Whether it's a book, magazine or shakes, powders and pills we are just encouraging bad corporate behaviour with our silly quick fix purchases. It may seem I'm saying this from the comfort of my skinny waistline, but I didn't get here from 55 pounds heavier by dieting and I certainly didn't sustain it for the past 2 years through a subscription powder/shake plan.
I want you to hear this clearly and recognize you know it to be true. Every time I dieted in the past, even if I lost weight I quickly gained it all and sometimes more back. Following a meal plan, or drinking a set powder drink at set intervals on an ongoing basis is completely unsustainable. I'm human. I want to eat and eat well. I want to live my life free to taste great food, enjoy eating without counting fat percentage or carbs, and spending money on "solutions."
I was talking with a friend recently about this and we came to this absolute conclusion of the solution to our ever expanding waistlines. It's not about low fat, high fat, low carb, gluten free, protein rich rigid meal plans. It's not about corporate slogans on "healthy" meal replacements sold to you in some pyramid scheme made from organic cow milk in New Zealand. The solution isn't in a pill formulated from a rare berry in Africa that only celebrities know about and sold exclusively to you on the Home Shopping Channel. It's about changing they way we live. Changing our mind about food and making the admission that we have a relationship with food. One that is healthy or abusive.
This isn't some vegan agenda that I'm peddling here. In fact I'm selling nothing at all. What I am saying is that we are sick and frankly kind of stupid. My relationship with food often revolved around binging on frozen cakes, chips, dip and beer in some unhealthy attempt to feel happy while marathon watching movies. I'd soothe my my busy lifestyle with quick easy packaged foods meant to be warmed up in 5 minutes or less in the microwave. The package promised 10 essential nutrients and vitamins. I felt good about giving my kid fruit chews that had added vitamin C and drive thru fast food was part of my regular landscape. Once my jeans felt too tight I'd start swearing off the junk and browsing the latest diet idea. It was a seesaw that many people are on today.
What happened to finally change my waistline was changing my mind about life. Completely developing a lifestyle habit that was more in line with how we are meant to live. Adopting a plant based diet did something for me beyond measuring food, counting calories and reading diet plans. It created a situation where I was eating whole unprocessed foods 95% of the time. It eliminated virtually every packaged food from my cupboard and most importantly it made me conscious. Awake.
What ultimately happened is that my definition of food completely changed. I don't consider animal products and chemical laden boxed food to be food at all. I'm left with vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and a few select other items in my pantry. This sounds like deprivation to you right now, I know it does. You might even say "well that is a diet" but it's really not. I eat. I eat a lot. In fact I eat more now than I did while gaining weight. I eat treats when I want them largely without guilt including pie, coconut ice cream and cookies. I just don't want them as often. I crave weird things like salad. I also eat when I'm hungry, no matter the time.
What's happened ultimately is that I have kicked out my old food wife and married a new one. And she's much better for me. I just don't look at life with he same lens. In some ways I think about food more now than I ever did in the past, but my enjoyment of food is much higher as well. I've never loved cooking so much. I've never loved the taste of fresh whole food as much either. There has been a switch that has gone off in my brain where I simply realize that the choices I made before were really just completely unnatural. I'd eat artificial food, gain weight, diet, then do it again.
But a weird thing happens when you start eating whole foods. Your taste buds change. You start feeling better, more energetic and even happier. That hangover feeling after a Big Mac just never happens. It's hard to do on asparagus. It might seem odd but you also start looking at those old foods in a way that makes them as appealing as cardboard or a glue stick. You lose your appetite for chicken nuggets and cheese curds on french fries.
I'm not perfect. I enjoy experimenting with food ideas as you likely know from this blog, but I don't feel the need to follow a plan in an ongoing way. I occasionally eat sugar (especially baked goods) and even feel bloated on a particularly overzealous hummus binge. But my body seems to just kind of roll with it all. My weight is pretty steady and my biggest problem is when I'm particularly active I need to eat more than I'd like as I'm regularly full.
For me, following a plant based diet has been the ultimate solution to happy worry free living. It's really hard to overdo it on kale. But I'm of the belief that the real "secret" if there is one is to live your life eating the whole foods that suit your lifestyle. Avoid the "foods" that come with 16 ingredients I can't pronounce and have to Google to understand what they are. Recognize the truth. That isn't food. Say it again. That isn't food. I'm pulling a Jedi mind trick on you right now. "These droids are not the ones you are looking for........ this bag of whey protein and deep fried croutons is not the food you are looking for."
Just ditch the diet books. Recognize what is happening. You are being marketed packaged food and then marketed the diet plan to fix the problem the packaged food created. Read about nutrition if you're really keen but ultimately keep it simple. You really do know best. Cook your food or prepare it yourself. Make sure it's really food and by food I mean actual whole food. Then sit back in amazement as people ask you repeatedly what diet you're on.