I went to the library yesterday to stuff my face with knowledge. I walked out hungry and nearly blew away in the breeze when a gust of wind tried to take me out before I reached my car. What I was looking for was a magical health solution that would wipe my conscious and all my problems away, but what I found was three shelves full of confusing dietary advice, various “diets”, weight loss tips, why we’re so obese, why you were made to eat like a French Woman, why you should eat like a Greek, eat Pasta run Fasta, the Juice Faster’s weigh to anorexia, and a plethora of other tasty tidbits I feasted my eyes upon. Truthfully, I wanted to write something that compared and contrasted some of America’s most popular veins of thought when it comes to food for thought. So I thought, that if I could just get a couple of books on the most popular diets, I would be a golden egg.
I was rather mistaken. I would have had to have my wheelbarrow with me in order to cart out all the books that were on this topic, and even just to brush the pastry surface, my little red wagon would’ve been necessary. So, I did what any self-respecting research would have done in my shoes, I decided to make up my own facts.
So, now I am going to share with you a way to burn 60 calories an hour by reading what I’ve written on a vast number of diets, and then guide you to deciding which is best for YOU based on your lifestyle, current physique, and individual needs. This service is entirely free and all you have to do to return the gesture is not ever punch me in the face, or at least give me a hug afterwards if you ever do.
This diet is going to be the first I introduce because it’s as hard core as an avocado pit. Only, there are no avocados on this diet at all. Absolutely ZERO sugar is allowed in the diet, including sugars from starchy vegetables. The purpose is for rebalancing the ecological system of the body and eliminating and choking out parasites and candida, which are organisms feeding on sugars. There is a lot of protein, namely animal protein as beans, nuts, many grains, and tofu, etc are omitted as well. Oh, but don’t worry you can have stevia to your heart’s content and even kefir! This diet is not for the faint at heart, but if followed to a tee it’s sure to rid your body of harmful parasites. This diet scares you into pretty much eating anything at all. I did it for a month and had the clearest skin and highest protein diet of all the dames in all of Charlotte, NC but I was petrified of so many foods for a long while after and pretty much ordered all my food fermented for the next year and a half. My diet was also extremely expensive and mostly consisted of kale, eggs, garlic, apple cider vinegar, hemp seed butter or sunflower seed butter, kefir, and herbal teas with stevia in them. It was hard to knock the paranoia out of myself for quite some time after, regarding absolutely every little thing, and I wonder if I did myself a favor by cleansing so much or if it was breaking me down more than building me up. But alas, it’s in the past and I’ll tell you what the PRESENT holds for me for the dessert portion of this blog.
This dude, Dr. Peter D’Adamo, has done a ton of research into various blood types and come up with some similarities he is able to pin prick, I mean pinpoint, and draw blood, I mean conclusions from. Based on your type of blood variation, various foods tend to cause different and predictable results. Foods forming the blood into what are called “lectins”, I’ll call them our body’s “concierges” because they are largely responsible for making cells communicate with one another and delivering the proper nutrients to the right place, ensuring that cells can be unlocked and utilize the energy that you have just ingested. Depending on the bloods response to these lectins, there can be good or bad repercussions, the bad ones being symptoms like: poor digestion, bad skin, sluggishness, overweight, headaches, aches and pains, every bad thing you can think of, diabetes, cancer, etc, etc. I have tried this diet as well. I can honestly say, it is for ME personally very true in many ways. Although, I would be probably THE MOST sensitive A blood type that ever existed. I am not sure if it’s just coincidence though, that the things he recommends for A blood types I just so happen to really love and have pretty much avoided many of the things on the “No” list. He also recommends body movements, exercise patterns, etc for each type. This, if nothing else is a good diet to educate yourself on and try out some things. But again, I don’t think it’s very practical to live your life this way because for example, I would have to pick out every delicious chickpea from my curry when making dinner for myself and my O blood type friends. I would have to memorize a long list of do’s and don’ts OR carry around this book everywhere with me. Call me a lazy dieter, I do however thing that D’Adamo is onto something about categorizing/classifying people and I will get back to THAT later.
