You know what irks the shit out of me? When people listen to the diet-addled nonsense speak that flies around the web (and the real world, too) and take it as the word of God. I am ALL FOR sharing and writing about the eating style that works best for you (hello, vegan food blog), but claiming that one style of eating works for everyone under the sun is pretty ludicrous, and is causing a lot of problems with people around the globe that I’m just not cool with.
First things first – we need to be listening to our bods and allowing our own individual hunger cues to have a voice. Some diets say you can’t eat when you first wake up, others say you MUST eat the moment you’re out of bed to get your metabolism moving, others tell us to have fruit for breakfast but only ONE piece while others say to focus on fiber or protein and god forbid you eat something sweet for breakfast or else you WILL crave sugar all day. Does this sound cray cray to you?
Ok, good. Because it is. As someone who obsessively researches food trends and is always game to try something new – whether that be a nutrient-rich juice cleanse or an interesting (to put it lightly) 80/10/10 experience orrr a raw til 4 kinda dealio – I have certainly been caught in the backwind of “this is the BEST WAY to eat and all other diets are inadequate and barbaric and you have no idea what you’re doing” kind of mentality.
Believing those things to the tenth degree can actually be quite detrimental to our psyche, and most importantly to our relationship with food. I read the lovely Kelsey Miller’s latest installment of The Anti-Diet Project yesterday, and I actually laughed out loud because it got me thinking about all of the shit that I have believed to be “the best way to eat,” and guess what? It’s all bull shit. You ready to hear a list of things I have told myself (and witnessed others tell themselves) over the last few years that I sincerely believed were going to be the cure to my stomach problems and my tumultuous relationship with food?
Myth: Eating past 7 p.m. is entirely banned no matta what.
Truth: Umm, WTF? 7 p.m. means something entirely different to someone who wakes up at 4:30 in the morning to hit the gym, work on their feet all day, walk a mile and a half home and go to bed by 9pm than it does to someone who sleeps in, sits in front of the computer all day and takes a nighttime yoga class. What if you are not hungry come 7pm, but you force a meal down your throat at 6:52 because you’re living in fear that eating past that hour will make you fat for life? Yeah, no. I’m not saying to gorge your face on a plate of nachos right before you lay down to sleep (although that would probs be fun), but I am saying to be mindful and pay attention to your body’s cues versus focusing on the number on the clock.
Myth: Fruit is so full of sugar, OMG, I can only have like one piece a day or else I will swell into the size of a blowfish.
Truth: It’s true that sugar ain’t good for us, but “sugar” refers to the refined sugar that is table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup… which are both made up of a 50/50 combo of glucose and fructose. People assume that because fruit is full of fructose, the sugar will have the same negative affects. Right? Wrong-o. Fruits are loaded with fiber and sugar, and because they take a while to digest, the fructose hits the liver slowly. Because of the fiber, a serving of fruit will make you feel full for a good amount of time, which makes it a very nutritious and smart snack choice. And don’t even get me started on the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you’re nourishing your bod with by consuming fruit – it’s a great choice, people. Don’t fear it!
Myth: Because fruit is good for me (The Blonde Vegan just told me so!) I can sit around all day eating it and I will be thin as a rail and will feel like I’m floating on glittery rainbows.
Truth: Just because something is good for you doesn’t mean that moderation should be thrown out the frickin’ window. I tried the 80/10/10 diet for a while (not knocking it for the people that it works for… more power to you if your bod likes eating this way!) where it is totally normal to eat 10 bananas for breakfast, 10 mangoes for lunch and have a big ass salad of raw veggies for dinner. Ummm, after one 10-banana smoothie my stomach was screaming in pain and I thought I was going to keel over in my yoga class from a sugar-induced heart attack. My tummy was inflamed for DAYS, and it actually took me weeks to recover from the “I need to eat all the fruit in the world in order to have enough energy” mentality. Same goes with veggies, whole grains, legumes, etc. Just because it is GOOD for us doesn’t mean that a balanced diet is no longer necessary. Find the amount that works for you – going overboard with anything is never smart.
Myth: This 100-calorie pack is low calorie, and I’m trying to lose weight so this seems like the smartest snack choice.
Truth: WRONG. “Low-calorie” processed foods are in fact reduced in calories, and in order to still make the food taste good they get amped up in fat and sugar content, and are usually completely stripped of their nutrient contents. When something has no nutrients, its not going to keep you full. You’re going to be hungrier sooner, and you’re going to eat more. Not to mention the nasty artificial crap-o processed food is loaded with. Low-calorie is a total joke – unless of course it’s whole, plant-based from the earth low-cal… then have at it!
Myth: Carbs are the devil and I am legit terrified of them because I am trying to lose 5 pounds.
Truth: We need carbs to survive, and there are healthy carbohydrates packed into so many different wonderful foods from the earth. Like fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes to name a few. The brain alone uses 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. Think about that. And when paired with a balance diet – carbs will NOT make you fat.
Myth: Eating six little snackies per day verus eating three balanced meals is the best way under the sun to keep my metabolism up and stay slim.
Truth: While eating this way may work for some people (as I’ve mentioned, I have certain days where I prefer eating smaller meals more frequently to fuel me through my day), there are many people it does not work for. Many people actually function best on a three meal per day diet with little to no snacking (unless they get hungry of course, then snack away)! A lot of snacking is done mindlessly and either out of boredom or because we are accustomed to eating every few hours. Because it takes our food several hours to pass through our systems, if we are constantly putting food into our mouths before our previous meal has digested, the new food starts decomposing in our tummies and causing uncomfortable things like bloating, gas and stomach pain. The better snack choices are whole foods in small quantities – something that won’t totally mess up our next meal!
Myth: I saw this girl on YouTube talking about her awesome raw till 4 vegan diet / paleo diet / Whole 30 Diet / Whatever-the-heck-diet-you-wanna-try and she has a perfect bod so I am going to follow her eating habits to a tee.
Truth: What works for her may not work for you, and it is highly doubtful that the two of you have the same exercise routine, sleep regime, and body compositions. If her diet sounds like something your body would react well to, there’s nothing wrong with gaining inspiration and trying it out. But if eating five bowls of rice for dinner with no protein and no greens sounds like something that might make you feel strange, then it’s probably best to realize that you need to listen to your own body instead of comparing yourself and your eating habits.
I could go on forever, this is fun, but I just realized that this post is getting L-O-N-G and the last thing I want to do is bore you. If you liked this post and/or found it informative, tell me so in the comments below and I will (more than) happily do a second installment next week!
Anyway, the point is – LISTEN TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL BODY! It will tell you everything you need to know. I also had a super duper interesting convo with Jamie from Gingersnap’s Organic and Max from Living Maxwell the other day about the importance of listening to our bodies and understanding that our bodies change over time, and what worked yesterday will not always work today or tomorrow or, especially, next year. Also, I found this article from NY Mag to be extremely helpful. (Thanks Kyle for sending to me!)
We evolve. Embrace it.