So many “diets” or lifestyles to choose from, but which ones are best? It seems so confusing when trying to determine what works best for your body. New trends pop up all the time saying that their method is best, these people lost so much weight from this diet etc. There are even programs out there that have premade meals, frozen meals, powdered meals, or even meal supplements/ meal replacements to help people loose weight. So how do you choose?
I will start by saying that this is my personal opinion and I don’t want to offend anyone or what works for them. One of my biggest “mottos” in life is that if something works for one person it may not work for everyone else, or that everyone you know, knows things you don’t, and you know things that others don’t know too. Writing a post related to eating habits is something I have been wanting to write for a long time because I have so many mixed feelings about eating habits and I felt it would be good to explain my thoughts and also explain why Sprouting Healthy Habits has so many different tags and categories based on different food lifestyles.
The definition of “health” may mean different things to different people. When I think of health I think of being healthy inside and out, being fit (based on your personal preferences), trying to avoid toxins as best as possible, and eating good, healthy real food 95% of the time and still allowing your self to “cheat” or have a bad meal or so every once and a while. Again, that may not be the best for others but its definitely something that works for me.
Our Bodies are All SO Different!
I feel that there is no single “diet” so to say (I really don’t like the word “diet”) that works for everyone. In fact, I feel like EVERY SINGLE PERSON is different, and by different I mean; different in what foods are best for us, different in how our body reacts to certain foods, and different in what our body does with the foods we eat. So always keep in mind that something that works for your friend or family member may not work for you, or vise versa. When choosing the way you eat it is about really listening to your body. Certain foods may cause your body to react in ways you thought were normal but were not. Some may have allergies or intolerances to certain foods without even realizing it, even really mild allergies can cause so many different reactions. I very much admire many different healthy eating habits of others out there. I can’t tell you how many amazing books I’ve read on different food lifestyles and so many of them have excellent points. One thing that I keep coming across over and over again is that there isn’t one single diet that works for all. Even if one person visits 100 different nutritionists and dieticians they could leave with many different opinions from each of the Doctors they visit.
A Few Popular/Well Known Food Lifestyles
Here are a few well known food lifestyles that are pretty common today. I apologize if I didn’t include every diet out there but the list could really go on forever.
Clean Eating- Clean eating is a lifestyle allowing you to eat 5-6 meals a day consisting of meat, grains, beans, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables while avoiding processed refined foods like flour, sugar, pasta and other
Paleo- or Paleolithic is eating what our prehistoric ancestors ate (hunter gatherers) which includes meat, eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds…while avoiding all grains, dairy, beans and legumes, while also avoiding processed foods
Alkaline –is a lifestyle based on eating mostly Alkaline foods and for the most part avoiding acidic foods. Eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and trying to stay away from meats, eggs, dairy, beans, legumes, grains, nuts and other acidic foods and avoiding processed foods
Vegetarian- lifestyle full of fruits and vegetables, beans, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds avoiding meats (seafood as well),
Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid meat, but still eat dairy products and eggs
Lacto-vegetarians avoid all meat, eggs but still consume dairy products
Vegan- Eats fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and avoids ALL animal products meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin and other
Raw/Living- Similar to a Vegan Lifestyle, Raw Foodies only consume raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and avoid ALL animal products, most raw diets avoid grains and legumes. Food can be dehydrated up to 110 degrees (some say 115) because it retains the nutrients and all nuts and seeds are eaten sprouted, or soaked then dehydrated
Gluten Free- Most who eat gluten free have reasons such as health restrictions, allergies, and gluten intolerance, although some others find many benefits by not eating gluten as well, such as increased energy, not feeling bloated, and better digestion. While eating gluten free you avoid foods that contain gluten which is naturally found in many grains but is also often times added to foods low in protein. Be careful when buying gluten free because many highly processed food companies are using the “gluten free” term to lure people into thinking their product is healthy, when yes it can be gluten free but still loaded with junk
Dairy Free-This is another lifestyle with people that have allergies, or health reasons that don’t allow them to consume dairy. Dairy is generally harder for our bodies to digest so others may also find benefits of avoiding dairy. Dairy Free lifestyles eliminate dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. and use dairy free options in cooking.
