There are so many diets out there, what should I eat?

Are you one of those people who has over the years tried almost every diet going?  I totally am. I have tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Fit for Life, High carb, low carb, high protein, juicing, the MB 12 Week Challenge and of course the I am only going to eat 1000 calories per day every day for the rest of my life diet.

I will say this, If you stick to any of these (and mind your portions) they will lead to weight loss. But does that mean they work? And which one is the best? 

Judging by the amount of diets I have embarked on the truth is for long term freedom from dieting, none of them work. Despite most calling themselves a lifestyle not a diet. For me there are many reasons;

  1. Restriction. Whenever I have decided to 'go on a big diet' I have been in a pretty unhealthy place. My weight has crept up and I have got my determination on board to undo the damage. And I do. Typically 3 months after said diet I emerge a good stone/7kg lighter feeling amazing. Then I gradually increase my calorie intake and try and hold on to my "fighting" weight. This phase lasts about 3 more months.  At which point, in every single case I find myself unravelling. Before I know it I'm completely undone and my weight begins to head North. What follows is anything up to a year of working my way back up to my starting point only to recommence the cycle.  Fail.
  2. Everyone is different. No two bodies in the entire world are the same. Therefore, there is no perfect 'diet' for everybody. In the last 6 months I have converted to a mostly plant based way of eating (some fish + eggs, no dairy). I feel great eating this way, I have no problems with energy. But that may not work for you at all. I know plenty of people who report severe drops in energy without animal protein.
  3. Diets don't address the root cause. Do you think you put on weight simply because you ate too much?  While that might be true of a little holiday bulge, it is never the case for the yoyo dieter like me.  If you don't address the why you are over eating part of the equation you will continue down this merry path.

These days I am more focussed on eating for health and nutrition than keeping my eye on a number on the scale. In fact I am pretty happy to report, that I have not stepped on the scales in six months (even at the Doctors I ask them not to tell me if there's nothing to worry about). Sure I've had times when I feel like I've over indulged. But instead of panicking and picking one of two strategies (starve/binge) I just pull back a bit. And in doing so I am feeling better about my body. I'm also confident I'm doing the right things by my health.

I have been asked by a few people lately exactly what I eat. I'm happy to share that here but I don't think it's the answer to the real question. The real question is 'how should I eat?  That's a complicated question.  I will give both a try.

  1. What I eat. Organic as much as I possibly can. Nothing with preservatives. No dairy. No red meat or chicken. Limited gluten. Limited sugar. Basically about 90% of all the food I eat is plant based. That means it grows in or from the ground - and without any help from a chemical spray. The other 10% is reserved for eating out (eggs and fish are on the menu) and some treats - things like organic chocolate, dessert splurges on occasion. A typical day for me is;  Huge green smoothie (green leafy vegetables, frozen banana, coconut water), a small snack at work (eg almonds), eg Lunch of sweet potatos and lentil salad, piece of fruit in the afternoon, Eg dinner of quinoa, mushrooms, roasted vegetables, salad ingredients, avocado, avocado,avocado etc. Maybe some berries after dinner too. 
  2. What should you eat. Firstly, this is really all about how YOU feel good/nourished. But some pretty good rules of thumb are; try to eat a heavy plant based diet (that means vegetables at every single meal!), stick to organic animal proteins (expensive but worth it), eat wholegrains, cut down on dairy, cut down on processed sugar, cook more at home. Focus on foods that not only taste good but are packed with nutrients (and micro nutrients). Make sure you eat a wide variety foods, don't be repetitive.  Last but not least, stop eating when you are full (I know it's harder than it sounds, old post on that here).

You might notice I didn't once mention low fat. That's because I honestly believe eating a largely plant based diet will satisfy you enough that your fat intake is unlikely to be high. At least if you stick to the stop eating when you are full part....

There's no exact science to this at all.  It's about your bio individuality and your relationship to food. If like me, you're a yoyo dieter from way back, here's two things to think about: Eat for maximum nutrition.  Step away from the scales.  They have worked for me.

*Please consult your Doctor if you have been instructed to lose weight for medical reasons, I am not a qualified dietitician