I have friends who always talk about the different diets they’ve tried — or are currently trying — in their attempt to drop a few pounds or, at the very least, eat healthier. Some have done well on their endeavors. Then there are others who just have no clue.
I love food, hence the reason I don’t diet. I prefer to enjoy a little bit of everything in moderation and then try to do some exercise or activity that will help maintain my weight or burn extra calories to drop a few pounds.
There is no way I would have ever survived certain diets if I had attempted them. Take, for example, the grapefruit diet. Don’t get me wrong, I love grapefruit, but not 24/7/365.
Day 1 would have been OK, but by day 2, it would be something along the lines of this.
Let’s see, another grapefruit or this bowl of pasta salad lightly dressed with olive oil and parmesan cheese? … Hmmm … Ummm … Yeah. PASTA SALAD!
Now don’t start slamming me with emails saying I’m a diet hater. I’m far from it. But the people I know who have been successful on their diets are the ones who understand that a true diet isn’t just about a specific type of food.
A real diet means being conscious of what you eat, why you eat, when you eat, how much you eat and what additional activities you are doing to offset some of the eating.
It means making better choices.
For example, the one decision I did make recently was to focus on natural foods while avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
By cooking my own meals, I can control how much salt I add. Cooking for myself also means there are no added chemical preservatives that I can’t pronounce in my ingredients. I cook enough so that I can portion and have meals ready for most of the week. This way, I still have a healthier alternative ready on busy days instead of grabbing a fast food combo meal.
There are days when eating out is the only option, but the more I plan and make ahead, the less likely I will cheat. Everyone should have cheat days, but it shouldn’t be every day.
At the grocery store, I shop the perimeter while avoiding most of the middle aisles. The perimeter is where you find the staples of a healthy meal. It’s the produce, meat and dairy sections of nearly every store. The middle aisles are mostly processed foods, like sodas, chips, popcorn and snacks. There are a few aisles in the middle worthy of a visit, but for the most part, it’s the section I try to avoid.
The most important aspect of any diet is knowing what you are eating, and by that I mean knowing where it came from or how it was made, and what’s in it. If you read the ingredients and don’t know what half of the stuff is, then your body doesn’t need it.
Getting in touch with our food choices is something we’ve lost in the last two decades. Everything is fast food, either from a drive-thru or out of a box and microwaved in minutes. But ask yourself, "Is that stuff really food?"
If you decide to stick to a diet, at the very least become educated about it. Recently, one of my clueless friends told me she was going on the Paleo diet.
Friend: "Hey, I’m on that new Paleo diet. You know, the one where you only eat stuff that the cavemen ate."
Me: "Oh, so mostly meat, fish, vegetables and fruit right?"
Friend: "Yes, that’s the one. Heading out know to get a bucket of KFC chicken — just chicken, no sides."
Me: "Ummmmmm, not quite sure that’s how it works, but you go right ahead. Good luck with that."
Unfortunately, she will likely fail because she seems to miss the point on what a diet entails. Sometimes, I just want to shake her.
Hey, fool, going to KFC does not make you a hunter-gatherer. If you truly wish to eat like the cavemen did, make yourself a spear and spend the better part of the day foraging for berries and hunting for fowl. Then prep your harvested fowl and cook it over an open fire because I’m pretty sure cavemen didn’t have an oven or a microwave, seven secret spices and crispy crust. … Just saying, keep it real. And while you’re at it, the KFC is two blocks away. Why drive when you can at least act like you are hunting by walking there?
Recently, I met a local couple who embody what it means to know their food. Michael and Bianca Croft are avid, but ethical, hunters. They hunt using archery, make sure to kill only what they need and harvest the entire kill, whether feral hog, deer, raccoon or squirrel. The couple prefers knowing the meat they gather is free from hormones, antibiotics and fed from the Earth.
Bianca Croft knows about organic farming and does what she can to grow her own vegetables. It doesn’t mean they never go the grocery store, but they know their food and control what they put into their bodies.
The cleaner you eat, the better you will feel. You truly are what you eat, so junk in equals junk out.
Read all about the Crofts in the April/May issue of Liberty Life Magazine, which comes out today.