When I first heard/read about this diet, I thought it was basically lots of MEAT. And I turned my snobby little vegetarian nose up at it in an instant. Cavemen, our ancestors? Give me a break. Next thing you’re going to want me to do is run around the lake with no shoes on. I see people doing that too. However, reading more into this, I have come to realize it’s very much about WHOLE FOODS. Organic foods, ripping things out of the ground and devouring them like the hunter-gatherers we were made to be. I’m down with this and everything, though I never could really try it to the fullest extent because meat and I do not meet eye to eye. Finding food that was as pure as our Paleothic aunts and uncles is not as easy as it used to be before “wild” meant “farmed” and “organic” meant “We really actually did spray this a teeny, tiny bit with Round UP…” This diet acts as though grains are the anti-Christ and therefore you will be not privy to rapture if you ingest any of the following: Wheat, Oats, Millet, Rice, Spelt, Buckwheat. I don’t know, my head is spinning…this is why I wanted to write this blog because there is just SO much out there, so many do’s and don’ts. How can we possibly know what we are supposed to eat? It also recommends you avoid fruits, potatoes, peanuts, legumes, and dairy. There are some variations of this diet, explored in the Weston Price diet which allows you to have unpasteurized milk and kefir, clarified butter, etc.
4. Vegan Diet/ Vegetarian Diet
I’ve been on both sides of this coin. I was vegan for a good two years, and I’ve been vegetarian (for the most part) for about 8 years now. I am one of those people who this was easy for and fate has led to where I am today. I regurgitated all chicken that I ate as a kid, which I then discarded under the table because I couldn’t swallow it, I had to douse steak and other meat products in sauces and dressing to mask the taste and I had a history of constipation. It took getting some wretch-worthy illness in my college cafeteria a total of ONE time to turn me vegetarian and from that moment on, it was a like asking me to walk a tightrope across the Grand Canyon with no harness to get me to eat a hunk of flesh. I remember a service project that I worked at in college where it would’ve been “rude” to deny the food that was for lunch, it was hotdogs and sloppy joes. I remember eating that hot dog and being so angry at myself for eating it, as well as the leader of the team who told us all it was rude not to accept the food. I still wish I hadn’t eaten that ballpark frank, but I took one for the team. People often ask what vegans and vegetarians do for their protein. I say this, first of all there is protein in EVERYTHING and I get it from well, EVERYTHING. My body makes protein with various amino acids that come from the foods I eat. It builds complete amino acids from the parts and pieces, and no I don’t know or keep track to make sure I am getting every last nutrient and fragment that I need….is anyone? But I feel really strong and healthy most days, stronger and healthier than I EVER have and if I feel something is out of whack, I just gobble down a tablespoon of almond butter or some tempeh. I’m also not one of those vegetarians who relies on “fake meats” and the like, I can’t stand the taste of processed food and I’d rather eat the real thing. Now, I consider myself a “freegan”. If left to my own devices, I’m vegan, but I can feel OK having some fish or a bite of something that is not strictly vegan (like CAKE!) once in awhile. My boyfriend on the other hand turns into Edward from the Twilight series if hasn’t tasted flesh and blood for more than a week. So, we be sure to keep all the essentials in stock for him. I don’t think vegan/vegetarian is for everyone, I simply feel that for myself it has been the most healing and I’m quite comfortable with how my body functions and feels.
5. Macrobiotic Diet
My former co-worker, Jeanine Atkinson, is the one who taught me the ways of this diet. I don’t want to get the facts of this one wrong, because I like where they are headed with it’s principles. Basically, this is a very conscious group of consumers that understands that mindfulness is a path to healing one’s body. Slow chewing, allowing time for digestion, paying attention to flavors, seasons, textures, food qualities and characteristics, and allowing your body to be your guide in all of this. I’m yo-diggity-down with this. We are a product of our environment, and are being influenced, as well as influencers of it as it changes constantly. The Macrobiotic Diet (meaning “long life”) takes into account the body and lifestyle as a whole. There are some things on the “avoid” list that are a sucker punch for some: meats, sugars, refined and polished grains, frozen and irradiated foods, most animal products and meat only semi-regularly, also tropical fruits and vegetables. They heavily stress eating based on where you are located in the world, so this diet is fairly versatile and applicable to anyone. Although, the reliance on miso, pickled vegetables, rice and grains, and highly specific twigs, sprigs and veggies (like daikon radish) can be a little tripping up for some. I have taken many of the principles of macrobiotics and practiced it with my own diet, rather than adopting their entire she-bang. One thing I especially love of theirs is how they challenge the eater to analyze the “energy” of the food and relate it to how it will affect their own energy. It’s an entire new perspective on eating and life, and is a very building system.