Fruits and Vegetables are probably the only foods that are part of practically every “diet”, and that’s saying something. Again some people have allergies to even some fruits and vegetables and are unable to eat certain foods. Aside from that it’s not a question that fruits and vegetables are good for you. They are LIVING foods full of energy and should be at the top of the list for consumption. I have found that fruits on an empty stomach digest better (I will talk about food combinations in a minute) and vegetables can be consumed with any other food group without issues. (Starchy vegetables are a bit of a different story) There are so many different fruits and vegetables available to us which should be more of a reason to eat a wonderful variety. Most Fruits and Vegetables are alkaline foods which makes them very beneficial and easy to digest. Lets not forget all of the nutrients!
Nuts and Seeds are a part of many diets as well. Again some people may not be able to eat certain nuts or seeds, or nuts and seeds all together due to allergies. Some nuts and seeds are more acidic than others and some diets try to avoid nuts, or at least the more acidic ones. raw/living foodies soak their nuts and seeds prior to consuming and sometimes let them sprout. This makes them “raw” and dehydrating after the soaking preserves many of the nutrients. This is also said to help them digest much easier. Some nuts and seeds are also are more acidic than others so try to pay attention to how each of them make you feel. Also, on another note, “peanuts” are not really nuts they are legumes and are much harder to digest than actual nuts.
Our Paleo friends avoid legumes. Legumes need to be cooked in order to consume (or do they)? Legumes were not a part of our Paleolithic ancestors diets. The legumes are acidic and hard to digest. Yet, there are also some Raw Foodies also eat legumes without cooking them since they generally soak them and sprout them before they are consumed. Soaking them makes them somewhat easier to digest, and is helpful even if you are cooking them. Most Vegans, Vegetarians, and Clean Eating Folks eat legumes, Alkaline lifestyles avoid them.
The Paleo lifestyle also avoids grains because they too were not a part of the Paleolithic diet. Grains, like legumes are also hard to digest and many grains contain gluten. There are many today whom have gluten allergies, can’t consume gluten, and or have side effects from eating gluten. There are grains that don’t contain gluten but they too are more complicated to digest. Grains can be soaked prior to cooking as well to somewhat aid digestion if you do consume them. Most Vegans, Vegetarians, Clean Eating Foodies, eat grains and they are also avoided by Alkaline Eaters.
Milks, cheeses, yogurts, and other dairy products can be beneficial to some. Paleo, most raw, vegans, and alkaline diets don’t consume dairy. Dairy is also acidic but there are benefits to eating dairy. Dairy is also common in the food allergy world so it is avoided by many.
Meat and eggs are part of clean eating, and Paleo, lifestyles. In today’s world the industrial meat market is huge and it is truly sad how many of the animals are treated. Many of the conditions in which the animals are raised are terrible! Meat is a part of most peoples daily eating habits and I too eat meat because it does have its benefits. If you do choose to have meat in your diet it is important to find a good source, even some organic farmers that sell organic in stores are inhumane to the animals so you really need to really do your research if you choose to eat meat. Look for Grass Fed, Pasture Raised meat and eggs, wild caught for fish etc. These choices are better than most of what you find in stores, yet the ideal way to be on the animals side is to eat a vegetarian, vegan or raw food diet. We have choices for a reason and I know there are some who can’t eat vegan diets even if they wanted to because again all of our bodies act differently. I support the choices of others no matter what they are and hope that people don’t judge others based on their eating habits.
I thought I would briefly talk about food combinations because they too can effect the way you feel and the way your body reacts to foods. One of my favorite books Raw Food Life Force Energy: Enter a Totally New Stratosphere of Weight Loss, Beauty, and Healthby Nutritionist Natalia Rose really explains how certain food groups consumed together can cause our bodies to react in bad ways. Fruit as an example should really only be enjoyed on an empty stomach or with vegetables. Fruit on an empty stomach takes about 15 minutes for our bodies to process, take what it needs, and eliminates the rest. When we eat fruit with other food groups it takes longer to digest, thus the fruit somewhat ferments in our stomach and our body is required to digest everything, even the things we don’t need and also the nutrients aren’t as high. Often times this causes us to feel bloated and tired due to the sugar naturally found in the fruit. The same goes for other combinations such as meat and grains, they don’t go well together because together they take so long to digest. Most vegetables can be combined with pretty much any food group yet they should be consumed first since they are quickest to digest. About 1 hour on an empty stomach. When combining food groups it is best to eat “light to heavy” since the “heavy” foods take longer to digest. Your stomach digests the easier foods first (when you eat light to heavy). I wrote a post about her book here and highly recommend it to everyone. She eats a lot of raw food but still consumes food from all of the food groups. The book is extremely informational no matter what food lifestyle you choose to live.
