I’m not a big fan of the word “diet.” It implies restriction rather than improvements. Diet implies “dogma” rather than paying attention to how foods make you feel and how they impact your body.
There’s all the emotional baggage that comes with the word “diet,” of course, but it can also lull many people into thinking that as long as they check the boxes and follow the rules of a particular diet, they don’t have to think about anything else — including whether they’re actually nourishing their body.
I’ve seen it with some of my friends who are vegetarians. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently bad with a vegetarian (or vegan) approach to eating. But let’s consider two two hypothetical vegetarians, and what they might eat on any given day:
|Breakfast||Honey Nut Cheerios
|2 eggs cooked in grass-fed butter
Kale sauteed in olive oil
Coffee with cream
|Morning Snack||Strawberry danish
Starbucks Iced Cafe Mocha
|Lunch||Subway Vege Delight
Sweetened iced tea
|Egg salad on spinach|
|Afternoon Snack||French fries
|Dinner||Spaghetti with tomato sauce
|Bean and cheese enchiladas
Assuming there are no hidden animal-based ingredients in the above foods, both Sally and Jane are vegetarians. But it should be clear that Jane’s approach is going to benefit her health much more than Sally’s will.
Sally’s vegetarian approach is full of processed and refined grains, and a TON of sugar. She’s likely going to feel hungry throughout the day as her blood sugar levels spike and fall over and over.
On the other hand, Jane’s vegetarian approach is full of healthy fats and proteins that will keep her blood sugar levels (and hunger levels) in check, as well as plenty of vegetables.
The point of all this is that even when you follow a particular approach to eating, you still need to learn the difference between the foods that are going to help you reach your health and fitness goals, and those that won’t.
It’s not as hard as you think, and you’ll quickly learn what’s good and what’s not. (Quick tip: sugary drinks are never good… for anyone!)
You can start learning more about your current eating habits by tracking what you eat. You might be surprised at what you’re actually consuming over the course of the day. I’ve prepared a free Three Day Tracking Worksheet (available HERE) to help you get started.