Is it just me or does discussing your diet feel more and more like discussing political and religious views?
I get it. You’ve read a million people’s opinions on nutrition, diet, and food culture. So let me guess…
You’ve read that you NEED to go vegan, that you need to be gluten free, dairy free, paleo, keto- have you tried whole 30? You track your calories right? Or you at least keep track of your macros? You know what to look for when you’re at a restaurant- and you’re only buying organic, correct? But only for certain fruits and vegetables, others are okay non-organic- sometimes. You’re taking supplements right? But not too many! That’s going to alter your system! You’ve read every ingredient on any packaged food you’ve bought- oh you haven’t- you should! Actually skip the ingredient list- only buy whole foods. Don’t even think about going into the center aisle’s of a grocery store! Oh wait, no, just eat what you want- be balanced. Everything in moderation (but what does that mean?) To lose weight- be in a calorie deficit- but don’t be unhealthy! Do you have an eating disorder? Or actually maybe you could lose 5 more pounds- make it 10- you don’t have visible abs yet, and that has been your goal for 6 summers in a row. You’re allowed a cheat meal once a week! But actually, truly, just eat intuitively- your body knows what you need. Haven’t you read what the latest olympic athletes are eating? What about those Victoria Secret models? So and so is eating too much, but SO and so is eating too little. Aren’t you trying to save the planet- how dare you look at that meat! You intermittent fast- right?!
I could go on.
But you get my (long) gist- right?
If not, consider yourself naively unaware of how the diet and food culture tries to persuade us that they know best. Don’t get me wrong- there is a 1000% need for nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, holistic guru’s, etc. But I think there is an even greater need for you to be your own best advocate in finding out what works for your body.
I am not here to tell you what to eat, because much like religion and politics, that should be your choice.
We live in a world where it seems that we are constantly flooded with what to eat and what not to eat- often with contradictory information. I understand how confusing and frustrating that can be.
Let me preface what I am going to say with telling you that I am by no means a nutritionist, dietitian, doctor, or therapist (although I have seen them all!). I am also not here to lecture you on what good nutrition versus bad nutrition is.
Instead, my aim in writing this blog post is to start a conversation about the toxicity that diet and food culture can bring into our lives. But finding freedom in eating what makes YOU feel good and not what is being promoted by the most recent fad is LBERATING.
I believe most of what we hear in regards to our diet is all set with good intentions. I don’t believe anyone is spreading completely false information thinking, “Wow I really hope people buy this- I WANT people to be unhealthy and suffer”- but there might be some industry size influence on our food culture. It is a business after all.
Maybe you are constantly reading and listening to the latest podcasts by your favorite doctors and you feel confident that your current diet is THE way to go. You want to share with others how great you feel and you want others to feel and look their best too. Of course you are going to want to share what you’re doing- you swear by it!
But maybe, just maybe, you should try to understand that your body is YOUR body- what works for you might not (and in some cases most definitely won’t) work for someone else. You have the best intentions to help! But our physical bodies- much like our complex minds- are programmed independently and differently than others. Yes- the basics can ring true. Eat lots of whole foods and less processed.
I am not here to give diet advice- but instead encourage you to do some deep self study in figuring out what works for YOU. Yes, sift through words from nutritionists and doctors, maybe even friends and family- but know that ultimately what you ingest is completely up to you.
It seems that our societies’ current health crazed community is obsessing over talking about which diet is the “optimal” diet. There is SO much science that goes into how our body functions when processing different food groups and diets. In many ways, diet has become the new religion. “I believe in X, so you should to- it’s the right thing!” But hopefully, in a more honest 21st century belief, you know that your belief is just as valid as someone elses- and guess what- they don’t have to be the same!
Some people swear by plant based, some people live a very carnivorous life. There are even still some hunter/gatherer communities that scatter the globe- feeding off of milk, twigs, and blood (don’t believe me, look it up). So much of what we eat, how we function, and how we optimize our health is part of our own life’s evolution and learning journey.
So here are a few scenarios you might have found yourself in at some point, or that you feel you are currently in:
- I want to feel and look my best- what’s the best diet for that?
- I want to lose weight- what’s the best diet for that?
- I want to gain weight- what’s the best diet for that?
- I want to heal my IBS- what’s the best diet for that?
- I want clearer skin- what’s the best diet for that?
- I want to sleep better- what’s the best diet for that?
- I want to recover faster post workout- what’s the best diet for that?
- I want to have more energy throughout the day- what’s the best diet for that?
I am not going to sugar coat my opinion.
There. Are. No. Right. Answers. To. The. Questions. Stated. Above.
But… there are MANY answers to the questions above.
I am sorry- I wish it were a one size fits all. We could all be running around with the clearest skin of our lives, sleeping like babies, and feeling fit with zero bloat! Scientists, nutritionists, and doctors alike have done incredible field work into figuring out how to help people solve their “issues” and eat well to feel better. But in addition to becoming knowledgeable about the science behind the food you eat- it can be more simple than that.
Figure out what foods taste good to you. Figure out what makes you feel good. Figure out what makes you feel bad. Allow yourself grace with not eating “perfectly” – whatever that means to you. Figure out how much of an impact the food you are consuming has on our environment (I am not just talking about meat consumption!)
I almost feel like I am being mean in saying “figure it out” when the title of this post is, “What Do I Eat?” but that’s the point. I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t be eating. No one can.
In addition, of course getting professional guidance is valid and definitely something I encourage if you are seeking specific dietary answers.
But ultimately I hope you realize that it starts and ends with you.
Just like *most* things in life.
Care to chat more- let’s start a food culture conversation! I have so much more to say- and I feel as I have just scratched the surface of my opinions. So please, don’t hesitate to reach out.