Paleo, IIFM, Gluten-Free, Keto, oh my! There are so many different diets and lifestyles on the market these days, and let’s be honest – it’s confusing! Over the years, I’ve read about and experimented with several: Weight Watchers, low-carb (Atkins), and carb cycling, to name a few. And while I loved learning more about nutrition and connecting with others via healthy eating, I’ve started moving away from one specific “diet.”
My First Diet – Weight Watchers
It all started with Weight Watchers meetings with my mom as a teenager. I wanted to shed a few pounds and support her, so I learned about “Points” and gave it a shot. I credit Weight Watchers for creating an approachable program that is flexible and educational. I didn’t eat pre-portioned frozen meals (although they do make those) – I ate real food. I received guidance, in-person support, and connected with others. Their program today is completely different thanks to social media and technology.
Although I did learn a lot about portion sizes during my Weight Watchers stint, I think I fell most in love with Weight Watchers desserts in the freezer section 🙂 Those ice cream cookie dough cups were everything.
Diet or obsession?
During prep for my two bikini competitions, I was constantly reading about carb cycling, macros, tips from other competitors. While my body whittled away, all I could think about was eating a normal meal with my friends. That and the Kodiak Cake pancakes I got on high-carb day. 🙂 And while I do not regret the decision to compete (and I learned a ton), I see how my strict diet and lifestyle becomes an obsession. It was my life for three months, and those around me felt it too.
Since competing I’ve done research on a variety of diets, and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is nutrition is not one size fits all. People metabolize foods differently, taste foods differently, and have different nutritional needs. For instance, a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean low calorie or healthy. Whole grains are part of a balanced diet, but they get a bad rap. Gluten is usually not harmful to your health and only a fraction of the American population needs to be gluten-free due to celiac disease.
A local fitness instructor and I were recently chatting about her experience with the Keto diet, which she loves. During our conversation I saw her scrape the cheese and sausage off a slice of pizza and leave the crust. What?! But…what about the dough?!
Unlike many of the fad diets that come and go, the keto diet has actually been practiced since the 1920s. Rather than counting calories or points or limiting portion sizes, it works because it changes the “fuel source” the body uses to stay energized. When you’re following the keto diet, your body burns fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. Although there are tons of benefits of sticking to a keto diet, and my friend raves about her energy, I think I’ll stick to my pizza dough 🙂
So, what diet am I on? These days I’m a big advocate for clean eating, and living a balanced lifestyle. While I do not eat pizza everyday, I also do not deprive myself of treats and splurges here and there. It’s all about balance. My 80/20 lifestyle includes healthy options from each of the food groups: grains, veggies, fruits, healthy protein and fats, and a heavy dose of avocado and dark chocolate. It means cutting back on large amounts of sugar and salt, and avoiding foods with ingredients I cannot pronounce.
I’m focused on foods that nourish my body – foods that make me feel good. I joined the January Whole 30 to learn a new way of eating and thought, and to reset my body for a new year. I also love the Healthy Baby, Healthy Momma program with Stephanie from Rock your Hormones. While I’m not pregnant, it’s no secret I’d like to be a momma one day 🙂 I have so much to learn about fertility nutrition and preparing my body for nourishing a new life.
Great books to get you started:
What about you? What diets have you tried over the years? I’d love to learn more about your nutrition journey in the comment section below 🙂