In my previous post I spoke about how dieting does not work long term. I talked about wanting to make a lifestyle change and eating what makes you feel good.
In doing so, you may find that you notice certain foods or food groups cause you to have stomach pain, bloat, feel lethargic and so on. If that is the case you may want to look more into eliminating these foods from you diet. This is something that takes the dedication towards making a healthy lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Do not let the haters talk you out of experimenting with different food choices either, again everyone's gut is unique and it is all about how you feel and what works for you.
Lets start the most controversial-The Ketogenic Diet
(you can lump most low-carb diets and loosely put paleo here)
1) Hakuna Ma-Keto
It means no worries for the rest of your days. You eat all the cheese and bacon you want, and magically you are down three pant sizes. Oh but wait, isn't it bad for you? Doesn't it make you feel like crap, starves you body and can cause adrenal fatigue...I know I don't need extra fatigue!!
The ketogenic diet, (or most low carb diets) if done correctly, can have amazing benefits.
If you have type II diabetes, are overweight to where back, gastric, knee or hip surgery is on the table, suffer from certain types of seizures, have PCOS or a candida overgrowth in your gut, keto could be right for you.
Again this is about making a lifestyle change, not doing a fad diet to drop a couple pounds before an event.
Research has shown that by following a "plant based" keto diet, blood pressure can be reduced, sugar levels can stabilize to a healthy range, it can prevent some types of seizures, cause weight loss which may prevent the need of surgeries related to obesity, help with the symptoms of PCOS and can reduce candida gut overgrowth and eliminate many of the symptoms.
Keto does tend to make people feel yucky and cloudy the first few weeks mostly due to the detoxification of sugars from your body. Just as if you stop smoking cigarettes, drinking caffeine or eating meat, you will not feel so great the first few weeks. Give your body a chance to regulate before you jump to the conclusion that it isn't going to work for you. After that first phase, you should start to notice some improvement. Check in with yourself often and it may even be a good idea to log how you feel.
Again no change will work with complete and utter deprivation. Eat the occasional apple when you crave it or carrots or whatever is on the "high carb list"; but try to avoid binge-ing a whole cake or tub of ice cream. If you need something sweet look for a healthier alternative (Stevia for example is a natural alternative sweetener to sugar and does not have the side effects that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners have) and can be substituted in many desserts. Also you can occasionally splurge on sugar free candy-but beware of sugar alcohols as they are still sugars, they only metabolize slower as to not spike insulin and blood sugar.
The big take home here is if you want to try keto, go for it! Start eating more vegetables in place of starches and carbohydrates and eat little to no sugar. Eat more fish and chicken than red meat or pork, cheese occasionally, avoid canola and vegetable oil, try avocado oil or olive oil instead. And again eat your vegetables!
Try it for a month or two, see how you feel. See how your body feels. If you are crabby, fatigued or are experiencing stomach issues, keto might not be right for you. And that's okay.
But like most things in life, if you don't try, how will you know?
2) Being VEGAN/VEGETARIAN is a big missed steak!
Oh the poor protein deprived veggians. Just wasting away to practically nothing, no energy, no muscle, soon to turn into dust.
Vegans/vegetarians seem to always get a bad wrap. Often being depicted as pretentious for their food choices and forced to answer everyone's questions about how they are able to get the proper nutrients eating leaves, like everyone suddenly acquired a PhD in nutrition.
Although it is true that vegan/vegetarian diets can lack in some essential nutrients like vitamin B12, folate and Omega-3's (these can be found in some alternative vegan foods life fermented foods and tofu, eggs and dairy if vegetarian, or can be supplemented appropriately if needed); if you suffer from hypertension, type II diabetes or high cholesterol a plant based diet might be the choice for you.
As an added bonus, it is good for out planet!
(Soap Box Warning) Loving all the animals aside, and the fact that pigs and cows are comparably as smart as dogs. The amount of water used and the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from meat production is insane. Like a whole freaking lot. We have been using and abusing our planet and if we do not make some conscious changes very soon what will be left for our children and grandchildren is very bleak. I am not vegan, but in my house we do vegan/vegetarian meals at least twice a week. We are not perfect, but in my opinion something is better than nothing and every little bit counts. (Moving on...)
Particularly, vegans also have a 12% lower rate in cancer than meat eaters overall. Even higher numbers have been reported with blood cancers (such as leukemia), stomach/ intestinal cancers and female-specific cancers.
Diets high in meat (especially red and processed meat) also can change our gut biology in a negative and have the potential to cause certain digestive problems over time such as gallstones, constipation and excess gas.
If you are thinking of veganism or vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice, once again try it out and see how you feel. Make sure you are getting proper fuel for your body and remember you most likely won't feel your best the first few weeks. Give your body time to adapt before jumping ship.
3) Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting like the others has both its benefits and precautions. This is to most a very restrictive option and therefore poses the risk of being easily derailed once the feelings of hunger set in. Some of us also experience what I call "hAnger" instead, and for those this is not a viable option, at least not for the sake of those around us.
Intermittent fasting consists of limiting food intake to a certain window each day. There are many ideas regarding time frame, for example the 16/8 method. You fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8 hour window based upon your schedule. Some would regard this as some self-inflicted form of torture, but there are many heath benefits if you can (empty) stomach it.
Research is relatively light, however one study has shown an improvement in cellular repair. Meaning your body can repair damaged cells and remove waste at a more effective rate. Other studies have suggested that it can reduce the body's inflammatory response, change gene expression, can reduce insulin resistance, lower blood sugar levels and decrease high blood pressure.
For me personally this it my favorite of the one's listed here. It seems very restrictive but in my case it makes the day much easier. No meal prepping for the week, no waking up early packing lunches, no temptation to eat out. I don't think about food until I get home at the end of the work day and I cook a healthy dinner (at least the majority of the time). I also don't feel the need to keep snacks in the house, if its a snack and its there, I will eat it. And I can still have my coffee! It feels easy to me and my stomach issues are almost non-existent and I feel energetic. On the weekends I take a modified approach and usually eat lunch and dinner, but I have never been a breakfast person anyway. This is what works for me. I feel better and it feels easy. And isn't that the key?
Again, this is what works best for me, at least for right now. I have tried keto, I have been vegan for 6+ months, I have juiced, detoxed and have taken all types of supplements to help with fatigue, digestive issues and more. They key is about what works for you, your health and you lifestyle and its taken me a long time to get here.
Also keep in mind that just because you aren't eating as frequently, doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want. A diet rich in healthy foods, whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables is still a must. If you will feel so famished that you'll smash mountain of unhealthy food, this isn't for you.
This diet is not ideal for those who have struggled with eating disorders as it can be too restrictive and triggering of old habits, either starvation or binge eating. It should also not be done if you are pregnant or nursing or need to take certain medications that require food. If you are an athlete and need a higher caloric intake you may not be able to meet your nutritional needs in the "eating window". And above all else if you notice that you are getting frequent headaches, feel faint, nauseous or dizzy please eat. If you feel hungry, eat!
The Big Take Home!
Don't let anyone who does not have some sort of medical or nutritional degree tell you what to eat, I don't care what aunt Karen said on Facebook. Stay away from fad diets, magic shakes or weight loss pills. Do not seek instant gratification or a quick fix. I am sorry, but it just won't last.
Pay attention to how your food makes you feel.
Healthy looks different for everyone and we all deserve to feel the very best in our own skin. You only get to be the one you, right now, in this moment. Choose to take care of yourself from the inside and out.
Eat a variety of foods. Try new things. Limit sugar intake and eat more vegetables. Drink your water. Above all else eat what makes your body feel good!