What's in a diet?

Ever since I could remember people have been into the latest diet, otherwise known as “fad diets.” My own mother was one of these people. She did the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, Atkins diet, always battling not only her weight, but her self-esteem as well. I have watched friends do “cleanses” – ghastly things they would mix and drink for days on end. I, myself have never really had weight issues, not serious ones. After the birth of my second child, I constantly looked four months pregnant. I tried a calorie counting diet and thought I was going to starve to death. I was always hungry. How did people do this I wondered? I eventually got a job that was physically demanding and lost 15 pounds and toned up. Now, as a health coach I am inundated with friends and potential clients passing up my services to try this diet or that diet and so to know what I am up against I go online and look them up. Here are three current “diets” and my thoughts on them.


I tried a calorie counting diet...and thought I was going to starve to death!


Whole 30:


Whole 30 is a “reset” diet. The idea is to spend 30 days avoiding sugar – any sugar, natural or refined, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy or food additives such as MSG. This reset is so strict you can’t even make pancakes, muffins, etc. with approved foods as they feel this undermines the program. The idea is to eat lots of vegetables, fruit, lean meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Do this for 30 days to detoxify the garbage in your system and then add back some items if you choose or stay on their diet and use their recipes for meal planning.


Paleo diet:


The Paleo diet is very similar to the whole 30 program where you restrict yourself to eating supposedly foods that only our ancestors ate. No grains – of any kind! No legumes, some vegetables, very few fruits made the list, meat. Lots and lots of meat!


         Story here: I worked with a gentleman a few years ago who was on the Paleo diet.

         For lunch he would bring in a pound of bacon and cook it in the microwave. One

         day he brought his bacon into the staff room and popped it into the microwave,

         set the timer and left. A few minutes later his bacon was burning and the whole

         floor of our building was a smoky, bacon-y mess!


 Fast Metabolism diet:

This one is more complicated. The idea is to confuse your metabolism by changing what you eat each week for four weeks. Week one you eat a high carbohydrate, high sugar diet. Week two you eat a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, and so on. Only once again there is a very long list of approved foods you are allowed to eat in each of the three phases and of course, a list of foods to avoid.  The creator of the program Haylie Pomroy, a very educated woman, gives a lot of information about how the body processes and uses proteins and fats and such so it is easy to buy into her program. 

Some commonalities of these three programs are that they all say to avoid wheat and dairy. Otherwise, they flip-flop regarding legumes, gluten as a food group, coffee, alcohol, refine verses natural sugars, selecting or omitting certain fruits and vegetables.

Here’s my opinion. What your body needs is a whole food diet. That is, foods that are as close to the source as possible. Your bodies need grains and legumes because they are complex carbohydrates which stabilize blood sugars. Your body needs as many fruits and vegetables as you can eat. Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories. Your body burns as many, if not more calories eating and digesting them as are in them. Fruits and veggies are chock full of antioxidants which aid in reducing inflammation and fighting off harmful free-radicals that we are exposed to everyday through the pollution in our air, our drinking water, sunlight, and many other environmental toxins we are exposed to daily. Protein can come in many forms, not just meat, so if you choose to eat meat, or not eat meat that is your personal preference. However, I do suggest that if you do eat meat, choose lean cuts of meat that have not been raised with hormones, corn or soy. As for dairy and gluten, if you have an autoimmune disease or bloating, gas and other intolerance triggers, by all means avoid them. Dairy and gluten are both known to cause inflammation. As for coffee and alcohol it is up to you. Studies show health benefits for both wine and coffee, but there are limitations. Coffee should be drunk black.



So, “what should I avoid,” you ask. You should avoid food additives such as MSG, Carrageen and the like. Artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners.  Trans fats or any ingredient listed as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. 

For a complete list of my Ten Foods to Avoid click here to request it be sent via email.

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