In the first year that I started my health journey, I admit I did not change my eating at all. I was fine with that because my body continued to improve with just exercising. Then in the 2nd year I noticed that the results were slowing and I knew I wouldn’t get any further unless I changed the way I ate. So now I’ve tried a million diets (no weird fad diets though) and I feel more frustrated and overwhelmed than when I started.
When I was fat, I thought that my diet wasn’t too bad. I ate meat maybe once or twice a week, made a lot of vegetarian meals that included carbs, beans, soy, quinoa. Those are things that traditional diets tell you are good. I am also really interested in eating local seasonally grown foods so I tried to stick with foods I can get at my farmer’s markets.
Over the past 2 years I have tried:
- Calorie restriction – Sometime in 2011, for 2 months. 1200 calories a day, period. No attention to fat grams. No exercising at all. This is how I lost my initial 10 lbs and became no-longer-obese. Those 10 lbs stayed off, however if I went more than 3 hrs without eating I would literally see stars and get dizzy.
- Weight Watchers Online – Jan to March 2012. It worked. I felt lighter. However, between having a points budget for the day plus converting calories to points, I felt like I was thinking about my food & points all day long. I was hungry all the time. Lost a couple points but gained it back afterwards. I secretly liked that I could eat all of the fruit I wanted, because I could go to the grocery store and buy fruit so I wasn’t limited to the farmer’s market.
- Paleo – Nov to Dec 2012. It felt easy. I wasn’t hungry or tired. I ate so many more vegetables than before. I didn’t gain any weight but didn’t lose any weight. I was pretty happy that I could eat a lot and not gain any weight even when I wasn’t exercising.
I’m so confused about how I should be eating. Should I be eating for weight loss or well-being or for the environment? Do all of those things have to be mutually exclusive?
I care about eating in a way that is seasonal and local and sustainable, which means not too much meat and as many local seasonal products as possible. But I feel like that philosphy is contradictory to the other eating-lifestyle options I have (I am trying not to call them diets). I think that the traditional low-calorie/low-fat/high carb (such as weight watchers) is not my best option because I feel like my body does better without wheat & starchy carbs. However, paleo involves a lot of meat plus they love their coconut byproducts which is so not local. Eating that much meat, even if you buy it all locally/organically, is just not sustainable for the Earth.
I reflected back and I realize I was doing paleo all wrong. I didn’t do a lot of research beforehand. I was looking at paleo food blogs and just assumed that if it was on the blog, I could eat it. I ate a lot of nuts, bacon, all kinds of meat, and all kinds of paleo-fied baked goods that were full of fat. Now that I’ve read more from Mark Sisson, I learned that things like a “paleo brownie” should be considered a “sometimes food” (in the words of cookie monster), the same way a brownie would in real life. Things like fruits and nuts should also be eaten in moderation because of the sugar & fat content, just like in traditional eating. I’m trying to put the pieces together but there are so many pieces! I’ll continue to experiment eating paleo but with leaner meats and watching my fats. And for now, no more bacon until I figure this out.