6. Doritoes Diet
7. Sonoma Diet, Mediterranean Diet, French Women Don’t Get Fat Diet
These three allow breads, oils, wine, and fruits and vegetables galore. They don’t focus on the combinations of things as much as they do about focusing on FRESH and having self-control. Their “power foods” are looked down upon by other diets and people often are able to stick with these principles because 1) the food is delicious and 2) they are not really missing out. It also emphasizes eating in-season and enjoying things with gratitude, wherever and however that might be. They usually begin with a toxin-flushing phase where you eliminate some of the awful things you’re eating / drinking now, and then intro softer, foods that pay attention to and take into account calories and portions. To me, this is the essence of the diets that I see in magazines when I’m at the gym. I am slightly envious that women everywhere get to eat like this and enjoy such decadence and still look good. But, I for one, have to be more strict with myself as there are certain grains, cheeses, etc that just are NOT for this Mediterranean chick. Plus, I sort of enjoy being an outcast.
9. Raw Foods Diet / Hallelujuah Diet
A.K.A. the arch nemesis of a Macrobiotic. I recently worked in a raw foods cafe that took things rather seriously. It was the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten, and I felt SO good when having it. I’ve gone to raw health seminars and lectures and read book after book, experimenting with it’s ways to varying degrees. The pros are that everything you’re eating is clean, easily digested, and
from the earth. You cannot go wrong or feel any guilt. The cons are if the eater decides to graze on a lot of nuts (something I found myself doing frequently) which I feel like reeked havoc on my skin, liver, adrenals, and intestines. With all raw, you’re not always going to be able to eat what is fresh and seasonal, especially if you have other things you’re avoiding as well. I for example don’t eat corn, I find I don’t do well with night shades, coconut milk/meat, too many nuts (as mentioned) and some of the “raw” sweeteners, and superfoods (cacoa, etc) were a bit too much for me. However, it’s a great cleansing diet, with many positive benefits and some people do really well with it. Is it how all of us should be dining? Perhaps that is a question best answered by YOU.
10. High – Anything – Diet (ie. Protein, Fat, Carbs, etc.)
No, this is not the diet where you eat everything while high. It’s any number of typical “diets” out there that will tell you to cut fat, cut carbs, eat high protein. Or drink a bottle of olive oil for breakfast, or eat all fruits. These diets that limit you to one macronutrient are likely going to make you lose weight. Take a look at the Atkins’ folks, they shed weight like it’s going out of style (and FYI: having an excess of it already has gone out of style) only to cause a plethora of other problems with body systems, or they pile it back on again soon after. These are short-term, unthoughtfully crafted diets probably crafted by someone who knew they could write a book and make money off of it by getting you to be their puppet. These diets are more out of style than landline telephones. But again, you make the call.
The Bottom Line
My purpose is breaking all this down for you to digest is so that you can get a full palette of what is out there and decide what is best for you. The thing to remember is that a diet is not a short term endeavor, it’s not a boyfriend you date for a few months and ditch when your birthday passes, it’s a lifelong relationship. Best to open a joint bank account and get ready to say “I do”. I’ll tell you my own “diet” principles but I want you in no way to think I am doing things right or assume that is what you should be doing. I am a firm believer that each person is vastly different and should be basing their dietary choices on their location, preferences, natural environment, lifestyle needs, social environment and of course, national origin. That being said, I cannot stress WHOLE FOODS enough. That should be the STAPLE of our diet if we don’t wish to one day have our stomachs stapled. I’m not talking about the hideously overpriced DisneyLand of grocery shopping: Whole Foods. I’m talking about real foods in their natural, unprocessed form. Perhaps the most important thing is being “tuned in” to your body and what it needs, this need is constantly changing and understand how to interpret it’s many signals is a crucial part of a sustainable diet and lifestyle. Also, there needs to be room and opportunity for enjoyment. You have to enjoy what you’re eating. It may take time for things that are more “WHOLE” to be more enjoyable than that which is of the Snickers variety. My own personal diet consists of very little grains, except for gluten-free, whole grains like (rice) and buckwheat, or millet. LOTS of vegetables and LOTS of fats! I eat peanut butter, sometimes I shotgun a beer or two, and I feel pretty darn good about it most days. If I need to cut back on indulgences, I simply deprive myself of a luxury for a given time (ie. coffee, which I am successfully gone nearly two weeks without and no longer getting migraines!!!) I’m usually pretty regimented soldier-like when it comes to my diet, but I get the hint from my body (or the people around me rolling their eyes) when I need to ease up. I feel the way I grew up has steered me largely AWAY from that diet and into more of one I would consider on par to my true heritage, or identity.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing, and any complaints, comments, etc you have with my cold, hard research.