In Defense of Playing With Your Food /Diet

While I sincerely doubt I will ever utter words as definitive as “I’m paleo” or “I’m vegan” or “I don’t drink alcohol” again, I do enjoy trying out different diets, whether it’s for a meal or a month. I say “again” because I did try the whole veganism thing about five years ago: It lasted six weeks, six brutal weeks. Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience and definitely informed my current diet in many ways, but at the end of the day, I just wasn’t ready to commit to such a restrictive lifestyle (or to say no to birthday cake for the rest of my life).

For the last couple of years I have bounced around, trying many different approaches to eating in search of what works best for me. Every time I sit down for a meal, I have two goals: to nourish my body, and to avoid upsetting my finicky digestive system (plus it obviously has to taste delicious). And while I may not yet have perfected the art of eating, I do have a feeling I’m getting hotter – and I give a lot of credit to my endless experimentation with different “diets,” or systems of eating. For example, I’ll go weeks without eating meat only to have chicken everyday for a month. I’ll go from high carb to low carb to no carb (just kidding that last one never happens).

My current obsession is paleo, which is a far cry from my usual plant-based diet. But I’m actually finding I feel really energized with the low carb, high protein approach. My digestive system has been pretty on point, too – much to my surprise. I always thought carbs really helped push things along, but I’m starting to question if that’s really the case. I’m not following it to a tee (I haven’t been able to break up with my a.m. oatmeal) but overall I’ve been eating less bread and carbs and IT. FEELS. GREAT.

Another diet I’ve been really into lately is the low FODMAP diet, which was specifically invented to help people with IBS and IBD better manage their symptoms. The low FODMAP diet is based on the concept that certain sugars (carbs) are difficult for some people to digest because of the way they draw water into the intestinal tract. The low FODMAP diet has taught me to watch my portion size when it comes to many seemingly harmless foods such as apples, avocados, and cauliflower –  allowing me to avoid that “WTF why am I bloated” feeling you sometimes get after a perfectly healthy meal.

I’m also a big fan of the Mediterranean diet: lots of oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables and fish.  I think it’s definitely one of the most nutritious – not to mention most sustainable – diets out there, and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (the group responsible for making the recommendations that turn into our national nutritional guidelines) agrees. This is one diet I never stray far from.

So how do all of these different food ideologies fit together in one human being? Well for one, after trying something new, instead of adopting all of the rules, I try to pinpoint the ones that worked best for me. For example, the low FODMAP diet suggests limiting both caffeine and alcohol. Whereas coffee is something my body definitely takes issue with and I’m fine without, IMO a glass of wine every now and then is just downright necessary. Paleo is all about the meat – I’m not really. So I’ve been dipping my toes in the water by having a a little turkey here and a little chicken there, and cutting down on bread carbs. I like to think of myself as a food syncretist.

In the end, being this way has earned me lots of eye rolls. And I get it – it’s hard to keep up with. But through all of these different phases and obsessions, I have learned so much about my body and for that reason, I’m sorry but I’m absolutely not sorry.



Do you any of ya”ll identify with the food syncretist approach?

What diets do you mostly follow?

[Note: If you’d like to learn about some of the aforementioned diets as well as others, Well + Good recently published an awesome article that serves as a great intro into!]