How to determine what works best for you?
As I mention above , its about trial and error. It’s about listening to your body and how foods make you feel. So do some experiments, keep a food journal, and write down what you eat and how you feel after eating a meal. You may start to see patterns and may find that certain foods make you bloated, or slightly upset your stomach, make you tired and sluggish etc. You may also notice which foods make you feel energized, clear your mind, make you feel motivated, relieve stress, make you feel satisfied with your meal but not feel like you over ate or just make you feel good all together. You may even notice certain food combinations can be good or bad. You and you alone can physically feel how your body reacts, and keep in mind that most of us feeling bloated, full, drowsy, tired, lazy all the time isn’t really normal. Something in your life causes you to feel that way and a lot of the time it has to do with what you eat. So by listening to your body and determining what works best for you, you are almost inventing your own “diet”.
The Bottom Line
These are the key points I’ve seen in most diets
-Eat in Moderation
-Eat smaller portions
-Eat less if not any processed foods
-Eat a lot of Vegetables and a lot (but less than Vegetables) of Fruits
Regardless of the road you take to healthy eating, one thing to keep in mind that I see everywhere is to eat as little processed foods as possible. There are healthier options for processed foods and some of them are great but the general processed foods found in stores cause more harm than good. Real food is not processed, so anything in boxes, anything in powdered form, or “meal replacements, anything pre-prepared should be eliminated or at least majorly reduced. Real Food, and Living Food has nutrients that you can’t find in any overly processed foods no matter what claims they make. Even when you make food at home then freeze it for later use, it is still a way better choice than purchasing a packaged version. You have to think about the fact that packaged and pre-prepared food has to have some type of “preservative” even if its organic/natural. I know we all have different lifestyles so many of us can’t make absolutely everything themselves but its really about doing the best you can for you. Don’t compare yourself to others. There is no true way to even do so since (I am saying this again) we are all so different.
Also, a diet in my opinion should not be something short term. It should be a lifestyle! We all may do things to help us eliminate weight quickly etc. but it seems like most people gain weight back if they go right back to eating unhealthy. Making adjustments to our eating habits overtime can be helpful too, since our bodies are ever changing. There are even some people who eat only what is in season. Seasonal eating is also very beneficial. Obviously with some give and take 🙂 who doesn’t like eating off season fruits or veggies sometimes. Mangos and peaches may not be found much in the winter, but if I was out shopping and I found some, you can best bet I would buy a couple.
Moderation is also a big deal. We need different foods to give us different benefits. For moderation reasons for example I don’t drink fresh juices every morning, some morning I do, others I make a smoothie for the fiber, some mornings I drink warm lemon water on an empty stomach for detox reasons, and then even other mornings I make an actual breakfast. This works for me. I still try to do better everyday, and I seriously go through some stages where I totally feel like eating unhealthy but I try my best to get back into my routine.
Another thing to mention is that I also find that detoxing/doing cleanses a couple times a year can be very helpful. This is my personal opinion because they are many who state otherwise, yet there are just as many doctors, nutritionists, dieticians who do feel that cleanses are helpful. I will speak more about detoxing in a later post.
Lastly, I am not a professional, so if you have health related questions about your own body and if you need help finding what works best for you aside from listening to your own body, seek professional medical assistance. It also doesn’t hurt to get more than one opinion to help determine what works best for you. Full Disclaimer Here
Also here are some awesome food Documentaries
Keeping in mind they all have different views on eating 🙂 but they all have excellent information!
I hope this post gives you an idea for my reasoning behind my posts and I also hope it helps others with their food lifestyle. Our Food Choices and eating habits are the roots to healthy living even though many other things come into play for being healthy overall. So here’s to ongoing healthy living and healthy food choices no matter what they may be!