, and satisfaction through food!

*Consult with your physician when considering changing your personal food plan. 

How do you use awareness in your eating habits?
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© Copyright Whatismyhealth, April 30th, 2017