I want a diet!!!
Often, clients come to me with the same question. Which diet is good for me ?
They ask about Paleo, carb free, low calorie, vegan, keto, 5-2, intermittent fasting… And really they ask for a magic pill. They want to keep on buying packaged food with a nice label on it that will make them feel better or they need to be part of a group, a trend. They often feel lost as they tried EVERYTHING… And my answer is always the same.
Don’t look at a diet. Avoid processed food, learn what particular produces are good for your own health, cook simple dishes and most important ENJOY what’s on your plate. Nutrition is a science, each individual will have a different genetic background, lifestyle, illness history and multiple factors that have to be taken into account in order to draw the suitable food plan they should follow to be at their healthiest. Trust a professional if you need to, instead of googling and reading dubious articles that could mislead you in another dark hall.
Sometime I will write them a menu that could look like my own version of one of this diet because that is what they should eat for a short period of time in order to break habits or to support body functions, but healthy food does not need a label !
What are the main controversial diet
It is basically based on our ancestor way of eating, back in the Paleolithic time, stating they were eating a diet rich in protein and low in carbohydrates. The good thing about doing so is that people avoid most of the processed food. Except that the food industry started making products with a paleo label… And processed food came back on your plate as well as a dangerous level of protein. It also looks like the already controversial Dukan diet which is basically a highly restricted carb free diet.
It is true that when eating protein your digestive system slows down and it could result to weight loss, it could only benefits a small amount of people as it is lacking essential nutrient and high protein intake could have its downfall as gout and kidney disease for example.
This trend is based on two different principles, religious or ecologist. When religious, as in India, it is important to stress that communities followed vegan diet for centuries and their body has the ability to absorb nutrients in a way other communities can not, they mastered recipes that are packed with needed nutrients, good spices and amazing flavours with only local produces. They also use many different grains and legumes and most of the time still eat dairy and honey, they practice yoga and meditation away from stress which cut their needs in nutrients essential for people living a busy and stressful life. As long as you are aware of the possible lack of nutrients and takes supplements, as long as you avoid the processed food dedicated to vegan (who wants to eat fake prawns or fake sausages when you never missed it while eating an homemade curry with yellow dhal and black rice), vegan could be a diet helpful for some medical conditions. Personally my need of iron is too high and having a nice red meat once a week is too much of a pleasure! It is more readily available than plant iron which needs to be processed by our body.
Ecologically… not sure having GMO soy fields in America was a good idea… or importing chia seeds from poor columbians who can not afford it anymore as well as cutting the natural cycle of life with us at the top of the pyramid.
After the high protein, carb free diet, people became crazy with high fat diet. They even suggested it could help diabetics… Like all nutrient deficient diet it will make you lose weight, not always in a healthy way.
Diabetics are divided into 2 sub groups (even 3 now), type 1 and 2. One can not create insulin and needs to have injections in order to control blood sugar level and the second became insulin resistant due to high sugar and HIGH FAT consumption. Not only fat will be converted into glucose for our brain feed but in the process some biochemicals compounds like acetoacetic acid and β-hydroxybutyrate, plus free radicals will also be created and other valuable nutrients will be used in the process… I know some type2 diabetics who followed this diet who almost died from ketoacidosis. When asked why did they follow this diet, they said they read an article stating it will lower their blood sugar… Knowing those clients, they craved for heavy sugary food and of course went for heavy fried food as their main issue is addiction to processed food taste.
It comes with the idea that if you starve yourself two days you can do whatever for five days. I have some friends doing it and it works for them. The huge difference with them is that they cook everyday meals, they will overindulge on nice wine and cheese, bread or pasta, meat and sometime a cake and will switch for two days of low calories meal, mostly vegetarian. Nothing wrong with that as long as people do not understand that over indulging is eating fast food, processed pastry, candies and chips for 5 days and switch to an apple and green tea for the 2 days. I just find it sad and too regimented as a principle. If you have a heavy dinner with friends or know that your lunch was to hard to digest it is easy to just cook a simple light meal to follow and give a rest to your system.
As for the 5 -2 it is for me common sense to give a rest to your body from time to time. Just by listening to yourself, when you feel a bit heavy or bloated, eating light simple food, easy to digest like a soup will be enough then. And if you have diner at 8 Pm and breakfast at 8 Am you have your 12 hours break…
The worse about diet
Most people will follow a diet because they read an article, usually based on presumption it will save you from this or that disease. Quite often it will even differ from the actual diet. Some Paleo turned vegan, some keto will only eat meat, fried food and dairy, some thinks green is just green vegetables (green means vegetables which can be misleading). Some will go for the new SUPER FOOD! And more, they will buy the processed products labeled to their new trend…
It is not only unhealthy but also ecologically wrong. Eating grains that traveled from the other side of the world, overeating one products because it is “good” for you, like avocado, can not only be wrong for you but also for the planet. Check the states of Mexican farmers and you may decrease your avocado consumption and wait to have it locally grown and in season.
We have been so formatted as consumers that we forgot we are before all human being with needs.
Fresh food, seasonal. A balanced mixed of all food groups. Time and space to eat and enjoy in order to allow our body to digest and use the nutrients.
Nobody is asking you to become a chef or a food expert !
Just be sensible. Eat a variety of fresh homemade food, do not use artificial flavouring, too much sugar or salt. Learn how to appreciate the taste of a simple tomato drizzled with olive oil. Do not overeat! it is less damaging to eat a little less than too much. (not talking about starving yourselves)
If you feel lost, go and see a nutritionist, check that they have done proper study and understand basic needs, unfortunately our field is still not registered properly and some uneducated people with good commercial skills can lure you into thinking they are knowledgeable.
Proper nutritionists should help you to go back on track with as less supplements as possible, enjoying life, educating you and simplifying your daily habits, because really, you should not think about what you have to eat (except when ill), but about what you want to cook for yourself and your loved ones.
Today I just want to slice a tomato with dark olives, goat cheese, sardines, cucumber, fresh herbs and capsicum. a nice piece of bread. Bon appétit!
Look after yourselves, eat well and be happy.